Tearing Up the Scorecards

Sharon JaynesFriendship, God's love, Power of Words, Prayer 226 Comments

She was at it again. Mrs. Barnett was getting out the scorecards and tallying up the points.

I sat with an older woman as she began enumerating her family’s shortcomings. “Callie never comes to see me,” she began to complain about her granddaughter. “And she never calls me either. I saw her sitting on the other side of the church last week and she didn’t even come over and give me a hug.”

“Benjamin is just as bad,” she continued, talking about her grandson. “He never comes by unless he wants something.”

Throughout our time together, Mrs. Barnett mentioned several family members and friends who had disappointed her, who had not lived up to her expectations, and who had not given her the love she “deserved.”  The more I listened; the clearer a picture began to take shape in my mind.

I envisioned Mrs. Barnett with a big stack of scorecards. At the top of each card was a name: a grandchild, a child, a friend, a pastor, and yes, even one with my name printed across the top. If someone telephoned her, they got one point. If they stopped by for a visit, they got one point. If they gave her a hug without being asked, they got one point. If they told her she looked pretty, they got two points.

However, if they did not show the proper display of affection, they lost five points. If they did not come by for a visit within the expected amount of time, they lost five points. If they did not send her a card on the appropriate days, they lost five points. Birthday cards, Christmas gifts, phone calls, visits, etc, were all tallied on mental scorecards for later retrieval. She was very busy keeping track of all the plusses and minuses for each person.

I shook my head to clear away the movie being played in my mind and tried to pay attention to our conversation. After all, I didn’t want to get a bad mark on my scorecard that day.

Friend, let me tell you a great life lesson. As long as this woman keeps mental scorecards on the people in her life, she is going to be miserable. And if you or I keep scorecards for the people in our lives, we will be miserable as well.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians says, “Love is patient, love is kind…it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs,” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Love doesn’t keep a tally sheet of debits and credits or scorecards of plusses and minuses.

Self-centeredness says, “What has that person done for me lately?” Love says, “What can I do for that person today?”   

Self-centeredness makes mental lists of how others have disappointed them. Love makes mental lists of ways they can bless others.

Self-centeredness withholds affection and approval from those who don’t deserve it. Love gives affection unconditionally because none of us do deserve it.

Self-centeredness says, “Come here and give me a hug.” Love says, “Come here and let me hug you.” Can you tell the difference?  A ten-year-old child certainly can. He or she might not be able to verbalize the difference or even recognize it, but they certainly feel the difference in the pit of their stomachs and in the tenderness of their hearts.

With genuine love, there are no scorecards. I’m certainly glad God tore up mine long ago.

David wrote, “If you, O LORD, kept a record of sin, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3 NIV). Certainly not me! If God doesn’t keep a scorecard, making notes of the ways I have offended Him, disappointed Him, or not given Him the attention He deserves, then why do I think I have the right to keep scorecards on the people in my little world?

Scorecards. Do we keep them? Do we keep mental lists of what people do and don’t do to deserve our love? If so, we’ll never be content or at peace in our relationships. No one may see the scorecards sitting on our coffee tables, but they’ll know they are there. They will see them in our eyes, hear them in our tone, and sense them in our touch.

And there may be a few brave souls who refuse to play the game and decide to bow out of our life altogether.

Here is what I would like to suggest. Let’s tear up the scorecards. I’ll pray you through it.

“Dear Lord, I am no longer going to keep a scorecard for ____________.  Help me love like You love – unconditionally, with no strings attached. Help me to be thankful for the attention I do receive rather than resentful for what I don’t. I do not want to become a bitter old woman whom people avoid, but a grateful, graceful lady people enjoy. And Lord, whenever I begin to fall into the old habit of making mental notes of how someone did not live up to my expectations, I pray that You will convict me quickly and help me to replace the negative thoughts with a prayer of thanksgiving. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Did you do it? If so, click on “comment” and say, “I prayed that prayer today!” Then let’s celebrate each other’s courage!

