The story of a man choosing God’s grace over performance

Behind-the-scenes: Isaac and I met in our younger years and became close friends. We both had a need for intellectual conversation and a mutual love for long words—like audacious and proverbial. However, time took its course, and our lives quickly moved forward and away from each other…until now. Isaac is a student at Reach Training Institute and has a wisdom-filled story I cannot wait to share.

In a world where men are elevated to the sky or beaten down, one can struggle to find a narrative that balances both feet in solid ground.

As a young boy in the 1990’s, Isaac was instantly handed the expectations of growing muscles, excelling at sports, and proving himself to everyone he met. Needless to say, he developed an intimate relationship with fighting failure and shame. “I was wrecked when I got my first B in high school. Wrecked. I kept telling myself I could have done more,” he said. And more is what he went after: more relationships, more validation, more success. Yet, an empty place still existed in his world of performance.

“What am I doing wrong?” he often asked himself. Why wasn’t succeeding enough in the eyes of those around him or in his own mind?

Fast forward three years and God has led him through the love letter of His word and brought a new perspective into Isaac’s life. The relentless drive to perform has been transformed into a soft shaping of the soul, one day at a time. “I still struggle with attaching identity to my performance, but God continually strips that away. Instead, I hear God say, ‘my love for you is not determined by your performance. My love for you is determined by my Son and by me.’”

 

How do you wrestle with or overcome the need to perform—specifically, as a male in this culture?

“I don’t think I will ever be able to say, ‘yep, I worked through that. I am done.’ I think as humans, and as males, we want to prove ourselves—to God or to other people. The way I wrestle with or overcome this issue is:

  1. By being in community with other males, with others who are living a similar life
  2. Remaining saturated in the Word of God

If I remain searching the scriptures and meditating on the Word of God, then that’s  how I come before the cross again and revel in the grace of God… Also, I think that changing those times where I feel down about myself, when I feel like I need to perform better, turns those times into opportunities to worship God… to praise Him for His abundant mercy and overflowing grace.That is something that turns this vice into a kind of virtue.”

When the world bombards someone with expectations of performance and achievement, it can be too easy to put up the facade of being successful. God wants to tear down that facade, in men, but also in women. Isaac says it best in this way:

“Christ delights when we come to Him in need, to come to Him raw. ‘I cannot do this on my own.’ I think that mindset is what we should have as males—and females. We can’t do anything except if the Father is helping us and is with us. Remaining needy. It’s a funny way to phrase it, but I believe remaining needy is good. When we remain needy, we can avoid the pitfall of performance…and how it can be determining our identity.”

 

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