I continue corresponding with DaughteroftheKing. (Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them.) Her words are in italics. I believe that you just might find out some surprising things about yourself if you are willing to examine your heart along with us today. 🙂
1. You need success in school and in music? Why?
That’s how it feels. I know from experience. Every time there are problems with my violin study, I have an emotional low. It’s like taking the ground away under my feet. While I can admit that with school and grades it seems to by only my pride which makes me suffer, I sometimes think that with violin it could be something else. That was one of the reasons my mom encouraged me to go on playing, because she saw how much it meant to me. But I don’t think that this is good. I wish I was kind of more stable, knowing that this is what God wants me to do, so nothing can go wrong. But I don’t know what God wants me to do… I wish that my greatest desire would be to bless people with my music, not to be the best or to always play better and better. You know, I think that there are two types of musicians: the “wordly” musicians, inspired by their studies and their own desire. But I’ve seen other people: they aren’t nervous when they play, because what they play comes from their heart. They seem to be in another world when they play, as if they were playing only for God. That’s why I think that being a good musician has perhaps even more to do with your personality and your personal spiritual growth and relationship with God than with a good technique and a career. But this idea occurred to me just now, as I am writing this. God seems to be inspiring me 🙂 I guess there should be more of that: trust in God, full surrendering to him and to the music itself. Did you know that in the Bible there are two very beautiful passages about music(but it depends on the translation). I don’t know where they are, but I now the content: one tells us that God himself is sitting in paradise and making music, and the other one talks about the stars who sing 🙂
2. Do you actually need it? Is this truly a need or is it a desire? I mean, getting good grades is great. But, you can live and breathe and function if you get B’s, right? As long as you have air, food, a place to live and you can still have people in your life and relationships even if you don’t have perfect grades. Does your value as a person depend on having high grades?
No, it clearly doesn’t.
No, getting good grades is not a basic human need and it’s certainly not necessary! 😀 That one was kind of an eye opener… But according to Maslow human beings do have the desire for self-realisation, and I think that having goals or plans helps us do strive to do our best…What does the Bible say about this?
It is great to do our best because we want to do our best and we want to honor and please God. But other motives can slip in there that can be quite sinful – so it is important to check our motives often and to allow God to purify and refine our motives.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24
It is wonderful to want to do your best and to want to be a good steward of the talents and abilities God has given to you and to work hard. That is great!
But – it is very important to know where our worth and value come from.
We have worth because God made us. He made us to be image bearers of Himself. We are lovable because God made us to be loved and He loves us. It is important for us to know why we have value and not to get confused by thinking our value comes from our grades or talents.
3. What value do people have who are not able to get high grades?
The same as everyone else. But it’s also important to know why they can’t get good grades. Is it because they are lazy and don’t care about it? Or is it, because there are things which are more important also in Gods view and they are spending their time on that instead of studying? For example, I know Christians who prefer to spend time with their family, church or helping the needy. They just have priorities. I personally look up to them. While they aren’t disrespectful to the teachers, they just step back on their own success for others. Wow. And of course there are people, who have another way of thinking or great trouble with todays educational system. I would say that the 2 types I mentioned in the end clearly don’t loose value because of their grades.
The purpose of grades is just to help us strive to do our best. They are not meant to be a source of our worth as human beings. If we keep grades in the proper perspective, they can be helpful. But if we believe our worth and value is dependent on every grade we make – then we are making grades into something they were never meant to be. Then it is very easy to make them into an idol that we cherish more than Christ. We have to watch our motives, hidden thoughts and desires here carefully.
People have value as people in God’s eyes because He created them with value.
Grades cannot detract or add to the value God has given to each person. Grades have nothing to do with a person’s value in God’s eyes. He does not love us more if we have higher grades. He does not love us less if we have lower grades. he does not love us more if we are holy and obedient and He does not love us less when we sin.
- God loves us because God is Love.
- His love has nothing to do with our performance.
We can seek to do our best with our grades to please and honor God. That is good. But His love for us and our worth in Christ has NOTHING to do with our grades or performance.
