You’re just trying too hard.

Check out these kicks. Apparently, Adidas wanted to make some shoes that are so hot you’ll want them chained to your feet.

Edgy, right? Creative, right? They come with just a few small flashes of convicted criminals and slavery. Yup, that’s the image we want projected on our youth.

Don’t worry. Adidas pulled them out of production before they hit the market. Click on the image to read the story.

This little marketing mishap made me think. Sometimes we just try too hard.

We start with good intentions, but somehow lose sight of the bigger picture. We strive to be the first, the best, the coolest, the most relevant. We want our work to stand apart from the rest, but ambition can blind. Having lost touch with reality, we fail to notice how completely ridiculous we’ve become.

I have a love/hate reaction to intellectuals for this very reason.

The love part admires them. It wants to be part of their elitist club. I picture us in a posh, mahogany library, a stylish scarf draped around my neck as I down my fourth fair-trade, organic coffee. We’d make profound observations and eloquently pontificate on matters of huge importance. Surrounded by books and lofty discussion, I’d feel right at home.

Right at home, but not myself.

And this is where the hate part surfaces.

I can fit in with that crowd for only so long. Eventually my natural dork shines through and I get evicted from my comfy leather chair. As I leave the room I look around and wonder how authentic each of them really is. Are they like this all the time? Then, blinders removed, I listen to some of their arguments and realize the pomp and circumstance is all too much. They’re trying too hard to be better than me. Better than everyone. And usually they’re just talking and not actually doing anything about it.

In a moment one goes from being admired to mocked. Or shackled to a bad idea.

So how do we try hard but not too hard? I recently wrote a piece along this vein for Writer Interrupted. You can read the whole article HERE. The main emphasis, however, is to remember who you are and why you do what you do. This applies to everything — parenting, ministry, work, character. Your identity and your purpose determine your success. If you don’t have an accurate understanding of who you are (or to Whom you belong), you won’t know what you can or can’t do. If you’re vision (your plan or intention) is undefined or vague, you’ll be supremely successful at nothing.

Let’s make this more tangible.

I had a pretty severe run in with my six-year-old son last week. Not a fan of consequences, my little man stomped up the stairs screaming, “You do NOT make me HAPPY!!” Now, I could forget who I am — the mom possessing rightful authority to revoke Wii privileges and send him to his room. Or I could misunderstand my purpose and believe that my ultimate goal as his mother IS to make him happy. Both of those scenarios — forgetting who I am or why I do what I do — would provide fast, negative results. Chances are I would never reach my true goal. In fact, I would likely get the opposite of what I want, which is to raise a healthy, respectful, responsible, God-fearing son.

Now think about ministry. Margaret Feinberg posted this on facebook yesterday:

“Your calling never changes. But your ministry could change every five minutes. Don’t sacrifice your calling for the sake of the ministry.”

This is a big one. Forgetting why we do ministry is to miss the entire point! We become ridiculous in our frantic running of programs. The numbers don’t matter; the results don’t matter. People matter.

It’s the same in writing, at work, at school …

Remember who you are.

Remember why you do what you do.

Your Turn: How do you keep your identity and purpose from getting distorted?

Talk to me!

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