The performance-driven world is an insatiable and seductive false god.
Men, even Christian men, sacrifice their marriages, their children, their health, even their relationship with God on the altar of more, bigger, or greater performance.
While being sacrificial is an attribute men are called to develop within themselves, these are the wrong costs. These are the losing trades.
Although the typical lures might be for more money, more power, or more fame associated with secular professions in finance, technology, or politics, the "spiritual" professions aren't any more immune. A desire for published books, bigger audiences, and larger buildings can tap into a drive among religious leaders that can wreak a similar devastation upon a man's life.
Even pastors who don't claim to desire those things can create their own performance metrics for success which dull their obedience to Christ.
I knew a pastor whose congregation shrank from 200 to 20, whose leadership team over the past decade nearly all switched to another church down the street, and whose teaching received multiple calls for correction and improvement. Despite all this, would still point to the number of hours he prayed in a day and reference multiple books read (not the Bible) to bolster his legitimacy in leadership.
We can all create our own "performance metrics" to strive for, to beat ourselves with, or to bolster a feeling of power and superiority.
Jesus warned the religious leaders against performance exemplified by praying in public for the purpose of attention and, even worse, to prove righteousness:
“When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward.
In this case, the reward is an empty one: the praise of man. Yet it is this same reward which drives so many men onto a high-performance track.
God corrected and rebuked King David for pridefully measuring his own success.
"And the anger of Jehovah addeth to burn against Israel, and an adversary [Satan] moveth David about them, saying, `Go, number Israel and Judah.' " (2Samuel 24:1, YLT)
The false god of performance, in whatever arena of your life, asks for everything and gives you nothing.
The expense to reach the highest levels at work may take everything from you, and the rewards you get in return are illusions.
Yet, failure to hit those goals can quickly turn into punishment: being fired, ridiculed, or ignored.
What is the reversal of this losing deal?
The Good News.
Christ gives us everything in the Kingdom. Despite our repeated and inevitable failure to live up to the only performance metric that should matter -- righteousness before God -- he takes that punishment fully upon himself.
By our faith alone, Christ gives us all the rewards through sovereign grace. He exchanges the burden of performance for true rest by sacrificing His life.