Looking for your next Bible study? Check out Sharon’s book and Study Guide, The Power of A Woman’s Words: How the Words You Say Shape the Lives of Others. Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and God has entrusted them to you! They echo in hearts and minds long after they are spoken. How will we use this gift? Your words can change the course of someone’s day…even someone’s life.

Learn how to…

  • exchange careless words that hurt for intentional words that help others succeed
  • recognize words that tear down confidence and replace them with words that build others up
  • overcome the negativity that pushes people away and become a well of positivity that draws others in
  • tame your tongue by practicing practical principles that help you think before you speak
  • stop being disappointed in your lack of control by taking hold of the power of the Holy Spirit
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Comments 226

    1. I also prayed that prayer today. I have always tried to be a positive influence on people and try to lead by example . I have seen the results of my influence and it is lovely to see people blossom. It is amazing to see how much others can achieve with encouragement. It is with God’s grace that it happens. I find that others don’t always come to me, but I go to them and share my faith quietly without them sometimes knowing that I do. Thank you for your inspiration. Amen

    2. I too prayed this prayer today! One thing that was said that hit me hard was when we ask our kids or, in my case, grandkids, to give us a hug. Instead, to say come here so I can give you a hug! That really hit home for me!

      1. I prayed this prayer today. I’m thinking I might need quite a few reminders. Being thankful for the attention I do receive and the opportunities to bless them.

    3. I prayed that prayer (Everyone in my life) especially my spouse and family.

      Thank you for the reminder from I Corinthians and God’s perfect love toward each of His children and how we should extend it to all..

      Tearing up the score cards‼️

      1. I said the prayer today and prayed for an important person in my life to give up score cards too (the person does not have the technology to forward this to). Is this included in your book?

  1. I prayed that prayer today, thank you for your words of encouragement. I’m going to focus on doing more on my end to show my children and grandchildren just how much I love them.

  2. I prayed that prayer today. I kept a score card on someone and I truly regretted it. I tore up the score card and feel freedom from acknowledging it before God. I’m praying that I will not hold any more of them.

  3. I did pray this prayer!! Your article was an answer to a prayer I had yesterday!! God is so merciful and gracious.
    Glory to my God almighty!

  4. I prayed that prayer this morning; and I will pray it again and again…it takes a very long time for me to get out of negative habits! I’m so thankful God does not keep those records of wrongs; He is so good!

  5. I prayed this prayer today. Thank you for this powerful message. I have a significant person in my life who keeps a ‘scorecard’, and I know I’m on this list.
    Thank you for keeping these devotions going!

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  6. Thank you Sharon for this thoughtful devotional. My area of difficulty was selflessness. All my life I struggled with always thinking how this or that would affect me. It wasn’t until after my husband passed that the Lord moved me to give one of our immigrant families one of our vehicles. In praying through this with my pastor, it was what truly freed me from this bondage. I was so blessed to know that they had been praying for a vehicle. Since that time, nearly a year now, God has directed me to grow in this area of giving in many different ways. So your prayer above was changed slightly to reflect that & also that the Lord would continue to grow me in this area. It has brought so much joy. I’m very grateful.

  7. I prayed that prayer today, and, oh my, how I needed to do so! Thanks be to God for his great love that he lavishes on us and wants us to share with others.

  8. Thank you so much for this reminder. I am guilty so often of keeping score. I prayed that prayer today and am going to keep praying it!

  9. I prayed this prayer. I desire to not keep score with my family.
    I prayed this prayer specifically in regards to both of my daughters.
    However, I have learned a lot over the last 2 years after being gaslite, invalidated and set on fire by my spouse and church. To the point I was inpatient in a mental health facitity. My church, the church I reached out to when I was being admitted to the hospital and I asked them to reach out to my family. Did they? NO.
    I left after 30 years of membership and 18 years of employment..
    My spouse I have learned is an overt narcissist and while I don’t WANT to keep a scorecard, I have to stay on guard to observe what work is being done and is he going backwards in his recovery………….or are we going backwards again which means I’ll be getting a divorce.
    And I have also learned that the bitter lady here in your story, most probably has significant trauma and harms done to her throughout her life that has brought her here to this point.
    I won’t judge her either. If she is a real person, I’ll pray for her healing and recovery because I am right there with her.

