Monday, December 10, 2007

Addicted to achievements?

Probably one of the most defining Strengths or characteristics I have is that of "Achiever." Achiever work long and hard hours in order to accomplish goals, and they tend to define progress and themselves in terms of accomplishments.

My achiever gene translates into a lot of areas of my life, resulting in:
--Three undergrad degrees, two masters (M.A. and M.Div.), and working on a D.Min.
--Several written works (Story of Redemption, New Community, Using Your Spiritual Gifts
--Scheduling of missional Church Seminars
--Setting up many evangelistic Bible studies and multiple outreachs to community
--Hours spent in sermon preparation
--Many books read each year
--Joining of civic organizations to meet people in the community
--Spending time with Christians to develop friendships and new leaders
--Time each night spent teaching our two girls about God, Christ, and the Bible, songs, how to pray

Most people look at all of this, and it makes them tired. In truth, I at times wear myself out. I have so many things that I want to do and accomplish, and I try to do them all at a high level. If we only had 48 hour days . . . :) The past couple of days, I have been very tired. But, like most Achievers, after resting up, I want to get working again. I already have a whole new list of goals . . .

It is easy for Achievers to get addicted to achievements. And I plead guilty. To you fellow achievers out there, let's be honest--our achiever nature is part of how God built us, and it won't go away. But we also need to take some vacation time here and there, and not let the Achiever part totally override other aspects of our lives. Reggie McNeal, my teacher at Fuller, said that we need to apply our Achiever strength to our families as well, and mark off "accomplishments" with them. Becki and I need to take more vacations together. I'm counting on all of you to remind me of this!


mojohn said...

Could we just call the achiever a "workaholic"? :-)

James said...


There is some truth to achievers potentially being workaholics.

Workaholic, of course, has a negative connotation, and it centers around a paying job. And achiever can fall into this.

However, I see Achiever as much broader than this. Achievers want to accomplish things in all areas of their lives--education, family, hobbies, relationships.

Working hard is not a bad thing. Paul talked about how he outworked all of his critics, and how he worked long and hard in labor for the Lord. He had many goals to accomplish in proclaiming the gospel, in establishing and building up churches, and in reaching the lost.

The Achiever only becomes a problem if it is directed at materialistic goals or if it causes one to ignore other important aspects of one's family and Spiritual life.

This is a good question to raise--even if only in tongue and cheek--and one that I have had to wrestle with. What makes working hard in ministry different from being a workaholic? I see the differences in the goals of each.

The same dangers, exist, however, for self-dependence and pride. Achievers often struggle with these things.