Gold Stars and Performing for God

Today’s guest post is from Malisa Price, a long time reader and member of the Modern Reject community. Malisa has a heart to serve God and also has a blog of her own. I can easily relate to her post today and hope that it leaves you as encouraged and comforted, as it did me.

When Nicole wrote about not liking women’s ministry (gatherings, retreats, teas, etc.), I was doing a happy dance and celebratory hand-waving. I’m sure I looked like a nutty person, but I was so relieved that she felt like me.

I recently, went to a women’s retreat. I have been on retreats before, but this was the first one I have gone to that was paid for out of my own pocket. This time felt different because I had a time and financial investment.

I don’t know what actually possessed me to sign up for the weekend getaway. I like being home with my hubster, eating the meals I make, and sleeping in my nice bed. But, I think it was the quiet voice of Jesus calling me, “Come Malisa, experience more of what I have for you. I want to spend time with you and get to know you better.” Shockingly, I signed up.

In doing so, I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I allowed myself to be a follower rather than the leader. I allowed myself to be out of control and go with the flow.

Jesus was calling me. He spoke through the messages the various teachers presented, in conversations with friends, and orchestrating connections I could have never organized.

Saturday afternoon we took a walk to a scenic overlook.

I was taking pictures for my blog. I was irritated that I didn’t have cell phone coverage. Heaven forbid, I was only able to check my Twitter account for 2 minutes in 48 hours!

Standing on the edge of a breathtaking vista, ladies threw rocks over the edge representing things they were leaving behind and never picking back up. Some said control, others said hurtful relationships, and others said fear.

I wanted to throw a rock over the edge, but I couldn’t think of anything. I was outraged that here I stood a good girl, raised in a Christian home, and there was not a thing I could throw over.

The more ladies threw their rocks over the cliff’s edge and proclaimed things they were getting freed from, the more enraged I got. I walked over to Bev (the leader of the retreat) and asked, “May I have a word with you? Actually, I’m going to need a few words with you.” She happily walked with me to a spot away from the group.

(Bev and Me after our conversation)

I told her I was angry. I didn’t believe that God was trustworthy. I didn’t believe that a rock I threw over the edge would matter. Whatever “thing” I might throw over, I’d find again.

I’ve prayed that my excruciating neck and shoulder pain would go away, but it hasn’t. I’ve prayed that I would stop saying hurtful things. I’ve prayed that I wouldn’t give dirty, disgusted looks to my husband. I’ve asked and asked and asked.

I said I couldn’t and didn’t know how to accept the love of God.

I admitted to Bev I didn’t need God, because I was a good girl. I wasn’t bad enough to need a Savior.

I stated I was too busy working for Him. I’m too busy getting “gold stars” for my performance.

Bev asked me what I would do if I wasn’t trying to get gold stars?

My answer brought tears to her eyes. As tears streamed down my face, I answered, “I don’t know what I’d do.”

She said, “Oh, Sweetie! You don’t have to do anything. All you need to do is accept the love of Jesus. You just get to know him. That’s all.”

She then asked me what my name means. I said “honey bee.” She laughed! Bev’s name means “beaver.” Beavers and bees are busy creatures.

Bev asked me if she could throw a rock for me. I said yes. She grabbed a rock and held my hand. She said the rock was to end gold stars. She threw it. It was the beginning of something different.

Writing this story brought me additional freedom. A freedom I didn’t even realize when she threw the rock.

Jesus calls me daughter. He says I’m a sheep. And little sheep are the most high maintenance livestock in the world. If it weren’t for shepherds, they would die. (I learned that on my retreat weekend too, thanks Nicky!)

Photo Credit: ekieraM on Flickr

Even though my given name means honey bee and I envision little worker bees with their non-stop buzzing, I’m a sheep in the Kingdom. And as a sheep, my job is simple. I eat, drink, sleep, and follow.

That’s a pretty light yoke if you ask me.

So, here I am now. On the other side of a weekend away. With a new understanding. An understanding that Jesus came for good girls too. Jesus came for me.

I am encouraged to know that I don’t have to keep performing for Him. When the enemy comes to my mind and says, “Dance, pilgrim!” I don’t have to.

You see, the Shepherd calls me and says, “Come here, dear daughter, I want to spend time with you, Malisa. I want to get to know you.”

No more performing for this sheep. I’ll follow the shepherd and get to know the voice of Jesus.

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. – John 10:2-5

What are your thoughts on being a sheep? Can you relate to the need to perform to try and earn the approval of a God who already accepts and loves you?


Malisa blogs about cooking, crafting, and opinions about the world around her. She loves sharing the latest recipe she’s modified and easy DIY crafts. Malisa enjoys sharing her experiences as a married woman and a follower of Christ in the 21st Century.

Website: Twitter: @malisaprice

18 thoughts on “Gold Stars and Performing for God”

  1. Fantastic, so real Yes I can totally relate. For some time I have been trying to become more of a sheep and less of a performer, with God’s help I’ll keep going. Thanks, Mich x

    1. Yes, keep on going Michelle! I think sheep are much more calm than performance animals (think circus animals). I love that God refers to us as sheep and wants to take care of us.

  2. Oh Malisa, I cannot even begin to tell you how much your story reminds me of my own. Thank you for writing that…it’s brought freedom to my heart and a deeper understanding of God’s love. Friend, I owe you a huge hug next time we get together :)

  3. You are definitely not alone in this one… it’s something I’ve realized over the past year on my own life, too. It can be very hard to stop “performing” for God, but the freedom when we can finally just sit at His feet and enjoy Him is radical. I’m not successful all the time, but getting better. Thank you so much for your vulnerability and for sharing. I think it rings true for more women than we might think!

    1. Laura, thank you for the comment! You said it so well.

      P.S. I was just talking about you today. My sister-in-law is expecting and she is maybe going to use a doula! Love to you!

    2. Laura, I’m excited that there is continued hope & freedom along the “resting” road. Knowing someone else is getting whole & healed helps me. Thank you!

  4. Wow.. this article is such a downer for us males. I mean…. it was very insightful and spiritually edifying. But I felt estrogen rushing inside me.. (Beavers and honey Bee’s???) Now I shall go play a couple of rounds of halo and Battlefield 3 and replay last nights heat game…

  5. This is hard to accept. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t perform either, just being a sheep seems so… unproductive. Honestly I want to earn my keep, you know?
    Great post – prayers welcome!

    1. Oh Omonse! I can’t express how many times I’ve thought the same thing. One word: Jesus. He already did all the performing. What a gift. I will be praying for you as you walk and learn to be a sheep. (I’ll be the one the shepherd has to keep rescuing!)

  6. Hey Malisa, I stumbled upon your blog recently and really enjoy it. Your story here really resignated with me. It seems to me like so many of my friends and myself and myself have been in this position in some way within the last year. We have all felt like we were working for the glory of the Lord and getting frustrated or feeling let down. I finally understood when I realized that even though I was mainly raised christian and was always a good girl I didn’t fully understand and ACCEPT the gospel. I thought I deserved things to go well because all I did. I am in an amazing bible study and I feel like I am reading the bible through new eyes. Works are not for us to get gold stars or make our lives “easier” it comes down to the heart of the matter. Do we see our absolute need for Jesus and do we do the “works” because we love him and you want to do things for the one you love? This is a very simple explanation of a transformation in myself. I don’t have to be the “good christian girl” I just need to love Jesus!

    1. Wow, Katherine, your story and transformation are beautiful! That’s exactly what Jesus does- he miraculously transforms our hearts & minds. And I completely agree that you do things for those you love. It’s the heart and attitude we need to examine.

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