There is real danger in investing one’s sense of identity in an external locus. It could be financial well-being; it could be career advancement; or something else. If my sense of self is located in being successful (however that is defined), sooner or later I’m going to end up in trouble.
There are several problems. Firstly, the external locus is a moving target. As soon as I have achieved one goal another almost immediately presents itself. And so I am ever in pursuit of something to myself feel valued. Nothing one attains is ever quite enough.
Secondly, life happens. Almost inevitably there will be bumps in the road which will slow one’s progression. And the system will penalise one.
All of us have areas which are slightly more externally located. For me a useful question for discernment is where do I over-react when someone sees me as less than successful? Or even where do I over-react when I am seen as being mediocre rather than excellent?
Those are the areas where I need to pray for the grace of freedom.
The pursuit of excellence is not the problem, it is my investment in being seen as being excellent which is the issue.