God’s delight in me (and you) is not performance based. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that, and I figured that you might need a reminder too.

This past winter our 8th grader tried a new sport—swimming. Turns out he’s pretty good at it. It also turns out that his team was really good. They finished the season 10-0.

It was really exciting to be a part of something successful, especially since the Jr. High swim team had never before gone undefeated. It was easy to get caught up in the excitement of success.

Every Tuesday and Thursday during the swim season, I got to work early so I could leave in time to get to the meets. As the season went on, the boys continued to improve. As they improved, their times continued to drop. And as their times dropped, their record improved until the season’s final meet.

The night before the final meet, my son told me two things. The first was that he and his teammates really wanted to go undefeated; I totally understood that desire. The second was that he personally wanted to swim the 50-yard freestyle under 30 seconds. His comments made me think of my own life.

Most of my life has been spent battling the notion that God’s acceptance of me is somehow connected to my performance. I honestly don’t know how I got this idea, but I battle this form of pride almost every day of my life.

I know that God’s love for me does not depend on my performance, but I still struggle to believe this truth in moments of struggle. I forget, at times, that God delights in me because I am His.

There’s a great deal of talk in the church these days about doing things with “excellence.” Don’t get me wrong. I think there are some people who can focus on excellence in ministry out of the right heart motivation. I’m just not one of them. I honestly wonder if we have traded in something eternal for something fleeting when we spotlight excellence rather than God’s fatherly delight. Are the two mutually exclusive?

I think God would tell us something similar to what I told Drew the night before the big meet. I told him I wanted to see his team win too. I told him that I also wanted him to swim the 50 under 30. But more than anything else, I wanted him to know that I loved him and that he would be loved if neither of those things happened.

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