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  10. I prayed the prayer and confess, I do this more often than I realized, until I read this devotion. 😔 I long to be an encourager. I’m trusting God to help me be one. 🙏🏻

  11. I prayed this prayer hoping that it will help me. I feel that i gave my all to them & now that am older they have left & forgot about me,even not like to be around me. Now I see it’s me all the complaining I do without realizing they don’t want to hear me complaining about anything or anyone. So I see in these days people don’t want to talk about too much of anything. Not even about God. They also dislike when you try to talk about the bible or bad behavior. I pray also that the lord helps me to pray for people as well because sometimes it’s not always us it’s them. I have issues with this please pray for me. Thanks

    1. Dear Ana, I am so sorry life isn’t going the way you hope. I can and do relate, but it only gets worse when I think on it. So I really worked hard at memorizing paragraphs of Scriptures (before my memory got bad)
      I was a study buddy with elementary students to help with spelling words, They read 7 x, write it 7x, say it out loud 7x while looking, then 7x not looking.
      They did great on tests. So I did it to memorize Scripture., and should not be so surprised but it does come to mind because I’ve also hidden it in my heart area also. I now try to offer up all of my life and my thoughts to Jesus day and night as an offering of praise and thanksgiving and ammazingly the negative and angry thoughts disappear. But i noticed if I don’t replace them with good positive thoughts about those people or events then satan always tries to attack. I have to stay alert and keep on praying.
      “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” — Galatians 5:16 (NIV)
      Here’s just a few verses I needed to start with: Phil 4:8 Gal 5:23-24; Jer 8:10; Ro 8:1-4; Proverbs 3:5-6
      (I recommend 7+8 also, but start small)
      Ephesians 6:10-17(really!!) I did it when i was in my 50’s now I’m 74..I remember it very well, but doing one that long now is difficult.. I’m sure there’s more but I wish I had all of the BIBLE in the brain. But God knows our heart and if we stay close to Him and His Word He does care and Loves us no matter what!!

  12. I prayed that prayer today. What a conviction to let loose of hurts in my heart and ask Jesus for forgiveness and help in the future. I know His strength and power is able to overcome EVERYTHING and I am so grateful for His mercy.

  13. What freeing experience to just tear up the “score cards”!!
    I am glad the Father doesn’t keep a tally on me.
    Sharon, your devotionals give hope to so many of us.

    I led a study on “The Power of a Woman’s Words”. It made an impact on my small group. In fact, another member plans on sharing it with some women she knows. “Bread on the Waters”

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  14. I prayed that prayer today! Thank you for this devotional, I truly want to be a graceful, kind, loving and joyful old lady!

  15. I prayed it!
    I am struggling with relationship with my adult daughter after she has had 2 kids. I find myself sad because she never visits or reaches out😒

  16. I prayed that prayer about not keeping a scorecard today. Thank you for the story and the prayer. It’s helped me to understand why I have been so miserable lately. I believe that with God’s power I will become more loving. What a blessing!

  17. I prayed that prayer and filled in the blank on multiple people. I was just keeping a scorecard yesterday of a disappointment in a friend. I think I’m going to write that prayer down and keep it close. Thank you Sharon!

  18. Amen 🙏 thank you for the great words of wisdom! None of need a scorecard and we should be blessed every day for the gifts God has given to all of us! Thank you I really needed this today! God bless you!! ❤️

  19. I prayed that prayer today! Thank you for this wonderful reminder to not “keep score” but to be thankful for all God has given me.

  20. I prayed the prayer. When I accepted Christ and read 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 it made the hugest impact on me! I kept a scorecard on my family. After the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I quit keeping a scorecard. Fast forward 15 years and now I am with someone that keeps a scorecard and I have begun to do it all again! I do not like to do this at all! Thank you for the reminder! I need to write this scripture down and keep it with me when I feel myself going to the scorecard.

