Perfection or Excellence?

I’ve had trouble collecting my thoughts today, so here’s a reblog from my old site.  I can see how God has continued to work in this area since the post 3 1/2 years ago:

Hi, my name is Vicki, and I’m a perfectionist.  (Hi Vicki!)

It was my friend Lisa who first mentioned the concept of pursuing Excellence rather than Perfection.  Her words were refreshing, -–like a cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer day!  It’s funny.  Since that time, the topic keeps coming up in my reading, reminding me that I, the perfectionist, must pursue attainable goals, and remain undaunted when I fall short.

I fall short a lot!

If you are a fellow perfectionist, you know how hard it is when you fail…or worse yet, when you fail others!  You probably don’t enjoy constructive criticism either.  It’s not because you think  you’re perfect and don’t want to be told otherwise, it’s because your own faults are already glaring to you, and the last thing you want is attention drawn to them.  Do you relate?

Perfectionism can be a very unhealthy thing.  It makes us uptight.  We worry.  We replay conversations and wish we could go back and change them.  We work too hard to get a project just right, and never seem to be done (Yes, I started this post over a week ago, but I couldn’t decide just how I wanted to present it!). A perfectionist’s work is never done, because it is never, well, perfect!

The difference between excellence and perfection is that excellence is about the process, and allows continued to growth and development, whereas perfection is an end goal (and an unattainable one at that).  Excellence does its very best, and learns from the process.  Perfection frustrates itself, and stalls.

I am actually a recovering perfectionist.  I can say this because I have learned so much about God’s grace.  Grace is the ability to fail, and still remain in good standing.  It eliminates the need for perfection.  That is the reason God sent His Son: to offer grace, to offer us good standing with Him…even when we fail.   There’s that cool glass of lemonade again!

I am actually stronger when I allow myself to drop my expectations of perfection.  Listen to this quote from 2 Corinthians 12:9 (God speaking):  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  The Apostle Paul went on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I read a beautiful post on Andrew Peterson’s blog about God’s grace:

“It’s the great, confounding reversal of the Gospel of Jesus. If the word we preach is one of attainable perfection, of law, of justification by works, then when we fail, our testimony fails with it. But if we preach our deep brokenness and Christ’s deeper healing, if we preach our inability to take a single breath but for God’s grace, then our weakness exalts him and we’re functioning as we were meant to since the foundation of the world.”

Here is a link to Andrew’s entire post if you are interested in reading more:

Wishing you the courage to step away from perfectionism and into grace.  Any discussion?

About Vicki Gatchell

I am a wife, a mother of four, a small-town girl, a lover of people, and most recently, I have been overwhelmingly called to share the message of Jesus Christ in Grace and Truth. I grew up on a farm near Hicksville, Ohio where I raised sheep and was nurtured in a love for nature. I received my Bachelor's Degree in Physical Therapy from The Ohio State University and have been practicing Physical Therapy for over 25 years. I received my Master's Degree in Ministry Studies and Women's Leadership Studies from Grace College and Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. I am a life-long student of theology, a longtime ministry volunteer, and I feel called to step forward and lead.