4. What happens when you enter a phase of your life where you do not receive any praise from people?
I never thought there would be such a phase. I guess I would be totally dependent on God. I would have to examine constantly what I’m doing and thinking, knowing that if I’m living according to his word, I don’t need praise from humans any more. That’s kind of a deep feeling of knowing that you’re on the right way. Maybe I’m trying to cover my inner spiritual warning system with the praise of other people?
It can be very disconcerting at first when you are used to the framework of grades and honors and accolades from people and you don’t have that anymore. It is very strange to not plan your next semester’s course load and not to have to study for tests. That whole grid of grades and school disappears.
You cannot build your life on grades and schoolwork. It comes to an end.
I would like to see you realize now that the grades thing is temporary and serves its purpose. But it is not a foundation upon which to measure your life.
5. What if your future husband is a fairly non-verbal man and just doesn’t give much praise? What will you do?
Hmmmm… I guess that this would be a difficult situation. Because of my experience I think I would basically prefer someone who does a lot of talking himself 😀 But if this was the case, I would try to do two things:
- First of all the thing mentioned in the question above.
- Second, I would have to remind myself that I can’t do anything to earn a person’s love, that love is something one has to give voluntarily. So, that means that my primary goal would be to do what is good in God’s eyes, just because it’s his will and not because I would like to hear praise from my husband (he wouldn’t give it anyway ;)). And I would have to learn to see his love the way he chooses to express it.
I’m a bit confused now. Since when does praising something have to do with love?
“Praise is the act of making positive statements about a person, object or idea, either in public or privately. Praise is typically, but not exclusively, earned relative to achievement and accomplishment“
This made me think. Even though this may be true from a worldly point of view, aren’t we as believers in Christ called to “make positive statements about a person“ unconditionally, which means that we shouldn’t only speak well of a person if he or she is successful in our eyes?
Yes, we are called to build up, encourage and speak life with our words as believers.
But many women enter into romantic relationships and marriage expecting constant verbal affirmation and praise from their men. A lot of men don’t think that way and don’t talk that way. Praise is wonderful. But – if you base your worth on other people’s praise, and then you don’t have that praise – what happens to your sense of worth?
I like your plan about what you would do in a marriage relationship with a husband who was not given to much verbal praise. That was good!
6. If you have children, they won’t be able to praise you for many, many years. Where will your sense of worth come from?
Maybe indirectly from them. When I see that they have a good character, that they are good people, that they grow up in a healthy environment to become healthy personalities. So I would look more on the results. What do you think about this idea?
My prayer is that your sense of worth will come from God alone. Parents who idolize their children and find their worth in their children’s performance put extreme pressure on children to be perfect – which is not possible. It is damaging to chidlren when we expect them to give us our sense of worth.
7. On your job in the future, you will likely not get much praise at all. What will your motivation be to do a good job?
I think we as Christians are to be a source of good to the world. Since hard work is often mentioned in the bible as valuable, and laziness and idleness as undesirable, actually the natural outcome would be to do a good job.… Also, maybe the chief is in a position of authority? I just think that as Christians we should always want to do a good job, whether or not we receive something for it doesn’t matter.
Right. God will reward us in heaven for doing our best. That is enough. 🙂
Here is a problem with making high grades so important and all that feedback and affirmation so important. It goes away after school. Then you lose the scale you used to feel successful and to feel affirmed. Then, you start to want to find affirmation like that in other areas of your life, too. This actually easily leads to a wife demanding that her husband give her attention, affirmation, encouragement, feedback, praise, etc… because when you get addicted to those good report cards, you can feel like you are floating in space without having that constant affirmation that you are “good enough” and that you are “better than everyone else” and that you are “perfect.”
