Are You A Perfectionist?

perfectionistTherefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5: 48

Jesus was not commanding His people to be perfectionists. One day Christ will make us perfect; during our time on earth, we should be striving for Christlikeness, always realizing that we have much room to grow.

Perfectionism is a disposition to feel that anything less than perfect is unacceptable. It is rooted in the need for control and affirmation.

Perfectionistic people think they should know everything and so beat themselves up for mistakes. They think they should be totally powerful and they become upset when things are out of their control. They believe they should accomplish the work of ten people in a given day and they become depressed and discouraged over what “little” they can accomplish.

Perfectionistic people are idealistic in that they frequently think about how things “should” be, not how they really are. They are always setting impossibly high goals, which lead to discouragement, failure, and ultimately quitting. They are afraid of failure, equating failure to achieve their goals with a lack of personal worth. They are tied up in the “shoulds”of life and require rigid rules. With such an overemphasis on contentment, happiness, and a sense of accomplishment are not permissible until their current project or activity has been completed. The “process” is overlooked because the end result has not been reached, thus there is no “joy in the journey.”

Perfectionistic people feel that they have to be the best at what they do. To simply do one’s best is not good enough. They believe their worth is determined by their performance. Since day-to-day performance in various areas of life fluctuates, a perfectionist’s sense of worth fluctuates as well.

PERSONALITY TYPES

Type A people are usually very strict and rigid and are often called perfectionists. They have a certain way for things to be done, and flexibility is not an option. They need to be on time and have problems with people who are more relaxed with time. They are often described as workaholics and are driven. They were probably given conditional love at some time in their lives; that is, only if a standard was met were they rewarded and accepted. They are more likely to suffer heart attacks at an earlier age than other personality types.

Type B people are usually more laid back, more carefree with their time. They are not so rigid and are considered more flexible in their relationships. They tend to cope with daily stress in a more positive way than Type A people.

Many references in the Bible use the word perfect; for example, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect”(Matt. 5: 48). You need to understand that perfection is not something God demands from you. God knows you cannot do it or He would not have had to send His Son.

As Christians, we need to be more concerned with our relationship with God—allowing Him to make us perfect—than with being perfectionists. A perfect heart will do more to insure a life of healthy relationships and a good self-worth than any perfectionist’s rigid schedule or ways will.

ACTION STEPS

1. Determine Your Personality

Do some self-exploration by taking a personality inventory, such as the Myers-Briggs or other similar test that is available online. This is a great way to discover what makes you tick. Seeing yourself on paper and realizing that you have personality tendencies that are similar to those of others can be part of your life journey in discovering the you God made.

2. Change Is Not the Issue

You do not need to change as much as begin to understand your God-given na-ture and how to use it when appropriate and rein it in when not appropriate.

3. Learn Flexibility and Acceptance

Realizing, for example, that “I am more rigid with my time and you are more flexible,” is okay and doesn’t mean that I am better than you.

Ask, “What’s the worst that can happen?” The answer probably isn’t worth losing sleep over.

God’s love is unconditional. You don’t have to earn His love by being a perfec-tionist or by setting unrealistic standards for yourself or others.

God sets no conditions that we have to meet to be His children. We, in turn, need to be unconditional in how we accept and love others.

4. Laugh a Little

Don’t be so judgmental of yourself and others. Find humor in who you are.

Laugh at yourself when you do something foolish or funny. Be prepared to laugh with others who are laughing with/ at you.

5. Be Realistic

* You’re not going to be God, so stop trying.

* Look at life as it is, not as you think it should be.

* Meet people halfway.

* Don’t expect the impossible—of yourself or others. Set attainable goals and reasonable time limits.

* In your life, determine when perfectionism is appropriate and when it is not. Learn to accept “good enough” on certain tasks.

* Realize that many positive things can be learned from making mistakes.

6. Be Perfect in Heart

Concentrate on having a perfect heart with God. This will release you to a less stressful life. You’ll live for God and not for your perfectionist tendencies.

Being perfect in heart (not being a perfectionist) and having one will with the Father enables you to overcome perfectionist tendencies that disconnect you from your loved ones, and inhibit your relationships in general.

WRAPPING IT UP

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10: 14

Believers have been made perfect in God’s eyes because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the same time, however, we are “being sanctified,” being made perfect and holy progressively through our walk with Him.

We are considered perfect, even though we have a long way to go. As we let God work in us, He perfects us.

Instead of measuring perfection by worldly standards, we should seek to obey God, looking forward to the day when He will finally make us perfect for life with Him in our perfect eternal home.

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