“I guess I’m just a perfectionist”
Have you ever said that? I’ve said it. See I think I enjoyed seeing myself in that light. There’s something that being a part of a vibrant ministry has taught me and that’s to reach and work toward excellence. I wouldn’t say it’s just a ministry thing actually. I think it’s actually part of my upbringing.
I mean early on I just had modeled to me to work hard. Work toward excellence. That’s a great goal. That’s a fantastic goal.
Here’s the thing though. That doesn’t have much to do with my perfectionism. I want it to. In my mind I connect my perfectionism with this drive to be excellent. In reality though… they’re not as close as I think.
They may not be as close as you think.
What if you aren’t a perfectionist?
What if I’m not a perfectionist?
See there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be excellent! By all means, strive to be excellent. But your perfectionism is hiding under a disguise of “excellence”. It has nothing to do with excellence. In fact…it’s the opposite.
See my perfectionism isn’t perfectionism. It’s protect-tionism. Which, granted, isn’t a real word. At least according to the squiggly red line under it right now as I type. But it’s nonetheless true.
The more I work through the mechanics the more I see that it’s not excellence at all that drives my protect-tionism. It’s fear that sits behind the wheel of this dangerous vehicle.
See if I get things perfect. Absolutely. Positively. 100%. Perfect. You can’t critique. You can’t attack, dismantle, destroy, or hurt it. It’s perfect. If it’s perfect and there’s a problem the problem must be you. Or my circumstances. Or the timing. Not the product. Not me.
The truth is if you struggle with “perfectionism”. Maybe it’s not what you think. Ask yourself.
Are your standards too high? Or. Are your walls too high?
I convince myself that in reality I’m striving for absolute perfection. The truth is fear cowers under walls of protection. Just a little more work. Just a little more time. Just a little more…
Fill in the blank.
When is enough…enough?
The real paradigm shift comes when you admit that excellent will never be perfect. Perfection is unreachable. I’m always going to fall beneath that standard. Sometimes I’m going to fall beneath the excellence standard. Sometimes I’m even going to fall beneath the average standard.
That’s okay. I love Hebrews 10. The first part of the chapter talks about the old sacrifices the priests used to do, every year, over and over, each time to make up and cover up all the inadequacies, failures, and sin from the last year. Then the writer gets to verse 14.
“By that one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”
You don’t have to protect yourself from being critiqued, damaged, or broken. Christ himself made a sacrifice that “has made perfect forever”. So let your perfectionism go, let you walls down, and don’t fear failure. Fail! Let go of perfectionism. Grab grace instead.