Beware of the Performance Trap

Have you ever been on a mountain road and come up on a road sign that reads “Caution – dangerous curve” or “Caution – narrow pass?” You know that to proceed, you must be careful, be fully alert and drive slowly. Well, I want to talk to you about a topic and as we go “down this road”; let’s picture a road sign that reads “Danger Ahead – Beware of the Performance Trap.”

Proverbs 29:25 says “The fear of man lays a snare but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe” (ESV) The Message translation says, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.

Let’s ask ourselves this question. “Do I do what I do for the approval of others?” The answer to that question determines if we’re headed into the performance trap or not.

Probably, for many of us, our first response is absolutely “No – The approval of others is not that important to me!” But, after some thought, I think approval of others, their opinion, is more important to all of us than we realize.

How much thought do we give to what others will think? How much importance do we give to others’ feedback? How much of what we do is determined by the opinion of others?

A few years ago I went to a church leaders conference and Chuck Swindoll was one of the speakers. He said that one of the things he’s learned over his many years of ministry is to not put too much importance on people’s opinions – the praise that he receives or the criticism he receives, neither turns his head.

What he places as MOST important is God’s approval – wise words from a wise man!

You see, if we put too much importance on the opinions of others it could lead us to focusing on ourselves and on “performing” instead of ministering. There’s a fine line between performing and wanting to do your best. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do your best! You can fall into the performance trap when your “performance” is based more on pleasing man, seeking praise and approval from others – looking for those pats on the back.

Ministering should always be based in pouring yourself out for the Lord and trusting Him with the outcome. When the fear of human opinion guides you and begins to disable you, you’re walking in a danger zone. Suddenly you’re doing what you do to please others and you’re in great danger of falling into the trap.

So as we go down this road of ministry watch for the signs -“Beware of the Performance Trap.” Be prepared and do your best but don’t put too much stock in the praise you receive or the criticism you hear. Faithfully serve, trusting the Lord with the results. Keep your heart in check, be careful, be fully alert and be purposeful.

Beware of the performance trap!