Being a Christian does not make you immune to the struggle of the ambitious professional and high achiever. I include myself in this category of crazy, restless, highly driven people. We tend to over-invest in our outer game and under-invest in our inner game.

Our outer game – education, career, material success – brings us respect, prosperity, and comfort, and it’s undeniably attractive. Sometimes it’s addictive. We dedicate our most productive hours most days to learning and working on our outer game, and we get rewarded for it.

Our inner game of relationships, faith, wisdom, courage, generosity, and gratitude can easily take a back seat as they take longer to develop and are not as readily rewarded.

This brings us extrinsic abundance and intrinsic scarcity. On the outside, we faithfully serve, love and give. On the inside we fall into the trap of “I’ll be happy when (insert extrinsic goal)” – I get my promotion, hit a sales number, arrive at a salary goal, achieve a new milestone.

Which of course, never works. If you’re not happy with a coffee, you will not be happy with a mansion.

Cutting edge studies show that success does not bring happiness, but happiness does bring more success on all levels. People in what I call the “exponential state” of joy, fulfillment and wholeness are healthier, wealthier and live longer. The Bible has beautiful word for this: “shalom.”

If you’re a Christian, you know this word well and yet being in a state of shalom can elude us even in the church. We can be doing great in our outer game, but because we have not developed our inner game, we suffer in pain.

photo of man sitting on a cave
Photo by M Venter on

This painful imbalance is that actually brought me into the faith in my early 20s. Despite professional success as a singer, my relational autopilot was broken. Entertaining millions, I faced the pain of broken relationships rooted in three generations of broken homes. A number one hit, playing sports arenas and being on covers of magazines could not keep me from becoming clinically depressed. 

Ultimately my low inner game affected my outer game. I had to face my weaknesses, pursue the renewal of my mind and replace broken patterns one by one. It worked. I’ve been happily married for 24 years and never forgotten just how dangerous neglecting my inner game is.

This experience fueled 25 years of studying human flourishing, mentoring athletes, artists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders.

If you’re a professional and your inner game is trailing your outer game, you’re probably feeling the fruit of it in the form of emotional pain: trouble sleeping, stress, shame, anger, burnout to name a few. Those are warning signs that should not be ignored.

I’ll say something we don’t say enough. Your local ministry person is not always able to help or relate to what you’re going through. Sometimes you need a coach to help you align your goals with your ability to achieve them in a healthy way.

Discovering the principle of a highly specialized coach changed my life because of the outsized speed and impact of change that happens when you are well paired with a great coach. So I both coach and get coached.

My Xponential Life framework is based on ancient wisdom and modern science and geared specifically to high-achievers. Feel free to reach out if you feel it may be a good fit. Mention “DToday2023” to receive a partial ICOC scholarship if you become a client.

I highly recommend watching my interview with a Xponential Life alumnus, disciple and entrepreneur Brandon Knicely. It’s an inspiring story and fantastic case study on just how much a driven professional can do both in the marketplace and the Kingdom.

Christian Ray Flores is an evangelist, entrepreneur and coach. You can find his free resources here.