  21. I so needed to see this and read and hear it. I find myself keeping score cards here lately and I have never considered myself a self centered person. I tried to be a loving mother and grandmother, helped raise my grandkids. I lost my husband last year in Feb. I seem to keep that scorecard since, they seem to come around less, call less or not at all and some are for always needing something, so I have started that scorecard and yes my life if is pretty miserable. Today I am tearing it up. I may be learning to navigate life alone now but I don’t have to be miserable. Thank you Sharon…. God Bless You…

  22. Amen this really hit home for me. God truly know where we are and what we need. Thankful and gratefull for God not treating us the way we treat others. Thanks

  23. So many real and perceived hurts, washed away.. will try to start each day fresh for giving myself and others. Thank you Lord for your forgiveness, and not keeping a scorecard.

  24. Thank you, this really gave me more understanding of what unconditional love means. The lines can get blurry. God spoke to me and I pray this prayer..

  25. I’ve seen this in others and there is a pattern. It’s a product of lonliness, low self esteem, and possibly depression. The lady mentioned here is crying out through her expectations. This, in turn, can push others away from her without her even realizing it. It’s a circle of invisible wounds, hurts, shame, and unworthiness. Bondage. Lies believed. She is one of us, God’s child. An anonymous gift card in the mail along with a kind note, a single flower brought to her at church, or a balloon tied to her mailbox. Spread love to this who feel unloved. It may be the key to unlock the joy in her heart that’s been long forgotten. I pray for your friend and countless others that are out there waiting for someone to call or to stop by.🙏 May she also find the desire to make the first step to reach out instead of expecting others to do so first. That’s a hard step for many that struggle with issues that we may not understand.

    1. My mother-in-law is just like this woman in every way. And she is lonely … Only because she’s driven everyone away. She is blunt and demeaning, critical and negative. And while she is 89, she was that way when I met her 40 years ago. If possible, even worse. Her own sister says she never had a filter. So her grandkids do not visit, her own kids avoid her, and she believes the ones that still do things for her are only doing it out of promises made to their father on his death bed. I know she has a tender heart in there somewhere, but she’s alienated so many people and now my husband and I are getting divorced. I’m the only one who ever stood up to her to tell her how hurtful her comments are and suggest things she could say instead.

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        It is hard to watch someone driving others away. But it does give us a picture of what we don’t want to look like.

  26. The Holy Spirit is at work… the counter top grill was used on Saturday— “He used it; he needs to clean it!” Still sitting there, dirty, this AM staring at me and taunting me- “I don’t care how long it’s there— he used it; he needs to clean it!”

    And then…. I read this… thank you! Bless you! Excuse me, I will be cleaning the grill.

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  27. What a feeling of release upon praying this! Thank you for this truth that tells me to humble myself & let God take over.

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  28. I did pray this prayer today.

    Please pray for my granddaughter who is tormented with rejection and lies of the devil.

    Thank you so much

    1. I prayed that prayer today. No more score cards. Jesus help me to love like You by the power of Your Holy Spirit.

  29. Yes, I did pray that prayer. I know I fall short in so many ways but I strive to do better each day. Thank you for your wonderful messages.

  30. I made that my prayer today. Having high expectations, yes that it is me. God convicted me today and I just want to say thank you Jesus for your love and mercy! Thank you, for reminding me that it is not all about me, it is about you!

  31. God spoke directly to me through your devotion. I prayed that prayer over my three daughters who I have challenging relationships with. I want to love like God loves.

  32. I prayed the prayer today. Thank you Sharon for the honest devotional. Reflection of the expectations we have in our hearts towards others really helps to keep perspective and adopt attitude of love!

  33. I prayed the prayer today. Thank you Sharon for the honest devotional. Reflection of the expectations we have in our hearts towards others really helps to keep perspective and adopt an attitude of love!

