Although God has called us to freedom, do you find yourself striving for unattainable goals, never reaching them, and, therefore, never ever being fulfilled?
Last month we looked at the first of two messages on perfectionism, which is defined as judging yourself by your achievements. Even Paul addressed this with the church at Galatia when he said this in Galatians 1:1-3,
"O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"
There are several things we learned about the perfectionist. Perfectionists are not led — they are driven. As a reminder from our previous article, here are 10 things that are the marks of life behind the prison of perfectionism.
1. The perfectionist is never satisfied.
2. The perfectionist is critical of other people.
3. The perfectionist ruins the fellowship.
4. The perfectionist sets impossible goals.
5. The perfectionist is an idealist.
6. A perfectionist has to be the best, not his best.
7. A perfectionist values himself by what he does, what he has, or what he obtains rather than who he is.
8. A perfectionist feels guilty if he ever relaxes.
9. A perfectionist is project-minded rather than process-minded.
10. A perfectionist has irremovable guilt. A perfectionist can't accept a compliment or criticism.
So now that you can identify the perfectionist, are you ready for a prison break? Let's go for it. Let's get out of the prison of perfectionism, and I want to suggest three ways you can do it.
Learn and believe God has accepted you by grace.
Ephesians 1:6 says, "To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved." How does God make you accepted? By His grace. Not by your attainment, not by your works, not by your striving. Grace is completely contrary to human nature. Human nature wants to live by guilt and not by grace.
Don't get the idea that God is eager to punish you, to catch you in some kind of a sin, to put you down, or grind you under for some mistake. Do you think God's up there in heaven with a notebook, recording how many things you have done wrong? And He's saying, "Well, he didn't do too good today. She didn't make it today."
God is not the God of push and shove — wanting us to do more and more and run faster and faster in order to please Him. Grace is God's acceptance of us. Faith is our acceptance of God's acceptance of us. You will find people all over the world who have great difficulty with the assurance of their salvation. Do you know why? Morbid introspection — they're so busy looking at themselves rather than looking at Jesus.
Are you thinking that performance is not good or it's okay to lower the standard? In actuality — if you're trying to earn your acceptance before God by your performance, you will also be disappointed. Plus, you'll never have the freedom from this prison that the devil has put you in.
Learn and believe you can accept yourself.
That doesn't mean to make peace with sin. But reprogram your self-concept. Say, with the apostle Paul, "I am what I am by the grace of God." In God's eyes you are special. God has accepted you. You accept yourself. Don't be hooked to your past. You see, you must accept yourself.
Let Jesus look into your eyes today. Let Him say to you, "I love you. I accept you. I don't love you because you're valuable; you're valuable because I love you." God has accepted you. Now, you accept yourself.
Learn to accept other people.
Don't demand perfection out of anybody because they can't give it. Let God be God, and you resign as the CEO of the universe. You see, they don't have to earn their acceptance with God, so why should they have to earn it with you?
When you accept other people not only do you free them, but you're going to free yourself to be all you can be. And I'll promise you this: When you get out of the performance trap you'll not do less; you'll probably do more. You'll achieve more. You'll enjoy it a whole lot more.
So now you have the keys to break free from that prison of perfectionism. Now use them. You will not be able to escape unless you use the keys.