The Rat Race is a Journey to Fool’s Gold

man holding book next to leather briefcase

For the last ten years, I defined my strongest ability as my willingness to hustle. I answered emails immediately, even around the clock when I could. I returned phone calls from customers within minutes. And I always pursued “inbox zero,” the holy-grail of Outlook and email productivity.

It didn’t stop with work. In addition to reading close to 40 books per year, there were magazines like HBR, more podcasts than I can mention, and always an inkling for more inputs.

Whatever would make me “better.”

Perhaps most telling, and easily most embarrassing in retrospect, I created a self-bio that stated what I was most excited about was whatever came NEXT!

But, no “NEXT” was ever enough.

And while I haven’t missed any big family events, or milestones for the kids, my bodily presence did not always mean that I was fully present.

I now realize that I have become an adrenaline junkie to a certain extent. One who, at least metaphorically speaking, realizes they are in need of rehabilitation. For continuing to take hits of adrenaline, continuing to hustle past God’s limits for me, will only end in regret.

Of course, a voice always whispers that hustling won’t cost anything visible to others. Maybe it will just be something internal…

But aren’t concessions like these exactly what put me in this condition in the first place?

Only the fool thinks internal costs are free! Not only do these costs carry external interest, their payments are spread to those who love me most.

What I have come to realize is this:

The rat race is a journey to fool’s gold.

Of course, we call it something more acceptable. Maybe “climbing the ladder,” or “career development.”

There are many nice phrases.

But we all know what it is.

The simple reality is that no “next thing” will ever be enough.

Whether you are a Christ follower or not, I imagine you’ve felt this, too. The truth is, we were all created with a void in our hearts that can only be filled with Christ. This void is what makes us seek Him. We were never meant to find our identity outside of Him. We were never meant to do life in our own strength. In fact, Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that God’s “power is made perfect in weakness.”

The question is, when we face our weaknesses and insecurities, do we look for the “next thing” to provide a sense of fulfillment or a quick fix, or do we turn to the Creator? Do we pray when we need wisdom or competence or strength, or expect another podcast to deliver? Do we allow Him to remind us who we are, or rely on our own accomplishments to bring fulfillment?

I have found again and again that the rat race is a journey to fool’s gold.