I am probably just like you.
I want to live life well. I want to know Jesus and to follow Him. I want to be like Him. I want to make the most of every opportunity I am given and to multiply it for God’s glory and for the extension of His Kingdom.
But I get tripped up by things sometimes. One of those things is trying to be perfect.
In Luke chapter 10 we see the story of two sisters, Mary and Martha. I love these two women that Jesus loved. Just two sisters trying to serve Jesus and follow Him. Women like you and I. Mary is captivated by Jesus and sits at his feet to hear every word He speaks.
And Martha loves Jesus too. It was her idea to invite Jesus into their home in the first place. But, when Jesus arrives she can’t relax and enjoy the evening. Something is driving her. I don’t believe she loves any less. I think dear Martha lets the pressure of getting everything right rob her of something more important. And it probably wasn’t the first time.
Martha wanted to show her love for Jesus in a practical way. How wonderful! How precious and good! But then she got a little carried away and soon there were elaborate recipes, side dishes and table settings and she was overwhelmed. That is because perfectionism always escalates what is required.
You know what I mean. Like when an invitation for lemonade in the backyard becomes high tea at the Ritz. Perfectionism drives us to make even simple things into elaborate productions until we are completely worn out.
Just look at verse 41 where Jesus rightly discerns that Martha is ‘worried and upset about many things.’ Do you relate to that? I do and if I am not careful, this can become a way of life.
If my value is based on my achievements, then no ball can be dropped and every plate must be spinning. It all has to be perfect or I don’t feel good about myself or my life. I can’t rest or worship or have fun until things are just how I want them to be, which of course is an elusive goal. There is always something more than needs to be done.
And then, perfectionism affects your relationships. It is all so inevitable. We worry and work and wear ourselves out and then we get upset when others don’t share our unrealistic expectations. It wasn’t enough for Martha to turn a simple meeting with Jesus into an elaborate feast, she wanted help with it. How unfair it is when we resent someone else’s relaxation because we don’t know when or how to relax. Mary was able to sit at Jesus’ feet because she was comfortable with rest.
But worst of all, perfectionism causes you to miss out. Just like Martha, if we don’t identify and fight this in our lives, we will miss out on all sorts of God-given opportunities. We will miss out on fellowship because our cooking is average or our home needs redecorating. We will miss out on exciting ministry opportunities because we don’t speak or sing as well as so-and-so. We won’t apply for a job or try a new hobby in case we aren’t good enough. And worst of all, we will miss out on time with Jesus because we are busy icing an unnecessary cake.
Perfectionism makes it very, very difficult to live the careful life, maybe even impossible.
That is because when we spread ourselves too thinly, we end up neglecting the things that really matter. The only way to stop this is to recalibrate our thinking. Our minds need daily renewal so that truth can thrive and lies can be rejected.
You can start today.
Right now, remind yourself that you are a deeply loved child of God. You are really good at some things and pretty average at others. But, you are learning and growing.
Remember, perfection is not the goal, God’s perfecting is, and He is working on your character, not your resume. You are not in competition with anyone else. You are uniquely created and valued by the One who thought you up. You are His idea and He likes you.
God is refining you but that is His job and His business and He will finish it in His time.
There are things in your life today that really matter and things that really don’t. Pray for the grace to know which is which. Then you will work when it is time to work and you will drop everything when Jesus comes to visit.