I recently discovered the writing of Anne Lamott, and just loved what she says both in this excellent, honest and funny TED Talk ‘12 truths I learned from life and writing,’ and in this comment below, which is about writing in particular, but what she says about the curse of perfectionism in general, is spot on:
Having sat under the excellent ministry of Dr David Coffey for a few years, I must say his wealth of wisdom and depth of insight is unsurpassed.
The primary gift of Dr Coffey (UK and world Baptist Supremo – my phrase not his) is in his pastoral integrity and love for the Church of Jesus Christ. He is a leader of leaders and is in himself a most excellent example of what a leader, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, is like.
David spotted something within the pages of Scripture that few people would dare to see. That when God calls a person, they are incomplete, imperfect, sinful, even rebellious.
He writes, “It seems God only calls people who have struggles with faith. Having called them, he gets to work on the parts of their lives that are not yet perfect.”
Here are the examples he cites:
- Moses the reluctant leader (Exodus 3 & 4)
- Esther the courageous leader……eventually (Esther 4:12-17)
- Jonah the reluctant missionary
- John the Baptist – the preacher with doubts (Mat 11:1-3)
- Mary the homemaker with a ministry (Luke 2:19; 41-52)
- Martha the manager whose work was a distraction (Luke 10:38-41 & John 11:17-27)
- Peter the fisherman who nearly threw everything away (Mat 16:13-20 & 26:69-75)
- Apollos the gifted preacher who needed deepening (Acts 18:24-28)
- Philip the fisherman who lacked confidence (John 6:7; 12:20-22; 14:9)
- Paul the great Apostle to the Gentiles who battles with his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor 12:7-10)
My dear Christian brothers and sisters, God doesn’t call perfect people because He doesn’t save perfect people. He calls sinners because He saves sinners. Our job is to say ‘Yes’ to God and see what He does with our lives. Perfectionism has no place in the Christian life. Making us perfect is His job, and ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus’ (Phil 1:6).
Christian ministry and the Christian life is Cross-shaped for a reason.
The reason is Jesus Christ. Perfect people need not gather at the Cross (because they don’t exist)!
The only Perfect One was on the Cross.
He was broken so we would never have to be.
He is Perfect, for that is what we will be.