One of the great blessings in my life has been the opportunity to sit with others, listen well, and care for them in their struggles. I am no expert counselor or impressive life coach, but God has faithfully opened doors to walk with others through a coaching relationship. I believe we all need mentors and coaches in our lives and I have had a few who have lovingly guided me along life’s winding road. 

In an age consumed by busyness and productivity, Jesus’ simple but profound question cuts through the noise: “What do you want?” Even with packed schedules and endless activity, we gain much-needed clarity when we stop and examine our deepest desire(s). Our 30s may be the season when those core “wants” and needs come into sharpest focus, more so than our drifting 20s or preoccupied 50s. Asking for what we genuinely seek reveals our motivations and shows us what distracts us.

The path to genuine success and satisfaction has a few adversaries disguised as the main goal. For example, fame, applause, and wealth often promise more than they can deliver. These trinkets never fully quench the ego’s thirst. They lead to restless chasing that resembles purpose but only leaves us empty again.If we peek honestly inside, we all carry internal expectations that have burdened us since childhood or adolescence. The “should’s” from our upbringing or culture:

  • What “should” someone like me do?
  • What does a “good” person in my shoes accomplish?
  • I’m not ______ enough, so I must _____ to compensate.
  • Why do others get to do what I want to be doing? 

Our endless activity often conceals a more profound need to be fully loved and accepted. Through our work and achievements, we hope to earn appreciation and affection from others. Even pursuing more possessions and comforts can signal an underlying search for love.

This reveals why bitterness takes root so quickly when our efforts fail to reap in ways we desire or want. If the love and affirmation we want prove elusive despite our repeated attempts, resentment can build up. The praise or promotion we worked tirelessly for never materialized. Our sacrifices did not pay off. We find ourselves empty-handed after the frenzied chase up the ladder. Or the things we were chasing aren’t satisfying…. or change. 

But as followers of Jesus, we freely receive what we can never gain through fruitless chasing. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith […] not by works” (Ephesians 2:8-9). When we rest in God’s unconditional loving embrace through Christ, we no longer have to strive for approval endlessly. We are already loved perfectly by our beloved Son. He is fully capable of directing our lives and rewarding our work. 

May His perfect love set us free from unrealistic expectations to live boldly in the works He has prepared for us.