Overcoming Perfectionism

Overcoming Perfectionism

Whether perfectionism drives you or discourages you, we can all agree its negative effects are not helping anyone. The drive to be perfect may seem like a noble task, but operating in godly excellence and trying to get everything exactly right are two totally different things. In today’s video, learn signs you are a perfectionist, its root causes, and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can set you free from the trap of perfectionism. Enjoy!


Whether perfectionism drives you or discourages you, we can all agree its negative effects are not helping anyone. The drive to be perfect may seem like a noble task, but operating in excellence and trying to get everything exactly right are two totally different things.

What is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is the need to be or appear perfect. It’s the refusal to accept anything that is not perfect. As Christians, many times this looks like setting even higher expectations on ourselves than God does. And that’s the greatest problem with perfectionism for the believer. Our focus is turned from God Himself to getting everything exactly right.

Although we serve a perfect God who calls us to be holy, (Matthew 5:48) our hearts are not to desire the appearance of perfection more than we desire our perfect God. 

Signs of Perfectionism

Perfectionism may look like not doing things until you feel ready, but you never do so because you have many unfinished projects. It looks like constantly focusing on the negative details and ignoring the overall positive picture of things. It looks like being so paralyzed with fear that you never even get started or obsessively tweaking and correcting to no end. 

Sources of Perfectionism

Our perfectionistic tendencies come from a few sources. 

Shame tells us that we are bad and we compensate by accepting the lie that we can gain the approval and acceptance that we crave through our actions, but of course that means if we believe our actions are the measurement of our value. The more things we do right, the more we feel worthy. At the same time, when we miss the mark, as we often do, those feelings of shame are confirmed and we feel worthless. The gospel however reminds us that our worth isn’t defined by what we do, but what has already been done for us through the work of Christ on the cross. 

Worry also leads to perfectionism because at the core root of worry is a desire for control. We worry we are not enough, so we try to do all the right things. We worry we won’t be accepted so we try to please people. 

And perfectionism can give us a false sense of control by giving us unrealistic standards that we can try to meet so we can gain control and overcome our worry. But Philippians 3 makes it clear that we don’t overcome worry with perfectionism. We overcome worry by submitting to God in prayer, thanksgiving, and a renewed mind. At the end of the day, God is in control and He wants us to not lean on our own understanding, but to trust Him (Proverbs 3:5), not the crazy expectations we allow perfectionism to give us. 

Finally, pride often leads to perfectionism. We exhibit pride anytime we are thinking too much of ourselves, whether good or bad. When the focus is more on us and what we can do, are doing, or not doing, we lose sight of God's power in our lives. Perfectionism, therefore, has to run on a certain level of pride. It says I have to get this right, it’s all on me, I’m the only one who can do this right. And all the pressure and focus is on “I” and not God. 

Which takes us back to what I shared earlier that we then end up placing way more expectations on ourselves then even God. The thought that there is some path apart from God that we can attain perfection is prideful and only adds unnecessary pressure.

God does not expect us to be perfect. If He did, He would not have sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. Romans 8:23 solidifies the truth that perfectionism has escaped all of us, as we all fall short and sin. Isaiah 40 reminds us that we all get tired. Jesus calls the weary to come to Him, not the perfect, not the strong. It’s with humility that we overcome the pressure of perfectionism. In Mark 2:17, He says: 

"And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17 ESV)

Perfectionism causes us to miss out on God's grace, peace and rest. Because perfection can never be attained on this side of eternity, and our efforts towards perfectionism are endlessly exhausting. We’re running a race for which there is no finish line and where we can never win.

The cure for perfectionism:

So, what should we aim for instead: Godly excellence. Emphasis on God. We don’t need to aim for perfection, but place our faith in our perfect God. When Godly excellence is our goal, there is no pressure but grace, no rush but patience, no judgement but love.

When the Bible calls us to be holy and perfect, it means to be made whole in Christ, not by our own standards and strength. And the only way we can do this is by placing our faith in Him.

I love these encouraging words from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:12. He says:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Philippians‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭ESV‬)‬

Christ has finished the work for us, and Christ is the one who is and will perfect us. (Hebrews 10:14) Not in our own strength, but in God’s. Our aim is not perfection, because we can’t get there on our own. Our aim is God who is perfecting us. If you would like to achieve perfection through the forgiveness of your sin, click the link in the description of this video to learn how to start a relationship with Christ.

Now I’d love to hear from you Beloved. Do you struggle with perfectionism and how has God helped you in this area? Let's encourage one another in the comments. 

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As always, thank you so much for watching and until next time, be beautiful, be blessed, and be loved.