The Weekly PowerBreak – “Stymied By Perfectionism”

You’ve been given a project.  But the more you think of all that is entailed in doing a good job, the bigger the project looks, especially as you focus on how you could do the project like nobody before; but the more you think about it the bigger it gets, so you put it off. That kind of scenario happens to all of us when we are stymied by perfectionism. The perfectionism state of mind hinders us from getting started because we cannot see ourselves performing to the level we think is necessary. Perhaps it’s the peer pressure or boss or someone in authority pressure, more than likely it is self-inflicted pressure as we conger up a perfect case situation which we can never meet.

But wait! Are we not told to be perfect in the Bible?

Matthew 5:48 (ESV) — 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus says that after teaching the need to love others, including our enemies, and not just people that love us. So, the context is loving with a perfect love, which by the way, none of us can conjure up on our own, it must come from God through us, therefore it’s actually God’s perfect love and not our perfecting love. Nevertheless, Jesus uses the high standard so that we’ll never be “just satisfied” with just a little dose of love and think we have met the standard.

God is the standard because He is perfect and everything He does is perfect.

Deuteronomy 32:3–4 (ESV) — 3 For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! 4 “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.

2 Samuel 22:31 (ESV) — 31 This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

With God and His ways as the standard, we have a high goal for which to shoot which should produce in us a never-ending desire to learn and improve as well as a strong work ethic and desire to always do our best.

Whenever we get into a mindset that we’ll actually achieve perfection, our egos have taken a toll on us to think we could attain excellence. When we fall into that trap we focus on results rather than giving our best, anxiety gets the best of us because we know inside we cannot achieve the standard that we have allowed ourselves to think we can make; therefore, we never celebrate actual milestones along the way, nor the progress others are making. In other words, perfectionism leads to bitterness and a focus upon failure which tends to procrastination because we cannot see how we’ll get to the end. Lack of confidence, impatience, and a focus on what others are saying about us all goes along with being stymied by perfectionism.

Is there help?

Understand that perfection belongs only to God. He is not looking for perfection as far as results in our lives, rather what He refers to as a “perfect heart” which is a heart that is sold out to Him. He takes that person who is “all in” and giving their very best and He works the result to His glory. We enjoy the confidence of simply being clay in the Potter’s hands.

Philippians 3:12–15 (ESV) — 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

Rather than being stymied by perfectionism, be sold out to the One Who is perfect in all His ways and watch Him work a new and higher standard in you and through you to His glory.


Bob Brubaker