Performance culture is destroying us. Basing someone’s value on what they produce or skills they have is problematic. It causes us to view each other as commodities, as things we use, and not value each other as the unrepeatable, unreplaceable, and precious beings of infinite value we are.
We start viewing ourselves with this understanding that we are only as good as the validation that we get from others for what we do. If I believe I only get my worth from how well I perform, then who is the best judge of that? I would assume other people would be more objective of my performance than myself and then give them all the power of determining my value.
This would mean that I would then measure myself based on how well my performance is received by others. We are made for more than just acceptance and praise from others. Living for human admiration alone will leave us feeling empty. Think of the many celebrities and public figures who have not found peace and fulfillment through their status.
More problems occur due to our performance culture among young people. We are seeing more young people struggling with anxiety and depression. Many people blame social media, which can be a part of propelling these issues, however, I believe our culture as a whole is the bigger issue.
As a society we have an issue with looking only at the exterior, tangible attributes and merits of people to determine how good they are. We forget people have worth and dignity by simply existing. We begin to assume other people simply live to either make us happy or get in the way of our happiness, which falls under the error of utilitarianism.
We need to move away from this type of thinking. We cannot continue to think about others in this way or we will see more people falling to depression, anxiety, and other mental issues. The best way to start improving is to stop thinking about yourself with a performance mentality and learn your true identity.
How do we do this? Listen to a football star.
I just heard an amazing quote about the power and freedom of knowing your true identity from none other than Super Bowl Champ and MVP, Cooper Kupp. After an incredible season as the L.A. Rams’ wide receiver and showing up big for Super Bowl Sunday, the prolific player shared a powerful statement about his faith and where his worth comes from.
In his post-Super Bowl game interview, Cooper said:
“I just got to play free knowing that I got to play from victory and not for victory. I got to play in a place where I was validated not from anything that happened on the field but because of my worth in God my Father.”
This is how we all should live. These words should always be engraved in our hearts. We should remember them, because, regardless of our football skills, these words are true of all of us.
Let’s take some time to reflect on what he really means. In his first sentence, Kupp is referring to football, however, you can still apply it to your life. You are meant to live "from victory, not for victory,” meaning Jesus already won the war through His sacrifice. You do not need to earn your place in the world.
You also do not need to prove yourself in order to earn your worth in the eyes of others. You already have worth! Jesus poured out His blood for you and He would not if we were not worth it.
Kupp was then able to experience the absolute freedom of knowing this. On the football field, he did not measure his self-worth based on how many catches he made, or touchdowns scored. He knew he had tremendous worth already, and then did his job.
Can you do that as well? Can you understand that you have incredible value despite your mistakes or shortcomings? Whether you are great at your job, everyone likes you, your five-year plan looks amazing, or you do not have any of these things, you are loved. You do not need to do anything to earn this love. You already have it.
This is the best part about what Kupp said: “I was validated not from anything that happened on the field but because of my worth in God my Father.” You too are not validated by how well you perform in the world. You have it all in God’s love for you already.