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Why Do I Feel Like A Failure At The Christian Life?

Updated: Feb 27, 2022

My own personal Testimony weighs in heavy when I consider this question. It’s a question I have asked myself, and I have heard so many people ask over the years.

I grew up in church. I have been deeply involved since I was nineteen years of age. I have seen some "success" in ministering to others. There are ministries that I have helped to build and even given countless hours to seeing them succeed for the sake of Christ, others and my own image at times.

Allow me to be somewhat transparent. I am not a victim of anything. I have always enjoyed serving others and working in partnership with my God. However, sometimes one finds themselves misunderstanding what they thought they actually had a pretty good grasp on. This is where I found myself with God.

I have struggled with the questions of: “Am I doing good enough?”, “Why does the Christian life feel like such a struggle, I thought it was supposed to be joy-filled?”, and “I am sincere and working as hard as I know how to please God.” “Is this how Jesus really is?”.

The yoke that many bear “for God” is so heavy that they don’t realize it’s not the yoke that God meant for them to bear.

Performance based Christianity is not scriptural for one reason: It’s not based on Jesus. It is based on you and how good you are doing. That’s not grace. That’s law. We are not part of that system, and never were.

Peter said that the law was an unbearable yoke. To live a performance based religion that seeks to try to please God and gain acceptance from what we do is literally unbearable and unattainable.

Act 15:5, 10 KJV - "But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. ... Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?"

Many believers find themselves in a place of absolute failure and defeat because they are trying to meet up to a standard that is impossible to meet.

That's not The Gospel. That's not Jesus.


Easy and Light?

The Gospel is a message of spiritual rest (Hebrews 4:3). The finished work of Christ is just that, finished. Jesus offers us something in His grace that is healthy and freeing.

Mat 11:28-30 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

The context of Matthew 11:28-30 is that of knowing Jesus. Wow! Knowing Jesus. Not managing sin, and not trying to do more or be better. Knowing Jesus and His grace. The words he chose are "easy" and "light". Does that sound like your Christianity?

He also speaks of rest. Wait! I thought being a Christian was hard work? Not for spiritual reasons. Knowing the rest we have in Jesus will cause us to do physical work for Him but not at the price of our sanity, families, physical health and mental well-being.

Jesus is not trying to destroy you. He is trying to build you! (Colossians 2:7)

That being said, missing a day in an organized ministry has no effect on your standing with God. The amount of people that attend your church or ministry, or that you personally witness to have no effect on your standing with God.

The opposite is also true! Your standing with God doesn’t directly effect these things. If it did, then life would be perfect. We, as believers, have a perfect standing with God because of His Son. I remember thinking that if I had a low attendance day in my ministry it was because God was punishing me for not doing enough. That’s not true at all! God loves you, and it’s His ministry anyways. You mean so much more to him than that.


Performance vs. Grace

On this side of the cross you will find that many find the grace of God to be so unbelievable that they literally must add something to it. No, grace is not just for salvation. Grace is also for daily living. Grace is not a license to sin, but it does change your desire to sin. Our focus is not principles, but a person.


Stressful Christianity

Here are a few ways you can tell if your Christianity has gone from being centered on God's grace to being centered on your performance:

If you are striving for perfection in any area of your life through self-effort instead of trusting Jesus. Contrary to popular belief, Christianity is not a “self-help” religion and The Bible is not a "self-help" book. The truth is, we are complete in Jesus (Colossians 2:10). He has perfected us. Now, we trust Him to help us reflect that on the outside, just as it is a reality on the inside at the core of our being.

Heb 10:14 KJV - "For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."

When fear, guilt, and pressure dominate our view of God and our attempts at perfecting our behavior through our own fleshly effort. God does not motivate in this way. God is a very safe God. God doesn't bully, guilt-trip, scare us or pressure us into doing anything. He loves us and He put His measuring stick away a long time ago when His Son died. Rest in Jesus.

(Click the link below for a separate blog post on how God motivates His children.)

When we believe our level of commitment determines anything when it comes to God. If we were to be completely honest with ourselves, this idea is what gives birth to Pharisees. This is a major issue with which the "type A" personality will struggle. God is not impressed with us or our works outside of us showcasing His Son. Self-effort and fleshly motivation are not impressive to God. If you think they are, maybe we should have a chat with a man whose effort was greater than both yours and mine put together: Saul of Tarsus. I am going to warn you though, what you are about to read will more than likely go against a lot of what you have been taught about Christianity.

Phl 3:3-11 KJV - "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

You see, it's not about our level of commitment or our resume. It's about knowing and trusting Jesus! Take great hope in this fact! Let us lay down our pride and our "personal righteousness" and trust Christ to produce the fruit in us that only He can do through faith in Him.

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