Words of Hope: A Better Person
The slogan for NBC Camps is better players, better people. Dad and I talked about relentlessly pursuing excellence in life without leading to perfectionism and burnout. My dad struggled with burnout and depression and learned the hard way that better doesn’t mean working harder. I had to learn this as well. The summer before my senior year in college, I wrote down major goals for my life. I wanted to work out every day, pray for a certain amount of time, write music, help the poor, and of course, strive to be humble. I woke up at 5:00 am every morning and went to lift weights and work out. Then, I would spend an hour in prayer. I felt guilty any morning I didn’t give a hundred percent, especially if I didn’t feel like praying. My day became regimented with goals to get better and be my best. At the end of five weeks of this rigid daily schedule, I found out I had mono. I was exhausted, run-down, and not any closer to my goal of becoming a better person. Devotionals had become a dreaded task. Trying to be my best quickly became a benchmark of impossibility and pressure. A life of burnout was the result.
Dad and I learned as burnt-out folks; we love to run hard and die quickly. We found the harder we tried, the harder we had to try. When I defined better as perfection, I only felt worse.
Dad and I learned that truly becoming a better person will not lead to burnout. It can’t because we will recognize our pattern of self-destruction, our quest for perfection, and instant change. Getting better isn’t formulaic or step-oriented, or overnight. I was attempting to use external tools through my own efforts and regiments to drive bettering my inner life. Dad and I found that the will to turn our faces toward Jesus and give everything to Him is the foundation of becoming better. We found becoming a better person is a lifelong journey, not a sprint toward transformation. I finally laid down my goal-setting sheets, devotional books, and regimented schedule. I started to consider that becoming better requires a different point of view and an entirely different way to live. It begins with humble listening, gratitude, and total reliance on God to work through me. I can’t make myself better by working harder; I must become better through the One who loves me best. Love changes us and transforms us. Work motivated by my own inner ambition is vain and fruitless. Work generated from the overflow of God’s love and grace is life-giving.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing. – I Corinthians 13:1-3