3 Pitfalls of Being a Perfectionist for Christ

Let’s me start off today’s thought by asking you a question (and please answer honestly!): what would you do if you had a dinner guest coming tonight? Your brain probably jumps to the list of things you’d need to do to prepare, right? The house should be vacuumed, there are groceries to be bought, surfaces should be dusted, an extra place setting needs to be put out…
Now, what if that dinner guest was Jesus?

What’s Wrong with Perfectionism?

As Jesus visits His faithful friends, Martha’s eyes become fixated on the reclining figure on the floor—her sister, simply sitting at the feet of Jesus. Resentment rears its ugly head and takes root in Martha’s heart.
In essence, Martha is fuming in front of Jesus. “How can Mary just sit there when there is so much to be done? Mary isn’t helping at all! No one’s helping me. No one notices my perfect efforts to make the perfect meal in our perfectly clean home.”
Martha decides that Jesus needs to do something about this! She’s determined to get Mary up off the floor and into the kitchen. So rather than appeal to Mary, Martha challenges Jesus’ insensitivity. As she chastizes Him for being uncaring, her words are saturated with self-pity: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?”
Then, propelled by her perfectionism, Martyr Martha audaciously commands the Commander of the universe: “Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40).
Many people today are propelled by their perfectionism—to their personal detriment.

  • Perfectionism is an unhealthy, compulsive pattern of thinking that demands perfection in any undertaking.
    • Anything less than perfect is unacceptable.
    • No task is attempted unless perfection is attainable.

For example, Jesus tells the parable of the talents—money given to three men by their master to invest wisely. This consisted of eight talents—or eight pounds of gold—with each talent the equivalent of about 20 years’ worth of wages. While two servants doubled their investment, the third man hid his gold and said, “I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you” (Matthew 25:25).

  • Perfectionists appear confident, conscientious, and highly productive, but the truth is …
    • They are full of self-doubt and fear that the slightest mistake or misstep will cause others to be disappointed in them or reject them.
    • They become overly sensitive to the opinions and feedback of others, often disregarding their own healthy instincts.

The Bible says, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

  • Perfectionists live in an overly cautious way.
    • They are reluctant to try new tasks, take risks, or tackle big projects.
    • They fear failing or appearing “inadequate” in the eyes of others.

The Bible says, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10).

Do any of these signs sound like you? Whether you’re a perfectionist at serving at church, caring for your kids, at your job, or with yourself, perfectionism can creep in anywhere and can stop you from receiving the grace and mercy the Lord has for you in Christ:

This excerpt is from June Hunt’s title Perfectionism.

Perfectionism: The Performance Trap [Hope For The Heart Series]

Compassionate in its approach, rich with Scripture, and easy-to-understand, this 96-page book is a must-have guide on overcoming (and helping others overcome) perfectionism. Perfectionism includes practical steps and Christian advice on how to break free from the unrealistic expectations and self-defeating thoughts that keep perfectionists stuck in a prison of performance.
Freedom from perfectionism begins at the point of truth – God’s truth. In this quick-reference minibook, June Hunt unpacks key Bible verses to deepen your understanding of what it means to be made “perfect” in Christ. Experience the freedom that comes from replacing your fear of failure with the unshakable truth of God’s unconditional love.

Designed for individual use or for friends, pastors, Christian counselors, and church leaders to give to those struggling with perfectionism.

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