The Doer Dilemma

When my father retired from work 20 years ago, I remember how he struggled to feel settled and to find a sense of purpose apart from being a “working” man.

For a time I think Dad felt a little lost (although he probably would never admit it). The sense of responsibility and achievement he got from having somewhere to “go” and something to “do” each day was gone. The recognition by others for his contributions, the seeking of his experienced counsel by work colleagues, and the sense of pride in a job well done was gone. It was sad for me to see Dad feeling “out of place” for a while.

Many years later (in 2010), my turn came to retire from work. For years I had longed for that day to come—the day when I could step off the “treadmill” of my labour and effort, and just be. I was so excited and grateful to be able to retire in my early 40s—thanks to my wonderful husband.

Older friends warned me that I might feel “lost” for a while—and they were right—I did! I remember questioning my whole existence and asking myself, “What is my purpose in life? What should I be doing”? My sense of self-worth took a hit because my identity had become hard wired to what I did. I thrived on being a doer and got much of my value from what I accomplished, instead of who I was. I had become a human DOing instead of a human BEing.

Have you ever owned a treadmill, run on one or maybe just seen one in the window of your local gym as you passed by with your coffee and donut—no judgment intended! Then you understand what they are designed to do—to generate EFFORT!

Treadmills create motion and generate a certain type of commotion—a symphony of sorts: of pounding feet, quickened breath and racing hearts. What a great picture they are of exertion and effort—of running for miles without actually getting anywhere.

Of course “doing” and “effort” is a necessary part of life and it is good for us to delight in the work of our hands—after all, God does (Zeph. 3:17, Psalm 104:31). As Christians, we are called to DO the works of Christ, but our identity—our very sense of worth—is not found in all our DOING—it is found in all our BEING.

And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.

2 Cor. 6:18 (NASB)

How many people do you know are busy but barren; engaged but empty? This is the very definition of frustration.

Stepping off the “works” treadmill does not mean quitting on our responsibilities: our jobs, our families, our ministries etc. What it does mean is this: that our acceptance and worth in the eyes of God is not based on the mere ticking of boxes on a “to do” list each day, nor in doing the works of God alone; it is found in BEING the work of God and finding your value in this.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)

Our sense of worth and acceptance should never be based on the merits of what we accomplish or in any position we hold or role we fill. If so, then our worth and value goes up and down depending on how well we think we are “performing” or how much we are accepted or praised by others for what we do.

Our identity comes from who we are: dearly loved children of a loving Heavenly Father! Our worth comes from the value He has placed on us (and if you’re not sure how much you are valued, it was high enough for Jesus to want to die for you)!

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Rom. 5:8 (NIV)

Out of a relationship with God, our hearts settle into BEING a son or a daughter of God who is led in all their efforts rather than driven by them.

We will experience more joy; know more peace and become more effective in all our “doing” if we stop for a moment and simply and profoundly practise BEING in God. Here is where our true identity and worth is affirmed and where true fruit bearing momentum begins!

Make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life,
and he will provide for you what you desire the most.
Give God the right to direct your life,
and as you trust him along the way
you’ll find he pulled it off perfectly!

Psalm 37:4-5 (TPT)

Clear some space each day to develop your spiritual life–read or listen to God’s Word, pray in the Holy Spirit, worship, sit quietly in His presence and listen. Reset your focus each day so that in all your “doing” you can reach your desired destination.

But those who wait for God’s grace
will experience divine strength.
They will rise up on soaring wings and fly like eagles,
run their race without growing weary,
and walk through life without giving up. 

Isaiah 40:31 (TPT)

Tracey Pekkanen

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