It was one of those conversations that feels like it comes along once in a lifetime.
I was online with four other women who all run businesses from home or work in a corporate office. We were talking about work and raising kids and the conversation veered toward the same topic that it always does when women are gathered together: guilt.
But this chat took a different turn than the normal mommy-guilt bend I usually hear. Instead of us talking about feeling guilty because we had to work, we all felt guilty that we loved to work.
“I love my job. I’m way better at my job than I am being a room mom.”
“I wish that I loved sitting at soccer games. I love my kids, but I need something outside of my family.”
“I love hanging out with my kids. I also love crushing it in my job and talking to grownups.”
My people. Super achievers.
It was an honest, raw and life-giving talk. These were people who love their families, but also love their work and were unashamed to say so. They didn’t apologize for utilizing their giftings, and their passion for their work fueled my own passion.
I adore my kids.
I’m wild about my husband.
But. It’s not enough.
(There. I said it.)
It just isn’t.
Recently, I’ve been reading a book that talks exactly to this. In ‘Holy Hustle: Embracing a Work-Hard, Rest-Well Life’ author, Crystal Stein talks about how the desires to love well, rest well and work hard are not contradictory desires. I love that.
It’s not enough because God did not design it to be enough.
The drive I have to work is not placed in me just to make me successful. It’s there to glorify God. That fact raises my work to a whole new level and allows me to fully be, unapologetically me. How crazy is it that fully being me and living out my potential glorifies God?!
There is something about a super achiever that says, “Yep – I’m not just working to pay the bills. I’m working for a higher purpose.” You can see it in the results of their work and in their attitude as they work. This kind of work is the work that changes the world. You can always spot a super achiever at work.
I’ve seen it happen over and over again: That insurance agent on the phone is a super achiever. She is going above and beyond. After a few minutes, the conversation goes to what I do for a living and she finds out I’m a Christian and drops just enough hints to let me know that she is as well. But you know, I already suspected as much.
Here is my definition of “Super Achiever”:
Someone who, no matter their circumstances, is always working to make, create, do or be something.
If I were stranded on a desert island, I would write a book in the sand, create a line of clothing out of palm fronds, and would line up a bunch of coconuts for a leadership conference. Those coconuts would never be the same.
It’s how God has made me – and location, circumstances, time or money will not change that.
It’s time to stop apologizing for how God has made us and not only celebrate, but recalibrate our own , and the world’s expectations of what we should be doing and how we should be behaving? Do you think there’s no way you are one? You might be surprised…
The qualities of a super achiever:
1. You work hard at being great at what you do.
I was in line at a writer’s conference behind Patsy Clairmont.
The Patsy Clairmont.
I was thrilled – and confused.
“I didn’t see your name on the faculty list!” I gushed. I would have remembered that.
“I’m not here as a teacher. I’m just attending.” Patsy said.
I loved that. And I was taken back by it. If someone who has written as many books as she has is still learning, should’t I be as well?
Ever since then, I’ve attended one writer’s conference and one speaker’s conference every year, not to teach, but to learn.
2. You work for a high authority.
Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Friend, that “whatever” is key. I don’t know what your “whatever” is, but it’s time we started to take that more seriously. Because any work, anything we do to serve others, lead others or love others, when done with excellence, will honor God.
I refuse to feel bad about working hard. Whatever I’m doing, I want to do it with my full heart. I love the movie Chariots of Fire, and quote it often when I’m talking about work. One of the lines that doesn’t get as much attention in that movie, but resonates more and more with me each day, is when Eric’s father is letting him know that it’s okay to run in the Olympics (as opposed to his sister who sees running as frivolous and wants him to skip the Olympics and hurry up and get on the mission field.) Dad reminds his son, “Eric, you can glorify God by peeling a potato if you peel it to perfection.”
Anything I do can be done to the glory of God if I am working hard and getting better at it. Why would I apologize for bringing glory to God by being faithful to what he has placed within me?
3. You love people, but you have to be purposeful in making time for them.
As a super achiever I could work on my blog, create a new plan for world domination, and cook a month’s worth of freezer meals while filming it on Facebook Live and spend all day doing it and loving it. It would only be as I crawl into bed that I realize I’ve had no human contact all day.It’s not because I don’t love my humans – I’m wild about them. But it’s so easy to go into achieving mode that I forget that I need (and they need) a little love along the way.
This is why I have to be purposeful in carving out time that is all focused on people I love. Not checking my phone, not sneaking in work on my computer. But if I get an idea for a blog post for decluttering your kitchen while I’m making Asian stir-fry with my husband, you better believe I’m writing it down. Why? Because that is living out my passion, both for my family and my work.
4. You have to be careful that the glory is going to the right place.
As a super achiever, it can be tempting to believe that you are just built stronger, faster and better than those around you. That would be a lie, friend and a dangerous one at that.
God has equipped each of us so uniquely and differently. We must absolutely recognize that the credit goes to God, who has gifted us, equipped us, and assigned us for the work. When I really think about this, my attitude to my work shifts and my goal is to glorify God, not pursue success for myself. This also gives me freedom to leave results up to God, I am freed from the pressure to produce.
5. You make the world a better place.
One of the best things I’ve learned as a super achiever? I must refuse to lessen myself so that others can feel more important. I won’t apologize for how God has made me. Instead – I will work to raise everyone up. I will help everyone around me see that all the work that we do, inside the home, outside of it, for giant corporations, or for our home business of one, can be worthy and valuable and honor God. When we embrace the way God has made us and leverage our gifts, we lead others to do the same. Contrary to what some might say, we don’t need less super achievers – we need more. Imagine what the world would be like if there were more people leveraging their gifts to honor God.
The “mommy wars”, “woman wars”, any “wars” that don’t build up other women who have made other choices? End with me.
Home full-time with the kids, working full-time, or somewhere in between? Every family’s choice of how they will work can be prayed over, decided and lived out with holiness.
Why the world needs super achievers
I’m grateful that there is a book like Holy Hustle that recognizes, and honors, the way that God has designed Crystal, and me, and hundreds of other women in my life to be.
Because the world needs women like us. The ones who get up early, push projects forward, love hard, and get up and do it all again the next day.
The world needs women who, while moving those things forward, are also bringing others forward to accomplish great things.
The world needs women who are great at what they do, and know where that greatness comes from.
Want a chance to win the Holy Hustle “Everyday I’m Hustling” On-The-Go Basket?
Just tell us below one way that you were designed for the hustle – or how you know you aren’t! (God makes all kinds of people – we love that!) And you will be entered to win our gift pack or one of five copies of Holy Hustle. Drawing ends June 19th.
Thank you to Harvest House Publishers for sponsoring this blog post. All opinions represented here are my own. Please see my disclosure policy for any questions.
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.