When asked the question, “Are you giving your best?” my initial thoughts usually gravitate toward the tasks I am currently working toward accomplishing. Work. Writing. Housecleaning. Volunteer activities. I also think about my physical self such as my efforts toward sports and exercising. All worthwhile activities, but the focus with each really lies only with this life. Sure, an argument could be made that these activities hold eternal value too, perhaps in the example I set and the attitude I possess while accomplishing them. But I have to be honest and admit that I don’t always consider the eternal when initially asked, “Are you giving your best?”
The fact that I am a perfectionist greatly comes into play since I struggle with doing something simply because that’s the right way to do it. Also, I care too much about what others think and am motivated by appearing to be doing my best. People are easily fooled though, and simply performing above average can give the illusion of best. But God knows the difference, and He knows that I don’t always give my best. What’s more, He knows that even when I am giving my best, I often fail to do so for the right reasons, for His glory rather than mine.
Why? What prevents me from giving my best at all times? And, when I feel like I am giving my best, why do I feel the need to seek the recognition and approval of man? These questions have forced a self evaluation, one long in coming and one that needs to take place before my spiritual maturity can progress. As I attempt to truly evaluate myself in a way that will move me toward my absolute best for God, I ask myself the following questions to help assess where I currently am with regard to “doing my best.”
- Does the goal sometimes hinder me from doing my best? In other words, am I focusing too much on the future at the expense of the present? Do I need to take my mind off my vision, at least partially, to focus on doing more right now rather than on what I need to do? Am I out of balance and need to redirect myself by Focusing on the Now?
- Are my goals temporal or eternal? Do I focus myself more on that which will one day “pass away”? (John 1:17) Or, do my goals reflect my belief in eternity? (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
- Do I need to see in order to believe, or am I willing to believe in order to see? Do I need to be quiet and silent for a while like Zacharias (Luke 1:5-25) in order to overcome my doubt? Do I have simple faith in God to be faithful as He has always proven Himself to be? Am I willing to have the faith of a mustard seed knowing He gives me the faith I need to accomplish His will? In other words, am I willing to walk by faith and not by sight? (2 Corinthians 5:1-9)
- Am I willing to accept that I need to have doubt in order to have faith? Am I willing to think and question and wrestle and struggle in order to see that He really is true and faithful? (See Faith and Doubt by John Ortberg for more on this topic.) Am I willing to have faith even when I can barely keep up and feel like I might drown?
- Can I accept that trials are opportunity for growth rather than simply as obstacles to my happiness and comfort? Am I willing to allow God to help me, knowing that He allows trials (tests) in order to build my faith? (James 1:2-4)
As I consider these questions, I realize the vital role that faith plays in doing my best. I realize that when I let God control my faith through His Holy Spirit, my faith blossoms and strengthens. But when my faith comes from my life circumstances, whether or not I face trials as well as if my focus lies in the temporal or the eternal, I realize that I am allowing my faith to be directed by forces (Satan & my flesh) other than the Author and Perfecter of my faith. (Hebrews 12:2) When my faith is misdirected, so are my efforts.
Perhaps this was too personal of a reflection for you to relate to, or perhaps you understand exactly why this personal reflection is necessary. I don’t know where you stand today, but I do know that when I allow my focus to be on anything except God, my growth becomes stagnant, and my attitude begins to stink. When this happens, I am unable to do my best. Either that, or my best becomes focused on that which does not go on into eternity.
No matter where you are with regard to the above questions, my personal belief is that we all need to assess our attitudes frequently to check The Aroma of Your Heart, and we all need to consider an Attitude Upgrade from time to time in order to truly become the Living Sacrifice and Living Stones that Christ calls us to be.
DISCUSSION: Are you giving your best on the things that truly matter? Is this sort of self assessment tough for you? Why or why not?
Note: This reflection was inspired by a sermon given by Jeff Zachary, associate pastor at New Hope Assembly of God in Three Rivers, MI.
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