Performance vs. Potential: Open Hands

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

James 1:5

Not too long ago, I stood in my kitchen with four small faces gazing up at me, waiting for me to give them instruction and guidance, and I knew in my bones:

I can’t do this.

That was not the first time those words had crossed my mind or pierced my heart. I am reminded, almost daily, that I am unequal to the tasks before me.

These children? I cannot raise them to be loving, faithful, and true…because I’m not.

This article? I can’t write it…there are too many deadlines and too little time.

This speech? I can’t give it…my words are dried to the roof of my mouth, and there’s no water in sight.

This relationship? I can’t love this person…I don’t even like him!

I can’t do this.

But that day in the kitchen, a small voice seemed to rise from somewhere deep within me. “You’re right. You can’t. But I can.” I can’t. But Jesus can.

The problem isn’t that I don’t have strength or wisdom or courage enough to do the task at hand—Christ in me has all the strength and wisdom and courage in the universe and beyond it. The problem, far too often, is that I don’t ask for what I need, and won’t receive what is freely given. My hands are clenched shut. To receive Christ’s strength, courage, and wisdom I must open my hands, let go of the fear, pride, perfectionism, driven-ness—whatever I’m holding on to. I must let it all fall to the ground. Only then can Jesus fill my hands…with himself.

Living in him, and he in me, I can do the task at hand, however fearful and impossible it seems to me. I can raise these children. I can write the article, give the speech, love that unlikeable colleague. The gap between what I can do and what I must do—between my performance and my potential—shrinks when I remember that Christ in me is just waiting for me to ask him to strengthen me.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How can you invite Jesus, who strengthens and empowers you for all things, into the gap between what you can do and what you must do? What do you need to let go of so that he can pour his strength into you?

PRAYER: Jesus, I try so hard to do my life myself. I forget that I have resources of strength and wisdom and courage to tap into—your strength, your wisdom, your courage. I open my hands today to receive you, and your goodness. I pray that You would open my eyes to the myriad ways I try to barrel or muddle through on my own, and I ask that You would remind me in those moments to lean hard on Your strength that is in me. Amen.


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 above by Terence S. Jones. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.

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