Daily Devotions

The Achievement Delusion

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Go and cry to the gods whom you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress. (Judges 10:14)

We’ve been taught since we were young to be high achievers. Schools have traditionally put us in competition with each other. From the subtly of grading on a curve, to spelling bees and advanced classes, achievement is what appears to be the ultimate motivator. Sadly, this form of motivation leaves us in despair, because there is always someone better than us, smarter than us, or craftier than us. Even if we end up being the most successful, smartest, and most clever, achievement will still leave us unfulfilled, at the end of the day.

I am not alone in this belief. Alison Berman, in her article, “The Dangers of Basing Self-worth on Achievement” states, “The problem with training self-worth to be a reflection of personal achievement is that it leaves that very individual feeling perpetually incomplete and constantly searching for wholeness. What this means is that we’ve accidentally bred a culture where daily grinding is supposed to fuel self-worth — unfortunately it does not.” Alison also knows that achievement is a hollow idol.

God knew that our self-worth would be in question. That is why God made a point of stating clearly that “we are made in the image of God.” We are worthy through God’s grace. Thankfully, we cannot earn it, or we would all fall short. God cares little for achievement. God cares about living a faith based on trust and humility. We need to let God do the ultimate achieving. It is our task to help, support, and glorify the One who will achieve the Heavenly Kingdom for us.

The way to a meaningful life is not found through the idol of achievement, but through following the humble path of Christ. It is not an easy path. Everyone around you is judging you by achievement. It takes a deep faith to judge yourself and others in a humble way so antithetical to achievement.

Today, ask God to bless you with the wisdom and understanding necessary to value yourself and others in a new way. Prayerfully ask God to give you the confidence to know your worth, so that you do not have to earn it, or prove it to yourself or others. It will not be easy, or fulfilled quickly, but focusing on humility over achievement will bring you confidence and joy. Stop working so hard to achieve it, when God’s acceptance is already yours.


You Can Close Your Eyes, but Not Your Ears

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Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Noise pollution has been a recognized concern since the 1800s. Markham Heid states in an article that, back in 1896, a journal article titled “The Plague of City Noises” set off the 19th century’s version of a Twitter meltdown. The article highlighted “’the injurious and exhausting effects of city noises on the auditory apparatus, and on the whole nervous system,’ and generated ‘hundreds’ of editorial comments and ‘scores’ of private letters across the United States and Europe.”

Heid continues, “Fast-forward to 2011, and a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) came to similar conclusions. The authors concluded that in western Europe alone, roughly one million healthy life years are lost each year as a result of traffic-related noise. Noise is inherently arousing, and the long-term effects of ‘chronic noise stress’ on the human hormone and nervous systems are a growing concern, the report states.”

Now, consider the negative impact headphones, blue tooth earbuds, and other devices have on our health. With televisions on most of the time, along with the ease of saying, “Alexa [Siri], play music,” and it magically begins; our nervous systems are negatively affected in ways the urbanites of 1896 could not begin to imagine.

Along with physical issues, the lack of silence has negative consequences on our spiritual life as well.  Psalm 46:10 is true, because it helps the brain heal, reduces anxiety, and provides the opportunity to hear God speak to you. Today, make it a point to walk into your house and leave the television, computer, and other audio equipment off or on mute. Allow yourself to fully experience the joy of silence. Once you get beyond the strangeness, it will feel as wonderful as floating on your back in the water. It is in those special moments that God can be heard. Enjoy!


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