• on May 15, 2017

Crowns of Men: The Crown of Achievements

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

It has always been a rather large temptation for me to define my worth by my achievements.  For whatever reason, there has been this need to prove myself as “good enough” or fully capable to handle myself in any circumstance.  While I may have tried to define my self worth as a person by my achievements, every time I earned one, the pleasure may have lasted for a while, but ultimately the crown of achievement was not able to sustain a deep internal need.  For many of us, we do everything in our power to wear the crown of achievements on our head because it makes us feel special, important, and loved, but ultimately, that deeper sense of meaning and purpose cannot come from our actions.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

– 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV  

Doing great things, like the other crowns we try and wear in life, is not inherently wrong.  We are not called to do pitiful small things as those who follow Christ.  In fact, it was Christ who said that we would do greater things than Him (cf. John 14:12).  Issues arise when a person defines themselves based on their achievements.  Every accomplishment and action that people do, however good and stellar it may be, will ultimately fade.  For the crown of achievements to have any shimmer, it must be polished by the hand of God. This is why we lay it down before the throne of God.

Striving To Be Good Enough

Years went by where I tried to do everything in my power to achieve status and meaning.  If I could not accomplish great things, make good grades in school, beat my time in sports, then who was I?  For a long period of time I sought to define myself by what I did.  While I was able to do great things the one thing that never was answered deep within my soul was the question of what my value was.  Any achievement I met was followed, almost too quickly, by the lull of wondering what to do now.  There was always another achievement to do and always somewhere further to go.  My striving was never good enough.

You are good enough even without the crown.Earning your value will always leave an emptiness inside of a person.  Whatever you do or accomplish will almost assuredly be met with the feeling of dissatisfaction or the leaning too heavily on an event of the past.  In either sense, you are stuck, never moving forward.  You have have the crown of achievement but it grows tarnished and heavy.  For all of our striving, for all of our achievements, there will be a never ending need to do better and earn more.  The crown of achievement is the only crown polished endlessly by the tears of struggling through one lone question, “Am I good enough?” The message of God, though, remains unchanging. You are good enough, even without the crown.

Grace is Sufficient

The grace of God is sufficient to answer the question of our worth.  There is nothing we can do to earn to merit the love that God extends to mankind and to us specifically.  We do not have to achieve a certain level of holiness in order to be eligible for the sacrifice that Christ offers. Simply put, you cannot do “good enough” to earn the love of God.  Jesus loved you at your lowest achievement.God is not withholding, but the love of God is already offered.  At your lowest, Jesus came to the world as one of us.  At your most sinful, Christ died for you.  At your most lost and confused, God shone a bright shining light to guide you home to Him.

The more we try to earn the love and adoration of God, the further from the Gospel we stray.  The solution is simple; lay the crown at the foot of the throne of God.  It is only by the grace of God that we have meaning, value, and purpose.  Furthermore, only by grace are we able to wear our crown of achievement.  That achievement is Christ’s victory on the cross, and it is given to us as a sign of belonging to Him.  We are made whole in Him and through Him, we have our true and ultimate purpose. Before the eyes of God, we are all the same and all are offered the gift of love, purpose, and meaning by the grace of God.

Talk It Out

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 and 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

  1. What is your greatest achievement?  What are you most proud of having done?
  2. Describe the greatest achievement of Jesus Christ?
  3. What role does weakness play in our struggle for defining our self worth by what we are able to accomplish? How does the power of God reveal itself in the weakness of man?
  4. What thoughts do you have knowing that you are not more loved or less loved because of what you are able to accomplish?

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