  34. I so needed this today! I prayed that prayer wholeheartedly……..Thank you for your daily devotionals.

  35. Oh boy did I pray this prayer. You have no idea how much I needed this this morning. God spoke directly to me (and my daughter) through you today, in the timeliest of timely way. Wow. God is so good.

  36. I prayed that prayer today. I didn’t realize I was keeping score until I read this. I don’t want to keep score anymore and I want to be one who loves others well without seeking validation or credit… just do from a heart of love.

  37. I prayed the prayer 🙏 I do want to let go of the lists I carry around and give people space and grace. Thank you.

  38. I prayed this prayer today. I have been guilty of doing this myself, so thankyou for bringing it to my attention. I have also been on the receiving end of being on the scorecard as well.

  39. I prayed this prayer, which was an answer to my yesterday’s circumstance and prayer!! Thank you. God’s timing is perfect!

  40. Ditto!!! to all of the positive comments. Yes, I often pray that my thoughts and words that result from those thoughts will be what God wants from me. Thank you for your message. As usual it struck a nerve in me to continue looking at myself.

  41. I prayed that prayer today with a heavy heart! Praying that I will tear up the score cards and remember how blessed I am!!

  42. I prayed the prayer this morning and I’m so glad MY Heavenly Father doesn’t keep score on my shortcoming so I won’t either. THANK YOU GOD🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽

  43. I prayed this prayer with many names in the blank….God gave me this at just the right time….but that is who He is! Thank you so much for sharing what I needed.

  44. What a wonderful prayer for us today! Along those same lines is something that I have learned to do which brings me peace, which revolves around the word “expectations.” I keep my expectations low for the challenging people around me, so I am pleasantly surprised when they exceed my expectations in their words or actions. After all, I am a sinner, too, and don’t always live up to others’ expectations of me. On the other hand, my expectations of my Lord are great. He has and will continue to love, provide for and protect me. He is always there to listen to me and desires a relationship with me, so that is the relationship that I focus on primarily.

  45. What timely and powerful reminder for my heart! I prayed and surrendered the score cards I’ d had for my family. 🙏

  46. I prayed that today. I tend to have “conversations “ in my head with people I feel like need changing some how! Lol.
    I’m not gonna keep score, anymore!
    Thank you 🥹🥹🥹

  47. I prayed that prayer! Thank you Sharon!! Once again you put me back on track to be the women I desire to be in Christ!!!

  48. I prayed this prayer today. It couldn’t have come at a more timely moment in my life and maybe that is God’s plan. With gods help, I will try to have no more scorecards.

  49. The Lord spoke to me clearly after reading this.

    I absolutely loved hearing Him and obeyed joyfully.

    Thank you for sharing Sharon.

  50. I prayed this prayer today. I am struggling with my relationship with my adult son, my only child. I saw myself in that woman. I don’t want to do that anymore. I pray God will help me with my son.

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      Hi Caryn. I see that you are concerned that your response didn’t show up right away. Unfortunately, because of spam, we have to approve all comments before they go up. That means that comments don’t go up right away, but might take a few hours to show up.

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  51. Yes, I prayed the prayer!!!

    Thank you Sharon, for praying me through. Until reading this article, I believed I had a right to “keep score” of someone’s error, but I’ve since learned how not to be moved by my emotions, but to be moved by my faith! Thank you for your labor of love and for reading this.

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  52. I prayed that prayer as I have been trying to reconcile with my son for nearly 2 years. He is upset that I chose to build next door to his older brother. God is working in my life to show me I must detach with love and respect his boundaries. I am sad at this situation, but know the Lord is working on softening his heart. Thanks for the words about not keeping score and to accept and love others without any expectations. I will not let this situation embitter me, bt trust the Lord to bring about reconciliation in His time.

