I have lived my whole life within a performance-based culture, where doing something is valued much higher than being someone. “What do you do for a living?” is often the first question I hear after meeting someone. It makes sense then that this value system crept into my life until it began to define my identity.
My experience isn’t unique for those of us who live in the United States, and I expect it isn’t uncommon throughout the world. Unfortunately for all of us, this value system is misleading and can be highly destructive. Even as a devoted follower of Christ, I allowed this way of thinking to guide my daily decision-making and even influence my role as a ministry leader, and it led to burnout: physical, emotional, and spiritual. On the surface, I had it together, but on the inside I was exhausted.
As believers in Jesus Christ we have been offered an uncommon, otherwordly value system, one in which we find our identities only in Him. We have intrinsic value because we are all made in the Image of God (Genesis 1:26), and we are of inestimable value to Him, demonstrated by the sacrifice of His Son on the Cross (John 3:16).
Very little in the world reinforces God’s value system, while we are often rewarded for our compliance with the world’s. How then do we make this difficult and counter-cultural transition? While there’s no secret formula for success, there is a discipline, and it’s one that I seek to practice every day. I call it ABA: Abide – Believe – Abide.
- Abide with Christ
We must allow our minds to be transformed by the truth of who He says He is and who He says we are. He is the Creator of all of us, including our identies, and He is the most dependable judge of character!
- Believe in his love and acceptance
This is a profoundly difficult demand, perhaps the most difficult thing for a person to do, but it’s crucial to our success in living by God’s design.
- Abide some more
Make room for reflection, soaking, and waiting on His leading. Be intentional about being a son or daughter of God, or all of your doing will crowd this out!
Even as I write this I find myself thinking, Why haven’t I done more of this today? ABA offers us the strength to enter any circumstance that we’re faced with, and it provides the perspective and resolve to guide all of the doing that we’re driven to undertake. Don’t stop doing for the Lord, but don’t start the doing until you’ve spent time being.
ABA, Abba. ABA, Abba.