I’m overly self-critical.
Some self-criticism is good, I think. You don’t let your own head get too big. You don’t disrepect others as often. You remember your place more often than not. But there’s a fine line between self-criticism and self-loathing.
Know people like that? They are always careful never to accept praise and always deflect it to the Lord (which isn’t a bad thing). They rarely accept credit for anything, even a hard day’s work. They don’t even take compliments well. And it’s not that they’re being rude or falsely humble. They just want God to get the glory for every aspect of their lives. And that’s not wrong. Not at all.
But have you noticed that people who live that way struggle with being honest in their assessments of themselves?
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
If you’ve read any of my blogs for any length of time, you know that I’m a performance-driven perfectionist. No matter what I’m doing, I can’t ever do it well enough to please myself. I can always do a better job. It’s a mindset I’ve been fighting against for many years, and by God’s grace I’m learning how to stifle that horrid voice in the back of my brain that tells me I’m never good enough.
But as I was reading this morning, this verse stuck out to me–that we are to be honest when we self-evaluate.
That’s hard for me. My first response when I evaluate myself is to say that I’m not sufficient. I don’t work as hard as I could. I don’t perform to my own expectations. And I’m just not good enough for anyone or anything. But is that true? I’m probably not a good person to ask. Because if you talk to anyone who knows me or works with me, they’d say that’s all rubbish.
So how can you be honest when you evaluate yourself if your default mindset is to tear yourself apart?
Well, for one, God says we’re to measure ourselves by the faith He’s given us. Not our accomplishments. Not our wealth or power or status. So how do you measure by faith? Well, I think there’s two ways to look at that. I’m obviously not a scholar, but you can take that statement either literally or figuratively. God’s given some folks more faith than others, and that’s not because God plays favorites. That’s because God has work for some people to do that requires a lot of faith. God doesn’t play favorites, but He does put people where He can use them best. And it’s not a contest. It’s just His story, and He’s working it out according to His plan.
But you can also measure yourself in faith.
I believe God loves me. I believe Jesus died for me. I believe that nothing I can ever do or nothing anyone can do to me will separate me from God’s love. Nothing can take away my salvation. And nothing will make God love me more or less. That’s how I can measure myself–by faith in the fact of who God is and what He’s done for me.
Knowing that, I can be honest. No, I don’t work as hard as I could, but God is strong where I’m weak. No, I don’t always perform to my own expectations, but it’s not my expectations that matter. And I’m not good enough to deserve salvation, but God loves me anyway.
So the next time you have to evaluate yourself, take a moment and truly remember who you are and what God has done for you. It’ll help you see yourself in a little clearer light. Maybe that doesn’t help with an evaluation at work, but it’ll keep your head clear for an evaluation of life. And that’s more important anyway.