Being an Overachiever Day 1: The Signs of an Overachiever
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:13, ESV)
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-42, ESV)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28, ESV)
This is a study that is near to my heart—I will be honest and admit that I am an overachiever in a lot of ways. There have been times when this paid off, especially in relation to school or work, but there have also been times when it wasn’t beneficial and caused me to have all my priorities out of whack. I hope that this study speaks to even just one overachiever out there and reminds them that their worth is found in Christ alone.
I think of the words “overachiever” and “perfectionist” as the same; that may not be totally correct, but for me they tie closely together. When I was younger, I honestly thought being a perfectionist was a good thing. In my mind, it was what helped me excel academically. Whenever I turned something in, I always wanted it to be absolutely perfect. You might remember the “joy” of group projects and being placed in a group with some weak links (letting my prideful thoughts sneak in), feeling like you had to do the entire project because no one else’s work would be good enough. When I look back on the amount of time and energy I devoted compared to the rest of the group, it is, honestly, comical.
As a perfectionist, I put excessive (and unnecessary) stress on myself because my expectations were too high. If I got less than an A on a test or an assignment, I was disappointed and felt like I was letting myself down. I wanted to be the best of the best and the smartest in every class, with the highest grades. That expectation set me up for some stressful times. That didn’t end in high school, but it was something I carried with me even as I entered the workforce. If you identify with any of these things, you probably struggle with being a perfectionist too.
Being an overachiever carries over into our relationships (and if you’re my friend you might think I’m truly a slacker instead of an overachiever). At times I have viewed my relationships as a task rather than as something to be nurtured and treasured. I wanted to be everyone’s closest friend and the favorite. But that’s not what relationships are about; they’re about bearing with one another and forgiving each other, no matter what (Colossians 3:13).
We can find examples of overachievers in the Bible—this isn’t a new concept by any means. I think of Martha in Luke 10, when Jesus was coming to visit her and Mary. If the very Son of God were coming to your house today, how would you treat His visit? I would prepare the house and want to serve Him—and that’s what Martha focused on. She asked (v.40), “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” The Lord responded gracefully, but reminded her that Mary was experiencing the good portion by just resting in His presence and hearing His teaching.
If you struggle with being an overachiever, focusing only on the preparations and planning side of things, we are in this together. As we work through this study together, I pray we can all remember that we can REST in Christ. Overachievers can often feel weary and burdened (Matthew 11:28), but we know that He offers us true and wonderful rest from the troubles of our hearts and of this world.