Yikes, I already see myself with some sort of a “best wife/mom”-award 😀 When I think about it now, I do have these ambitions of being “good enough”, “better than everyone else” and “perfect” also in other areas of my life, and that they were as well my unconscious goals for marriage. I guess this isn’t so very clever. Thank you so much for making me see this now, it surely would have been a catastrophe ten years from now!!! I realise that I often think about myself in this way. For example, I’m better than someone else because I’m more obedient and respectful towards my parents, or because I dress more modestly, or because I don’t participate in the common kind of gossip(which doesn’t mean I don’t despise them in my head, I just don’t say it loudly.). Ok, I agree that this is a more fundamental problem than I thought it was. It is my general view of myself and of others and of basically everything, which is wrong. I could go on to give you hundreds of examples of why I should be better than someone else. I think I never learned what it meant to be equal, or to be a team. Maybe because I don’t have any siblings? Seriously, I couldn’t imagine sharing my parents with someone else^^. I don’t think I am able to really see someone as equally valuable as myself, or even better than I am. I always start finding faults in them.
This is a very deep-seated spiritual issue. Where will we find our worth?
- Is my worth in high grades?
- In being “better” than other people?
- In being “perfect”?
Or is it in my position in Christ?
Then, I can look at others as being my equals at the foot of the cross – all of us are wretched sinners and all of us desperately need Christ.
And I can approach others and God with real, sincere humility.
I don’t have to compare myself to others at all. I only compare myself to Christ and ask God to make me more and more like Him.
I never learned to look at others as my equal or to be a team. I did have siblings!
Why would you need to or want to look for faults in others?
That could apply for violin too: instead of me trying my best and just working toward my goal, I take everyone else into account and worry about them and their success and so on. I think right know I’m like the Pharisees, thinking they are better but missing the truly important things. I’ going to read all the verses in the new testament where Jesus talks about them.
Yep. Exactly. I think you are beginning to see clearly!
There is a great deal of pride at the root of this mindset. At least there sure was for me!
Wicktionary: pride is “inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, rank etc., which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve and often contempt of others.“
Yes I totally agree. When I first read your email, I didn’t, but now I do. Especially after reading this definition of it(by the way, I love definitions, they often show me a new perspective on things by stating exactly to what a word refers.)
Thanks for the definitions! That is very helpful!
It is easy for us to be blind to our pride and self-righteousness. I sure was. Now, I can’t see how I didn’t see it. It was obvious to everyone else. 🙁
Pride is arguably the root sin of all other sins.
And there was no one that Jesus reprimanded and rebuked more harshly than the Pharisees for their pride and self-righteousness. I was just like that.
8. Where does God say your worth comes from?
I hope I can answer those questions correctly. I became a Christian about a year ago, when I first found your blog, and I don’t know so much yet. My worth comes from the fact that He made me and that He gave his only Son for me. And that He always cared about me. God is the one who gives worth to things, because He made them.
9. Why does He love you?
Because God is love. He is forgiving, which enables him to love me despite all the things I have done wrong. He created the world, and he loves his creation. He cares deeply about it, trying to restore things as they were before the fall.
10. What can take away His love for you?
I don’t think that there is anything which could take away his love for me, but there are millions of things which can take me away from his love, so that I become blind and deaf in a spiritual sense, so that I can’t feel it anymore.
VERY good answer!!!!! 🙂
11. What is God’s purpose for your life?
To do his will? To love him every day more and more? To get to know him better every day? To portray him and his love to the world? To live the way he wants it, so that the beauty of it can draw other people to him?
The Bible says not to seek the approval of men but of God. Do you realize that you have to choose between the two? Either I seek people’s approval, or I put God’s approval first.
No, I didn’t realise it until now. For me it was kind of the same.
It puts things into very clear perspective when we realize this is our choice.
Check out these verses about approval of men
12. What would change in your life and your priorities if your only purpose was to receive the praise of God when this life is over, and you didn’t care about the approval of people?
Maybe I would love them more and I would love him more. I would be able to hear his voice more clearly. My priorities would be his priorities. But I can’t tell you more… I can’t imagine how such a live could look like or what my priorities would be. I just know that it certainly would be more joy giving and beautiful
This is the goal! You are beginning to see a glimpse of it. 🙂 WOOHOOO!
Tomorrow we will continue this conversation and talk about seeking the approval of people vs. seeking the approval of God!