A Letter to my Overachieving Friends

Dear Overachieving Friends:

Thank you for inspiring me. I’m serious, now. No snark, I promise.

Your tendency to reach for great things is a prophetic challenge to me. Too often I succumb to shifting into neutral and vegetating in front of a video game or a TV program. I need your crazy energy to slop over onto me, and I need your relentless conviction that you can achieve great things to spur me into action. Your productivity helps me to see what is possible. So, thank you.

But to be fair, since you’re so good at challenging me, I also have a challenge for you.

Relax. Apply some of your overachieving energy to the work of disengaging (I promise I’m still not being snarky here).

I am worried about you. Here are a few things that concern me ….

Value

Too often you receive a sense of value from your accomplishments. You need to free yourself from that unhealthy association. Should you become confined to a bed for months or even years and manage only the most basic levels of communication, you would be no less a bearer of God’s image and no less beloved by him. I know this because when my children were infants and could do nothing but create work for me I was utterly overcome with love for them (still am … even when they don’t clean up after themselves). I am deeply impressed with the immeasurable value of a baby who produces nothing but work for others. Your value has nothing to do with your productivity.

Identity

I sometimes worry that you believe your identity is wrapped up in your achievements. Who you are as a person has so little to do with any formal certificate, degree, job history, or extra-curriculars you have accomplished. Your sense of humor, the way you love others, how you think, and how you relate to children will never make it onto your résumé, but these are a truer reflection of your identity than your achievements. Most of the people you love, or the kids you play with or the homeless person you stopped to chat with, don’t give a whit about the responsibilities you’ve managed and the organizations you’ve served as an officer in. What you do and who you are touch in so very few and insignificant places.

Time

I think you and I view time very differently. There is enough time. It is sufficient for all that is necessary. There is even enough time to sit in the presence of God without agenda, without prayer and without listening with pen in hand ready to take notes. God may not want to speak to you, but simply may want to be in your presence. There is time to simply be with God and nothing else.

So, thanks for inspiring me to work hard. Please receive this as a friendly invitation to rest without any objective save to free yourself from any slavish association between what you accomplish and who you are. Be released from how you have connected your achievements with God's love (or mine for that matter), and from the terrible sense that there is not enough time to simply be with God.

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