5 Healthy Reasons to Stop Chasing Perfection Now
- Jennifer Heeren Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2020 6 Oct
Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. – Ecclesiastes 11:4
I get stuck when I think that I must do something perfectly and I end up procrastinating or even worse giving up altogether. Something doesn’t have to be perfect to help someone. Flawed yet sincere efforts placed out there in the world speak much louder than a perfect project that stays locked up in my head.
1. Perfect Is Impossible
Perfect is impossible because we’re all human and no human effort is 100% perfect. Focusing on my perceived results and aiming for perfection will paralyze me into procrastination every time. Worrying about end results is a waste of time.
But...doing my best, being real, and putting myself out there is how to get people’s attention. Transparency and vulnerability make people take notice because that is real. The image of perfection is fake.
Are you more interested in how you look or how you’re perceived than how you’re actually living?
The parable of the talents or servants in Matthew 25:14-30 is about using our resources well. Resources are anything that we’ve been given—which is everything. We came into this world with nothing, and we’ll leave with nothing. But how we live in between counts. In this parable, the first and second servants were given differing amounts of silver. Both of them put their resources to work and were able to give the master more than they received. The silver is a symbol of resources, but resources include more than money. They also include time and energy...and even our compassion and kindness.
We can help people in this life by using our resources well. Silver also represents redemption in the Bible and redemption is all about people. So, spending our resources on helping people is the most important thing.
The third servant dug a hole and hid the master’s money. He was afraid that his efforts would be worthless, so he did nothing. And doing nothing amounted to the master thinking he was wicked and lazy because he didn’t have any evidence to the contrary. After all, the servant did nothing.
He was focused on all the negative things that could happen if he failed. He focused on, what if this doesn’t work out, instead of focusing on, what if it does.
What if there had been a fourth servant in the parable? What if the fourth servant took his resources and made a lot of effort to increase them but because of unforeseen circumstances didn’t end up with any silver to give back? But he did try. He did make sincere efforts. I don’t think the master would have been as angry with that person. And I really don’t feel that God, the ultimate Master, would either.
God loves our faith-filled efforts more than our results. And He can take our meager efforts and failed attempts and use them in a way that we cannot even fathom. As John Newton said, “We serve a gracious Master who knows how to overrule even our mistakes to His glory and our own advantage.” John Newton learned a lot about God’s Amazing Grace in his lifetime.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Benjamin Davies
2. God’s Redemption Covers My Failures
I’m never going to be perfect or do everything perfectly, but I can put myself out there. I can try. I can do whatever I’m called to do in a way that helps people and draws them to see Jesus. Redemption over our failures and sin has already taken place and I want more and more people to see that redemption for themselves.
I can’t have perfect deeds but I can know the One who is perfect. Psalm 18:30-32 says that God’s way is perfect. All of His promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.
I can also have perfect peace as I trust in Him while I’m doing out-of-my-comfort-zone good works. He will keep me in perfect peace as I trust in Him and fix my thoughts on Him (Isaiah 26:3). He will use my less than perfect efforts to do a lot of good.
It’s much better to step forward and try to help than to stay in the shadows and definitely not help at all.
3. Practice Is Worth More Than Perfection
What causes mastery in this life? A lot of hours of practice. A lot of hard work. And even a lot of mess-ups and failures. But I learn. I grow. I get better each time.
“Practice” is a better word for my vocabulary than “Perfection.” Practice is an active verb. Perfection is a pipe dream.
Practice helps me to do some things well. I can work with excellence. But I must have the humility to risk failure and criticism. I must take steps forward anyway. Something doesn’t have to be done perfectly to help someone. I can work willingly at whatever I do, as though I am working for the Lord rather than for people (Colossians 3:23). Quality improves the more I step out, practice, and do things over and over again.
Chasing perfection keeps me stuck in the feeling that I’m not good enough. Instead of chasing paralyzing perfection, I can chase the loving Lord that wants to see me walking out my faith. He wants to exclaim to me, “Well done, my good and faithful steward.” He is not a harsh tyrant. He is a loving Lord. He wants me to have a fruitful life that includes helping other people in my own special way.
Mistakes are part of the process. Testimonies about mistakes are real—and help people to realize that they can do something, too. When I’m not perfect and do something anyway, it gives people permission to try something, too. Your testimony isn’t perfect and it shouldn’t be. It’s real, raw, and vulnerable but that’s where the power is. That’s when Jesus shines through my works.
If everyone waited for perfection before they did anything, there wouldn’t be any books, music, art, businesses, marriages, etc., etc. Nothing worthwhile would exist because nothing is perfect.
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4. Helping People Is the Goal
Striving for perfection is based on insecurity. I want it to be perfect because I’m scared of what people will think when it’s not. But fear of man is a snare—a trap meant to paralyze me. I shouldn’t internalize either the negative criticism or the positive feedback but I can learn from both of them.
If I’m going to think about others, I should focus on helping them instead of fearing them. It’s about loving my neighbors and everyone other than me is my neighbor. It’s about what I can do to help. It doesn’t have to be perfect to help.
Done and out there is more important than perfect. Then I can keep putting more good things out there. I can keep going and keep growing.
5. What Is Important Is Faith Expressing Itself in Love
Faith works are active. This is the opposite of holding back and waiting. The sinful nature craves procrastination and laziness but the Spirit longs for me to take steps and act. Action is the antidote to paralysis. And when I act out of love for God and people there are things that stand out more than my mistakes and failures. The fruit of the Spirit is much stronger and will speak louder than my mess-ups.
The enemy will always try to convince us that our efforts aren’t good enough. If I listen, I will never finish anything. Sometimes I never even start. But God is waiting for me to try. He will use both my successes and failures for His good. My self-doubts berate me all the time, but God never condemns me.
A perfection mindset is fixed on results whereas God wants me to simply be faithful. Then I can watch Him bring the results. Sometimes these results are what I expect, but other times they are more than I can ask or imagine.
God loves us and wants us to do good things because of His unfailing love. We love other people because God first loved us. We can’t do any good works without God’s love and resources helping us. It’s humbling, but we can do nothing worthwhile without God’s help. But with God’s help, we can do mighty things.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. – Mother Teresa
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/greg801
Jennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk. Her debut novel is available on Amazon. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at her website and/or on Facebook.