Allow me to tell you a story about Son "A" and Son "B". Son A has a harsh and demanding father. It seemed he could never be pleased. One Saturday morning Son A’s father comes into his room and tells him to get up and mow the lawn. He says, “I want you to stop being lazy and go mow the yard. This time, do it straight because you messed it up last week and mowed it crooked. When you’re done, don’t forget to sweep off the sidewalk. And by the way, last week you left clippings on the driveway. I thought I told you to sweep off ALL the clippings?! After you’re finished, put the mower back in the garage and when I come home I’m going to inspect it to make sure you did it right. If it’s not done correctly, you’re grounded!”
So, Son A goes out to mow the yard. He's motivated by fear. He tries to do the best he can because deep inside he wants to prove to his father that he is capable. That he’s not the ‘mess up’ his father sees. He mows as carefully and as straight as he can. When he’s done he sweeps off all the clippings from the sidewalk and driveway. He puts the mower in the garage and returns to his room. A few minutes later he hears the garage door open. He knows it’s his father returning home. All of the sudden he grows very anxious and fearful that he might have forgotten something he was instructed to do. He hears his father’s footsteps coming down the hallway and he is desperately hoping that he’ll be pleased. That's Son A.
Son B on the other hand has a father who loves and approves of his son. His dad also expects the lawn to be mowed correctly, but he comes at it from a different perspective. One Saturday morning Son B’s father enters the boy’s room and says, “Son, I want you to get up and mow the yard today. You’re the “lawn-mowing-king” and I’m sure you’ll do a great job. Now don’t forget to mow the rows straight like I showed you. When you’re done, sweep off the sidewalk and the driveway. I know you’ll try your hardest and do your best. After you’re finished, put the mower back in the garage and when I come home I’ll check it out and if it’s ok, we’ll go to the movies.” So, Son B goes out to mow the yard. He tries to do it the best he can because he knows his father has full faith in him. He mows as carefully and as straight as he can. When he’s done he sweeps off all the clippings from the sidewalk and driveway. He puts the mower in the garage and returns to his room. A few minutes later he hears the garage door open. He knows it’s his father returning home. All of the sudden he has a very excited moment because he has worked hard and is certain he has done well. He hears his father’s footsteps coming down the hallway and filled with happy anticipation.
There is no difference in the quality of the mowing between Son A and Son B. Both worked as hard as they could and both did excellent work. But there is a huge difference between the motivations of these two boys. You see, Son A worked to earn the approval of his father. Son B worked because he had the approval of his father.
As a child of God, the things we do in life come from a completely different and healthy motivation. We don’t serve and lead to earn God’s approval, or to prove ourselves in some way to others. We serve and lead because we already possess God’s approval through Christ Jesus. The former is about being driven to prove something with a need for certain outcomes. The latter is simply about expressing our self through the things we do and trusting God with those outcomes. Our acceptance and approval by God does not depend upon how well we “do”. Rather, it depends upon what He has already done.
Actualizing this reality, we are now free! Free to work hard and do our very best as empowered by the Holy Spirit. Free to express our gifts and who we are in every strain of life. Free to risk knowing that success or failure does not define us. Free to follow with our full devotion the Christ who has purchased our right to know God as our loving Heavenly Father.
This is the transformation of our identity by faith in Jesus. Leader-- be free in Christ knowing that you are His, that He is yours, that you are His child and nothing else ultimately matters more than that! This will bring to you courage, perseverance, and a security to simply remain faithful to what God has called you to do thereby trusting Him with the outcomes. Work as one having the approval of your Father!