I’ll let you in on a little secret about me. And you probably will relate to this secret in some way or another. For years of schooling I found my worth in my work and my level of production, and that place is a really dangerous place to be in! It is challenging because a lot of us are told our whole lives that we need to work hard to receive good grades to get into a good college, and then we need to work hard to receive good grades in college in order to find a good job. We hear the narrative that in order to be successful in this life, we need to have good grades and a high level of productivity. And part of me tells me that the narrative will continue for a lot of us while we live in this broken world.
But that narrative does not need to be true, because, well, it is not! Let me say that again, THAT NARRATIVE IS NOT TRUE. While I strongly believe that as Christians we are called to a high level of God-honoring excellent work, that does not mean slaving away and sacrificing who we are and letting that little number on a transcript tell us what we are worth. You are called to higher things than that!
When I was in high school, I felt pretty broken and hurt by a lot of different people. I understand that feeling of questioning if I would ever live up to the expectations of other people, if I would ever be pretty enough, if I would ever be smart enough, and if I would ever even be enough for people. I let others define my value, yet I often fell short. And so in return, I often turned to grades, assignments, and my productivity level in order to tell me that I was enough. Due to the fact that I knew I could turn in impressive assignments and work harder on projects than other people, I found a lot of my worth in proving myself in my grades. And this just led to digging myself deeper and deeper down a hole of thinking that I needed worldly things to define my worth. But whenever we place our value into something that is not the Lord, we will always fall short and we will always be hurt. And that is exactly what I found.
At the end of our lives, what do we want the Lord to see in us? Do I want the Lord to see me as someone with a 4.0? Who sacrificed everything to receive an A? Who found all of her worth in her grades? Or do I want God to see me as Anna, a girl who took what she learned and served with it? A girl who loved her friends and family and pursued a relationship with Jesus together? A girl who knew what she was worth and found her identity in the fact that God had chosen her? I think the answer is pretty clear.
You guys, like I said before, I think we as Christians are called to a higher level of excellence in all things, and that includes our schoolwork. Part of how we honor God proves to be in our work ethic and always providing our best. Yet I do not think we are actually providing our best if we are finding who we are in our work and letting that define us. Because as much as you will not like it, college is challenging and there will be assignments that you do not understand or tests that you did not fully prepare for. And it can be so challenging to not feel as though you have failed as a person when you have failed an assignment. BUT THAT IS NOT TRUE. You have been called a child of the one true king, you have been adopted, chosen, been called a prince or princess, been fearfully and wonderfully made, created with a purpose and plan, saved with grace, washed clean, and you have the power that raised Christ from the dead residing inside of you. And you are going to let a grade tell you who you are? No. Let the God who created the entire universe and sees you with inherent value tell you who you are.
Your overall goal in college is to be a steward of what God has given you, and part of that is an education! Your education in college helps you see what God has for you in the future and prepares you for that. And Biola is so committed to guiding you along how to not find your worth in your grades, but rather find your worth in who God has told you that you are, and how to use your education to honor Him and expand His kingdom. This is no easy task. In fact this is still an everyday thing that I need to remind myself of where I find my value in. Yet Biola has shown me more of who I am as an individual and the value that I have out of any other stage in my life, and this did not come from an assurance of grades, but a community that constantly lives out what it means to be children of God.
I believe that God honors hard work, and so by all means keep working hard on your work and setting goals for yourself. But you have nothing to prove. There is no level of work that you can do to prove that you are enough, that work was already done on the cross 2000 years ago. So be encouraged by that. Work hard for the Lord, not for your worth. And know that your worth has already been won.