The Performance Trap: Where Do We Find True Significance


The staff and students were playing basketball at the Colvin center on a Friday afternoon. Jen and I had just moved to Stillwater and began our first week on campus. We had shared the vision of Cru during follow-up appointments, we had executed our first Cru meeting, we had passed out hundreds of flyers. On Friday afternoon, it was time to connect with the new staff and students I had met by playing some basketball.

It was at this point that I heard five words that would drastically change my life over the next five years.

Understanding this concept has changed my walk with God, my time in the Word, my desire to connect and serve my family, and how I meet with and lead students.

As we were shooting for teams, Dan Boone, our team leader said, “Ben, you are a workaholic.”

I think my response was something along the lines of “Okay, sure, you have just met me and are going to call me a workaholic after one week. Great!”

Dan then went on to explain he was a recovering workaholic and that performing for others at work had caused him to have regrets about the way he invested his time in his thirties. He then kindly said, “I don’t want the same thing for you.”

This was the beginning of a journey that will ultimately last the rest of my life.

Figuring out what the Performance Trap is and how to avoid frequently stepping in the trap has been one of the most meaningful things I have learned over the past year. Dan and I have been meeting each week processing this together. Understanding this concept has changed my walk with God, my time in the Word, my desire to connect and serve my family, and how I meet with and lead students.

Here is a diagram that explains the essential ideas of the Performance Trap.



A few observations help explain this diagram.

1. God’s Character

To avoid the trap, we have to rightly understand who God is. When we perform, we are trying to manufacture significance. To counter that, we must understand that our significance, in reality, is rooted in Gods deep love for us as a creation of His. God loves us for who we are, humans made in His image, and not what we do to perform for Him.

2. Our Attitude

We should love God, no matter what he seemingly does or does not do for us. I immediately think of Israel wandering in the desert and remind myself that I too have a hard time expressing love to God when I am not sure what He is doing. Then, when God blesses me, nothing but positive and thankful thoughts come to mind. The reality is that we are to reflect God’s character back to Him, by loving God not based on what He does for us.

3. How We Treat Others

When we are honest about the depths of our heart, we really like to make people earn our love, time and attention. We have to be careful about this. Applying this is tough, but the value you give to others is worth it. When we can get to a spot in a relationship where we aren’t making people jump through our created hurdles, people feel the value they have as God’s creation.

Understanding the performance trap has crucial for me and my growth. We are significant to God based on His love for us as His creation, not because of how we perform. I hope that by consistently reflecting on this and then sharing it with people in your circle of influence, you will benefit from the depth this concept has. I know I certainly have.



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