One thing I’ve been working on recently has been telling the difference between excellence and perfection. To call myself an
anal-retentive, relentless over achieving perfectionist would be putting it lightly. That quality can be really great sometimes. It pushes a person to strive always to do their best. The problem comes when ‘their best’ isn’t good enough for the standard they hold themselves to.
Everyone has heard “nobody is perfect” and “God doesn’t expect perfection because He is perfection” and all the other versions of those phrases. Parents say it, teachers say it, coaches say it, priests and pastors all over the world say it. For some, however, especially those of us that tend to think we know better than everyone….(ahem) actually listening to those reminders is a challenge. What do you mean ‘nobody is perfect’??? What good are we if we aren’t striving for perfection? We tend to mistake acceptance of our imperfections as being content or complacent. Some of us punish ourselves as motivation to try harder, longer, faster, better, stronger.
Ah perfection. It’s a double-edged and ugly sword. Attempting to achieve perfection is almost a sin in itself as it says “I can be on the same plane as God”. On the other hand, Satan can sneak in and grab that insecure feeling of imperfection and twist it into guilt or self doubt, displeasure and even fear of who God made us. (also a sin…)
In many areas of my life and the hats I wear I struggle with perfectionism. I want to be the perfect engineer, the perfect fitness instructor, the perfect youth minister, the perfect vocalist, the perfect friend, the perfect partner, have the perfect body, the perfect diet, the perfect running pace, be the perfect female role model for the kids in my life, ….it’s a really heavy load I burden myself with. Satan tends to step in and capitalize on this opportunity too. With every expectation of perfection is an opportunity for me to fail. Another wonderful aspect of life I struggle with. I loathe failure. And when you expect perfection…guess what life hands you?
Excellence on the other hand…God expects that from us all of the time. Excellence is the most amazing gift we can give God and the people in our lives. It’s the ability to give the tasks you take on the best you have to offer. No more, no less. Striving for and achieving excellence in all the little and big things we accomplish is the most rewarding feeling on the planet.
From smiling to the surly co-worker in the elevator, to eating healthy, to standing up in front of a whole congregation and singing filled with the spirit.
A perfectionist sees everything they didn’t manage to accomplish. All the little things they failed to do right (by their standards).
A person striving for excellence has the ability to feel the peace and satisfaction in working to BE excellent and accepting the beautiful imperfections that God graced us with.
God doesn’t make us perfect. He graces us with opportunities to be humbled. To need to ask for help. To need to work on things. To be able to accept the imperfections of others. To stand in front of a bunch of people, full of acceptance of our own imperfections, and allow them to see His grace working through us. One awesome, often eye roll worthy, stumbling block at a time.
So the next time I get out of bed and set my sights on my goals, I’m going to continue to remind myself to strive for excellence. To see the beauty in my imperfections. To keep an open mind about the lessons I can learn from them.
I encourage you all to do the same. It is quite the freeing experience!!
God doesn’t call the perfect to walk this walk with Him.