By Rod Stewart, Certified Halftime Coach
I’ve seen many successful people come into their Halftime experience saying, ‘I’m dissatisfied with my life, and I believe God wants me to do something different. I think doing things more directly for God instead of building my own success will satisfy this hunger in my soul.” Little do they realize what really is going on runs much deeper than changing careers or using their talents in a new venue. Rather, God is working in their soul.
The marketplace system is built around quid-pro-quo: you do good things for me and I will reward you. And so we learn the system. We learn how to compete and win in whatever business setting we find ourselves in. Often we carry into our marketplace career, the system of survival we learned as a child. We yearn for love, acceptance and significance, and therefore find a way, even if it is built on falsehood, to satisfy that yearning.
When I was a child, I received love and affirmation as I excelled in school and sports. So I carried that system of thinking into my work experience: hard work, self-sufficiency, achievement, winning no matter what, climbing over obstacles, ensuring successful outcomes. It was the ‘take the hill at all cost’ kind of American success mentality we see every day. However, when I came to faith in Christ late in college, I felt a huge weight had been taken off my shoulders. Now I just did my best and left the rest up to God. But gradually, as I progressed in my career and put more time and energy into my work, my mental framework shifted back to my childhood survival mode. I worked harder, longer, and competed fiercely. And guess what? I was rewarded well. The mental framework for successful living was reinforced. But along the way, the system of hard work, success, measurable results plus the financial and social rewards created an emptiness in my heart. Achievement had become an idol, a master that drove me. When I did achieve something, including doing things for God, I felt good. When I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, I felt lousy about myself. The good feelings never lasted and I always felt as if I needed to do more.
As a Halftime coach, I meet a lot of high-capacity leaders, and many of them have a similar story. A childhood wound or dysfunctional family system that set them up for a need to achieve drives them to succeed. But this type of lifestyle always runs out of gas. Achievement doesn’t satisfy. Why? We are designed for a different life.
The spiritual system God has designed us for is almost completely opposite of the business world.
We are designed to let Christ live through us, rather than work hard for Him. Working hard for Him is a form of legalism: trying to earn God’s favor and love (and our own significance) by what we do.
I think we can slip into this legalistic mindset quite easily. We think “I need to find my calling and I need to fulfill what God has called me to do.” So we take charge, we work hard, we use our talents, we network, we position ourselves, we promote our personal brand, we do a lot of things just like we did in the marketplace to find the thing God wants us to do. But a strange thing happens – we find no greater satisfaction than we had in the marketplace. Why? We are deceived about the truth of our new life in Christ. Our mental framework and our view of God are distorted.
There comes a time, in God’s timing, that all of our trying to please Him and all of our doing things for Him, crashes down around us. We just can’t do it. We just can’t work any harder. Maybe we have some sort of emotional breakdown or physical illness that forces us to capitulate. We just can’t do it anymore.
This is when God, in His kindness, is able to show us that there is a better way to live . . .