Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Are you a perfectionist? Is your child?

"Are you a perfectionist?", my colleague asked.  My exact words escape me, but I answered in the affirmative.  "No one's perfect in a fallen world," he smiled.  This exchange occurred more than 8 years ago, and I don't think I'll soon forget it.

 Perhaps I remember it so clearly because the speaker shined so brightly for Christ. He radiated Christ's joy and peace.  He was a gifted leader, yet humble.  He did his best, but, unlike me, he wasn't a perfectionist.

 Or, maybe, it's because I've struggled with being a perfectionist as long as I can remember.  What about you?  Are you a perfectionist?  Is your child?

 Perfectionism is rooted in pride.  Those of us who struggle with perfectionism find ourselves continuously striving and often feeling inadequate, despite our best efforts. As a Christian, it's hard to admit that you are a perfectionist or prone to perfectionist thinking (if you don't like the label!), because we KNOW that my colleague's statement above is true.  Yet sometimes, if we're paying close attention, we may still find ourselves striving. 

 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. - Galatians 1:10, NIV

 For adults, spending too much time on things may be an indicator that our pride is at work.  If you, like me, find yourself spending too much time on any of the following: your work product; cleaning, organizing or decorating your home; shopping for the perfect outfit, gift, or even price; preparing the perfect meal, researching online for the perfect answer; responding to others; analyzing your responses; serving others; even identifying, encouraging and supporting your children's activities; preparing for a bible study or writing this blog- pause and ask yourself, who am I trying to please?  God?  Myself?  Or someone else?  If God, keep at it!  If not, pray about it.

 As a child, I remember being a poor sport.  Not in a mean way, but I was really hard on myself.  I was striving, even then.  I grew up in the 80s and I think our culture encouraged a competitive spirit; hard work; winning.  I like hard work and healthy competition, but I hope that we will raise our son to do the best he can, in all things, with a different goal in mind.

 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men...Colossians 3:23 ESV

 So, here are a few verses for the perfectionist in your life, even if it's not you!  If you don't know a perfectionist, they're great for anyone in need of a stamp of approval or a reminder of God's grace.  Let's impress these words on the hearts of our children, that we may all as Peter said, "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18, emphasis mine)

 Open up before God, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done:
He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon.
-Psalm 37:5-6, THE MESSAGE 

 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NASB

 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. - Philippians 3:12-16 NIV







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