Performance vs. Potential: Highlights from the WeekBlog / Produced by The High Calling
The gap between performance and potential is far from neutral. On the positive side, it inspires. Think of the young professional who sees her future self in a seasoned colleague and dreams of achieving great things for God. Optimism and drive mark this view. On the negative side, however, the gap can be as haunting as it is illusory. Haunting because it confirms how much we come up short; illusory because the gap tortures with false truths about rank and value. For those who suffer the latter, even Jesus’ promise to be sufficient in our weakness goes unheard.
In The High Calling series on Performance vs. Potential, we take an honest look at both perspectives. Whether you’re a dreamer seeking growth, or a doubter seeking peace, we believe you’ll be encouraged by what you read. Below are four highlights, three resources, and one very practical piece of advice.
Four Voices on Performance vs. Potential
1. Kimberlee Conway Ireton says what I believe but often forget to practice, which is to have “faith, not in myself and my own powers to be and to do, but rather in Christ and his power to be and to do through me.” In her Bible reflection on Philippians 4:13, she continues:
Even on my best days, I cannot love well, for a whole day, my husband and children—my favorite people in the world! And I can rarely manage gentleness, let alone love, for my crude neighbor and my passive aggressive colleague. But potential is not about me, and what I can do. It is about Jesus, and what he can do.
(Read more of her thoughts and subscribe to the Daily Reflections here.)
2. In The Coming Season, Kimberly Coyle confesses a familiar occurrence: letting an opportunity pass before our paralyzed gaze. Like all of us, she juggles a busy life. And like many of us, she has dreams that either scare her or simply don’t fit right now. She asks:
What if I don’t apply and I waste another year of my life, my energy, or my potential? What if I do apply and graduate school becomes a nightmare, a drain on our bank account, or worse, they reject me—final proof that I really am an untalented hack?
3. John Nesbitt is a Young Professionals coach for The High Calling, and also happens to be my spiritual director. Taking actual quotes from the last eight months, John and I whittled our sessions about performance and potential into a single conversation. Here’s a sample of his wisdom from Midlife Milestones Unmet:
Think of it this way, Sam. As we age, the wisdom gained naturally leads to more realistic thinking, which makes you more likely to have to face, for example, the death of a dream, or the prospect of an unexpectedly less fantastic future. Mid-life crisis is the loss of the idealized you. But it needs to happen for you to find the real you.
4. Speaking of transparency, The High Calling is pleased to share an excerpt of the brand new book Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval—and Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes by Jennifer Dukes Lee. Her story about the quest to achieve the unachievable will speak to anyone who knows the pain of coming up short. Having been advised to let go a little, Jennifer recalls:
…I didn’t hear the teacher’s warning. I doubt I would have listened to my older, wiser self either. I heard only that one single word, and I let it roll around in my mouth: perfectionist. I rather liked how it sounded. Because if you took off the last six letters, you were left with something…perfect.
I’ve met few who seem content with life as it is; with performance as it is. Most are either kids too innocent to care, or elderly too smart for half-baked definitions. Standing at mid-life means I have neither of their perspectives. So I need to remember two things. First, God has been faithful in the past. Second, "performance vs. potential" is not as it’s written here: a rivalry. Instead, it is a balance. I just need to find it.
Performance vs. Potential Resources
If you followed the links above and found yourself nodding in agreement, consider these three resources. And be sure to look below for my one very important piece of advice.
- Midlife Crisis: Depression or Normal Transition? General overview and symptoms of this common season of life, from WebMD.
- High Potentials vs. High Performers: A Manager’s Guide to Identify, Assess and Develop. Helpful look at two types of employees/team members.
- For Bible readers: A list of verses on performance; another on potential.
My One Very Important Piece of Advice
“Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). Whether actual or perceived, the gap between performance and potential can distort reality. Find a wise friend, counselor, or spiritual director to help see you through.
Performance vs. Potential
The gap between performance and potential is far from neutral. On the positive side, it inspires. Think of the young professional who sees her future self in a seasoned colleague and dreams of achieving great things for God. Optimism and drive mark this view. On the negative side, however, the gap can be as haunting as it is illusory. Haunting because it confirms just how much we come up short; illusory because the gap tortures us with false truths about rank and value. For those who suffer the latter, even Jesus’ promise to be sufficient in our weakness goes unheard.
In The High Calling series on Performance vs. Potential, we’re taking an honest look at both perspectives. Will you join us? Whether you’re a dreamer seeking growth, or a doubter seeking peace, we believe you’ll be encouraged by what you read.
Image by Nicole Castle. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.