  53. I will think of this prayer when I start to nag and complain. Because it reminds me of those who stood there throwing insults while Jesus was suffering and abused. Jesus said, “Father forgive them they know not what they do!”
    Father forgive me all my sins. I am so unworthy but I do thank you Jesus for taking my punishment. Please allow Your Holy Spirit to invade our minds to think things that are worth memorizing. Gal 5:22-23″But the Fruit of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control;
    Ph 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
    God bless you Sharon Jaynes and give you long life of serving through writing.

  54. Wow! God is awesome! I most definitely prayed that prayer today! A couple nights ago I couldn’t sleep so I got out my journaling bible and opened it up, it went to Psalms right to the very beginning and so I started reading and Psalm 1:2-3 the Spirit highlighted to me. So as I went on Pinterest for inspiration for my Bible art journaling there was one that caught my attention from another passage and decided to save it to my photos to come back to as I have done many times before. Only this one kept sticking out to me in the days to come as I would go to my photos and fast forward to today I read this devotion and as the Lord has been walking me through forgiving especially my husband the verse came up that was the very one used on the image I saved just a few days ago! So this devotion was so powerful of an image that also went along with that and if I could share an image here I would share my Bible journal entry! Thank you for this much needed prayer and devotion! God bless! 🥰

  55. Thank you Sharon, for your devotion. That is a good prayer to pray to not keep “score” with our loved ones but be the one who loves unconditionally.

  56. I prayed this prayer. I’m not too bad at this, but I can get my feelings hurt sometimes. This was so well written and a great lesson! Thank you!
    I hope you are doing great!

  57. Juselda
    July 26, 2023, AT 11:42 AM

    I don’t know if I had a scorecard I accept people as they come, but I prayed that prayer today.

  58. Thank you, Sharon. I needed this today thank you again to keep me in check.
    “I prayed that prayer today!” and it took courage!

  59. In Linda Dillow’s book ‘Calm My Anxious Heart,’ she tells the story of a Godly woman who, when asked, “Don’t you remember what she did?” Would respond, “I specifically remember forgetting that.” It’s a great reminder that we must be intentional when things don’t come naturally. Thank you for this reminder to keep no records of wrongs…even if it’s as simple as cleaning that grill…again…and then whistling too!

  60. I prayed that prayer today, and I also pray that I will not fall back into the habit of keeping score when trying moments present themselves.

  61. I prayed.
    What you wrote about telling a 10yo “come give me a hug” really resonated with me.
    I have a 10yo boy that I say that to all the time, in a playful way. But what a difference a small change to the wording will make. And I will try to remember that moving forward. Thank you!

  62. I prayed that much needed prayer. And pray this His love for me/us is a constant reminder to me of how to love others.

  63. I really want to share this lovingly with a friend. She is never wrong and really needs prayer for her to realize how much Jesus loves her and what he has done for her. She says she is a believer but has a poor me attitude. I hope I can encourage her to seek the Lord.
    Thank you for sharing the wonderful insights God has given you. Our Ladies Bible Study is using your book Take Hold of the Faith you Long For as a study guide.
    God Bless you.

  64. I prayed that prayer today after reading the comments and examples about keeping score cards. I can truly see that “I am a sad old lady”, but I am not miserable. I accept my many faults/flaws being pointed out to me. I just want affection in return when I give a hug or at least a hello 👋🏽 when we are in each other’s presence. Be honest, and say to me how you feel. I ask my family if I’ve done or said something wrong, but instead of being honest, they say “no” . I love showing my affection. I thank God for the love of Jesus when I feel slighted by my family. So, as you broke it down to me, I am self centered ! I am truly working to do it God’s way going forward. Thank you and I thank my daughter for sharing this. I Love you 😘!

  65. God’s timing is perfect. I needed to hear this message today as I had used a “scorecard” yesterday. I was very convicted after reading this and prayed.

  66. Catching this devotion months after you wrote it. I prayed this prayer today and will continue to pray for an awareness of the words I use and from what perspective. I know my 2 year old grandson already picks up on things so quickly, like a sponge. I also want to be a model for those around me who similarly keep scorecards. Praying the Holy Spirit will empower them to notice it in their lives.
    Thank you and God bless.

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