PC-USA 1996-07-02 - Excellence vs. Perfectionism

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Sometimes we tend to blur the distinction between "excellence" and "perfectionism." However, excellence is what God wants us to pursue, while perfectionism is detrimental to our spiritual health. Excellence is from God:

Phil 4:8 (NIV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

1 Cor 12:31 (NIV) But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.

To strive for excellence means to do our best, and to be content to leave the rest for God; to be perfectionistic means that we aren't ever truly satisfied with the results of something that we do.

To strive for excellence means to live at peace with God, knowing that we are giving -- with His help -- our best efforts; to be perfectionistic means to live anxiously, always worrying about the flaws in what we are doing or have done.

To strive for excellence means to use our gifts to the best of our ability, but ultimately putting people first; to be perfectionistic means that sometimes -- perhaps often -- people are relegated to a lower place than the details of what we are doing.

To strive for excellence means to work like this: Col 3:23 (NIV) "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." To be perfectionistic, is to seek praise from people, for the "perfection" of your work.

To strive for excellence means to humbly depend on God for our abilities, strength, and results, and to give Him glory. To be perfectionistic means to begin to believe that we are responsible for our own gifts and successes, that we are self-sufficient.

To strive for excellence means to live in contentment and peace, knowing that God is pleased because You are working for Him, and doing your best. To be perfectionistic means to live in frustration, and to have sleepless nights because of fear of mistakes.

So how do we go about changing from perfectionism to seeking excellence? I personally have found the following to be helpful:

  1. Pray for God to help us release results to Him, and to stay focused on the fact that we are working ultimately for Him, and for His glory. He is our "boss."

  2. Read and meditate on passages such as the following: Mat 11:29 (NIV) "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Remember, perfectionism comes with a very heavy yoke, so it's not from Him!

  3. Have a friend hold you accountable for making progress in this, and pray for you.

Dear Lord, please help us to remember that You are Whom we are ultimately working for, and to focus on trying to please You, and not on performing "perfectly." In Jesus' name, amen.

[email jan] : ) Janice P. Moser

All scripture references are from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

CFD | July 1996 | Jan's Devotions | Yesterday's Devotion | Devotional Topic