The Gospel and Our Performance Based Mentality


As Sports Chaplains and athletes we deal with a number of common issues as we serve coaches, teams and staff. One key issue is a “performance based” approach to life. If you do not perform – you do not play. If you do not win – you will soon be looking for a job …. It is so easy living in the sports world under those rules that when looking at Christianity – we adopt what we know! It makes sense to apply a performance based understanding that says, “The good are favored by God and those like me are not!” So why try?

Read this short article by a Randy Pope from the Atlanta area, a pastor and friend to people of sport.


The Gospel & Performance Mentality by Randy Pope

Are you struggling with this? Most people do. Operating from the performance mode comes naturally to us. It just feels like we’re supposed to do something in order to get rightly related to God. Even if you are truly a born again Christian you may still struggle with a performance orientation in your relationship with God. Do you ever look at your past moral failures and wonder if they affect God’s love for you? Do you ever find yourself motivated to go to Church, to give money, or to spend time in personal worship because you worry that God’s favor won’t be quite the same if you don’t? Well, there are 3 simple beliefs about grace that can help you break out of the performance mentality. 

The first is we lost it all– meaning all humanity has lost all virtue in God’s eyes; not just perfection, but also all goodness. If this is true, then no amount of effort spent performing for God could ever result in your being good enough to earn His love. (And deep down we all know we should be a lot better.) In fact, the Bible teaches that, ?all our [performance based] righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight. Of course the performance mentality doesn’t believe that. It would have you believe we lost a lot, but not all. Performance tells you that there is something good enough you can and must do to earn a right standing with God. So, to break the trap of performance-based living, you must first embrace the belief that you lost it all.

The second is He did it all – meaning Christ did everything necessary to completely pardon lawbreakers like you and me. That means there is nothing left to be done. The grace of the great swap completely satisfies God and puts us in right relationship with Him. Performance thinking will tell you that He did a lot, but that we must also contribute faith and repentance out of our own goodness to make salvation a reality. But the true Gospel has no room for the meritorious work of self supplying any aspect of our salvation. Someone once said the only thing a person can contribute to their own salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.

The last is we get it all– meaning that God credits the full righteousness of Christ to His followers.

Therefore, since we are forever forgiven of all past, present, and future sins, we can be fully assured of God’s unconditional love. He also gives us everything necessary to live rightly related to Him and to be fully satisfied in life and eternity. Performance will tell you that we get a lot, but not everything that is needed. You can see that as long our beliefs leave us with anything lacking, this becomes the breeding ground for performance. Only when we believe we get it all and embrace the grace that comes via the cross can we expect to rest in Him and to accept that what He did for us was enough.

The good news – you qualify for God’s forgiveness and love! His agenda does not resemble the “performance based mentality!”

Now that is good news indeed!

Submitted by Ken Cross

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