Tony Schwartz, co-author of “Donald Trump: The Art of the Deal,” wrote an article for the New York Times entitled, “The Enduring Hunt for Personal Value,” a portion of which is quoted below:
Why does Michael Phelps keep returning to a brutal training regimen in the pool, long after he’s achieved every imaginable accolade as a swimmer? Why do men who have earned hundreds of millions of dollars, even billions, work relentlessly to earn even more, long after it could possibly make any material difference in their lives? Why does a substantial group of politicians with no remote chance of being elected president feel compelled to traverse the country campaigning 18 hours a day for more than two years?
As little as these varied people have in common, their shared core hunger is for value. Once our basic needs are met, we human beings arguably crave value above all else.
We each want desperately to matter, to feel a sense of worthiness.
But why is this an enduring, almost desperate hunt? Because we all fear we don’t matter or have real value or worth. And we need to do something about that so we find places, people and things that seem to give that to us.
For some, this struggle is an obvious part of daily life. For others, it is much more subtle and may only be experienced in moments of solitude when there is no distracting activity. If we are brutally honest with ourselves about why our jobs are so important to us; or why we must excel at sports (or even board games!); or why we find ourselves repeatedly in unhealthy relationships; or why we must be the “best” parents; or many other things – we will probably discover we are busy justifying ourselves, justifying our existence. Our internal mantra is, “Look, I matter. I have significance. I have worth. And I need you to notice and let me know you notice.”
So, is there an answer for the enduring hunt, an end to the struggle for significance? Yes.
To stop looking to people and things for justification, we need the Gospel.
- It is the only form of worthiness and value that is not earned or achieved but received
- It is not based on your record, but Jesus’ record
- Unlike any other form of personal identity, the Gospel is the end of the hunt, the end of the struggle to matter, to have value
“But Pastor Jim,“ you may be thinking, “I hear what you are saying but I am still driven by my work, by unhealthy relationships, by poor choices because I need to feel superior, I need to be needed.”
The apostle Paul would say, “You believe the Gospel in your head but it has not penetrated your heart.” Pastor Tim Keller illustrates this by saying, “The coin is in the machine but it just hasn’t dropped yet.” But when it does, your life will change in ways you never imagined possible.
Consider reading Galatians 2:11-21. Take special note of verse 20. If you have placed your faith in Jesus, you’re in Jesus – He’s your life, your identity, your value. And the life you still must live here reveals that Christ is your life. The Gospel changes your identity, your attitude, your view of life, even he very motivations of your heart. The Gospel changes everything
The enduring hunt is over.