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Why Pushing Too Hard Will Cost You

pushAlthough in a lot of ways I’m a laid-back kind of person, I tend to push pretty hard.

Doesn’t take long before my toothbrush has bristles going every which way instead of straight up and down because I push them hard against my teeth. Around our house, I do the dishes most of the time. The scrubber brush hates to see me coming because I will grind it into those dirty dishes to get the gunk out. We realistically need a new one probably once a month. Even in the workout plan I’ve been using, there’s an option for advanced and I try my best to keep up with it because I want to push.

I don’t know how not to. I just push hard.

It’s true in the things I mentioned above, but it’s true in my mental, emotional, and spiritual life as well. My family bears some of the brunt of my pushing, but the most vigorous and hardest pushing is within myself.

That means I can be very hard on myself when I fall short or mess up (one of the reasons I reworked this post last week). I feel like I’ve let God down, let others down, let myself down with the things I’ve done or haven’t done.

Whether it’s accurate or not, I think I should be able to do more than I can many times and feel guilty and/or anxious when I don’t measure up. It’s a fairly complicated set of emotions really, and they can cause problems when I don’t pay attention to them. I get increasingly fixated on me and lose my focus on God.

Sad thing is, when things get harder, my tendency is to push even harder.

Psalm 57 has been a constant companion to me over recent months. I’ve read it probably a hundred times and it speaks to me every single time. David is in a cave, hiding and running for his life. He has a promise to be king. He is anointed to be king, but he refuses to take a shortcut–to push too hard and take matters into his own hands.

I admire that in this state of trial and pain, he stays fixed on God his help.

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge
Until destruction passes by.
I will cry to God Most High,
To God who accomplishes all things for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches him who tramples upon me. Selah.
God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth. –Psalm 57:1-3

David isn’t taking refuge in a cave. He’s taking refuge in the shadow of His wings. He’s crying out to God for the fulfillment of His promises, trusting that He will accomplish perfectly what David would surely botch.

Notice those words again, I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.

The Young’s Literal Translation says, “to God who is perfecting for me.” I can push for myself to be better, faster, more fruitful, fulfilled, more productive, etc.; but then I’ll miss the God who is perfecting and accomplishing it all for me.

It’s not about sitting back and being lazy. The demands, the situations, the promises I’m waiting on–they aren’t my concern. He is my focus, my Rock, and my Deliverer. I’m a participant in the process, but He is the Lord of the process.

I have to recognize that pushing too hard may lead me to push right on past His best.

He will do the things that I can’t do in my own striving. He will deal with the things in my life that seek to trample and destroy me. Pushing harder won’t do it. Being harder on myself for falling short won’t do it. It’s only found in worshipping and knowing our great God.

How about you? Do you tend to push yourself or others hard? Do you trust God to fulfill what He’s promised or do you want to try to make it happen yourself?


  1. I had to laugh as I read how you wear your toothbrush down for that is so my husband and he does the dishes too and yes the scrubbing brush has to be replaced more then usual. Now he does not normally think he is pushing because he is such a mellow man…easy going…full of mercy and grace. Because I have lived with him for almost 50 years I have seen how quiet pushing looks. On the other hand I am the loud mouth, so you know exactly when I am pushing and often have to be told to back off. Watch out when both of us are working in on the same project…things do get done. Usually we push then back off then come back at it from a different angle then back off , try again when finally we tire out and need to rest THEN God say, finally, now I can work. Some would say call it giving up when we stop pushing…some…but not God…it’s exactly where He wants us. He knows how hard it is for pushers to rest…to ease back on the throttle. Through the years I have been glad I am married to a man who knows how to work, who will push through the pain and get things done and love it when he finally has done all he can do and lets God take over. We both have learned some hard lessons on pushing and to be honest our pushers are pretty wore out. I think David was wore out in body too…the battle does that to us. We love working with young couple full of zeal to serve the Lord, knowing their zeal will get in the way often. It takes zeal to start…without it we would never start. When the zeal runs out knowledge will take over and it will take them far. And then even knowledge will not hold up during the trials of life. So our zeal is gone, knowledge spent so we wait as David did in the cave for God to move in His time, His way. Great perspective brother on “pushing.”

    • Great perspective here, Betty. Also great window into your married life--sounds a lot like mine. 🙂 I like what you’re saying about God not minding our pushing, He designed us that way, but then we come to the end and we get to watch Him work. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Because I tend to be a people-pleaser I am much harder on myself than on others. I want their approval so I will hold back (until I can’t hold back any more). But, on myself, I have expectations and can push myself hard to get where I want to go. I do this cycling. I’m 61 and yet I still think I can ride like I did when I was 40. Sometimes my expectations are unrealistic-both of myself and others. I need to allow God to make the way. Thanks jason.
    Bill (cycelguy) recently posted..NamesMy Profile

    • I’m sure that’s part of my pushing too. I’m not as bad as I used to be on the people-pleasing thing, but old habits are hard to break! I think in some ways (like your health/exercise), it’s good to push to a degree, not to hurt ourselves but to stay strong. Good food for thought, Bill. Thanks.

  3. In some ways I’m a pusher and in others a slacker. Actually it’s more like a vicious cycle. I push myself so hard until I collapse and then I turn into Mr. Slacker… until something happens and I go back to the Push mentality.

    Pretty self-destructive all-in-all.

    I think it is one of the reasons that passages about rest and/or placing our yoke upon Him stand out to me so.
    Dusty recently posted..Make Things RightMy Profile

    • I definitely know what you’re talking about. I crash from time to time. Pushing myself is default and then it’s like my body/mind rebels and I have to stop. Learning to do better, but it’s not easy to change! Thank you, Dusty.

  4. This is so good and a wonderful reminder to rest in him. Allow him to protect and provide not just physically but emotionally too. This is very encouraging. Thank you
    Sharon O recently posted..A Pocket BibleMy Profile

    • I have to remind myself all the time, Sharon. Thank you.

  5. You’re preaching to the choir, Jason. I’ve been called “intense” fairly often in life and never in a good way. I tend to push, rip, smash, tear, wear, or maim, to get my way in life… Man has it worn me out. Some of us catch on slower than others. I can’t change who I am and the way God made me, but I can use it according to His will. Not always easy, but I’m better than I was by His grace. Excellent and needed post.

    • Amen. There is room for using (or allowing God to use) the way we were made. I just don’t want to get in the way of what He wants to do. I know I can’t stop what God wants to do, but I can certainly delay it. No thank you! Good thoughts, Floyd. Thank you.

  6. What you calling pushing, I have called forcing for many years. When I force things in any area of life (relationships, career, etc.), I usually end up in undesirable situations. I then have to spend my time getting back on track rather than on making progress. Over the years, I have learned to trust God to bring opportunities to me and to let Him fulfill His promises rather than try to make them happen myself. I could be a lot farther along in my calling today had I not forced (pushed) so much in my life. But, I am on track now, I think, and God does wonders in making up for lost time.
    Kari Scare recently posted..Thinking on WordsMy Profile

    • That is my hope as well. I see in scripture that people went the wrong way for so much time and God then brought them back to where they needed to be as they looked to Him. Learning to discern is tough business! There is our own desires, the world’s persuasion, the enemy’s accusation, our loved ones’ concerns, and whatever else. Quieting it all to hear what He has to say and to watch He wants to do--that’s my heart. I struggle, but I just want HIm. Thank you, Kari.

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