By Ryan Rice
From elementary school to high school, I loved track & field. I decided to go for a run one day and, like Forrest Gump, I never stopped.
I can remember the first race I ever lost. I was in 6th grade, and the race was the 100-meter dash. Needless to say, I was overconfident.
At the time, I was the fastest kid at school and in my neighborhood. That was until Chris moved in. But I shrugged off all the talk that said Chris was faster or better than me.
We got to the starting line, set, and took off. Like Icarus—who flew too close to the sun—my overconfidence singed my proverbial wings, and I lost. Bad.
Maybe it was just the dose of humility 12-year-old me needed.
The Struggle to Prove Myself
The desire to continually prove to myself and others that I’m worthy and the best has been a significant driving force in my life.
After coming to faith in Christ, His grace filled my need of always having to prove myself. And yet, if I’m honest, it’s a struggle I still have to confront daily.
Success is a double-edged sword—one we must handle with great care. If not handled correctly, the same sword used to advance our goals will turn and cut us to pieces.
We can be driven by success until our aim isn’t an achievement, but perfection. Our drive to become the best turns into a facade of perfectionism.
But whose idea of success are we chasing? Have we submitted our view of success to the authority of Scripture? When we pursue our idea of success we try to handle our failures, faults, and fears on our own.
Perfectionism will have you acting as if you have it all together, all the time. People around you will begin to believe that facade as well.
Inwardly you may struggle with anxiety, self doubt, and worry, but outwardly you put on a big smile and say everything is all good—when in fact—it isn’t.
If this is the case for you, stop carrying the weight to be perfect.
Called to Faithfulness—Not Flawlessness
There are no perfect leaders and no perfect pastors. Too often, we not only try to have all the right theological answers but all the resolutions to everyone’s problems.
Becoming all things to all people doesn’t mean fulfilling all the needs of every person.
I had a pastor share with me that a member was disappointed he didn’t visit her enough. Her words crushed him.
He shared with me how he felt like an utter failure. His problem wasn’t with the person; it was with himself.
He stopped resting in the finished work of Christ and searched for his identity in the pursuit of perfection. It didn’t matter that he was a faithful pastor, taught the Word, and loved others. He let one person down, and this led him to believe he had ultimately failed the Lord.
While we should give our all and try our very best, we won’t always get it right. Yet, it’s faithfulness God calls us to, not perfection.
Find your confidence in Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:10 begins with, “But by the grace of God, I am what I am.” Is this how you see your leadership?
Sure, you could brag about who you are, the education you hold, or how great your resume is. But in the end, all those things come up short.
The same verse goes on to say, “and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”
As leaders, we can become immensely prideful or falsely humble. If we fall into either trap, we’re making it all about us.
Confidence in Christ says our leadership is all about Him. This is why we bring our great achievements and failures directly before His throne. Like Paul, we can say all we are is by the grace of God.
Have you set up an unrealistic ideal of perfection for yourself and ministry? Has this become your pursuit instead of resting in Christ?
The remedy we need is the one we proclaim. We must not forget: it isn’t what we can do; it’s what He’s already done on our behalf.
Let’s return to the gospel message and preach to ourselves that the finished work of the cross means we too can rest. We don’t need to try and prove ourselves. Christ, our perfect sacrifice, is all we need.
RYAN RICE, SR. (@ryanricesr) is husband to Seané, father of Ryan, Jr., Brayden, Reagen, and Bailey, and has been in ministry since 2007. He’s currently the lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans, Louisiana, which they planted in 2014.