Home Menu

How can I overcome perfectionism?

I believe perfectionism is not an evil thing one has to overcome. I want a perfectionist for my surgeon or pilot. I do not want to fly with a guy who says, “Forget that control tower! Let’s get this thing off the ground!” But, perfectionism can’t be the dominate trait if I want to be usable in God’s kingdom. The reason for this is that the roots of perfectionism lie in an unhealthy striving for acceptance. It begins with striving for the acceptance of others (usually mom or dad) but eventually takes a “U-Turn” and becomes a striving for self-acceptance. It is a striving to construct a “righteousness of my own based upon (my) law” which says “I must perform perfectly before I can be at peace within. I feel antsy if anything for which I am responsible is not done perfectly. You can readily see that this is an earthly striving for acceptance, based upon performance. I reiterate, it’s not the performance that is unacceptable to God, but the motive. See pp. 24-26 of Lifetime Guarantee.

I have found some pitfalls the evil one uses on those with perfectionist flesh patterns. When such a Christian appropriates Christ as life, indwelling sin often “tells” him, “Now that Christ is my life, I can trust Him to perform perfectly through me. So, you see, it’s still the same fleshly striving for perfect performance so I can accept myself perfectly; only this time I’m going to get Jesus to help me accomplish it!

The evil one will quote Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ” to the inner man out of context deceiving him into misinterpreting it to be saying that every believer can perfectly perform any task in the world if he just has enough faith. This will ultimately defeat a perfectionist flesh person, if he buys into the idea.

The perfectionist flesh man seeks to control all the variables in his life. He wants to ensure that there will be no surprises. He wants to accurately predict the next five minutes of his life so he will never be caught unprepared. He cannot tolerate life being out of control. His motivation is to control. If something goes wrong, he wants to know that it was not his fault. He wants assurance that he is not going to wind up looking stupid or unprepared because he cannot accept himself under those circumstances. (There’s that word again.) Pages 24-26 of Lifetime Guarantee show how this worked in Saul.

Let’s draw a continuum of all the variables in your life and quantify them on a zero to a hundred scale.


0————————————–95—–100The perfectionist’s moment-by-moment goal is to keep all the ducks lined up in his life-space. Because he’s worked so hard, he feels he has the variables from 0 to 95% under control. It’s the last 5% which keep him troubled. Sin, therefore, urges him to attack each day by spending his time scrutinizing and working on the variables from 95 to 100, striving to close the gap and hopefully gain 100% control. He hopes to eliminate any potential failure, so he can accept himself better.

Through this procedure, sin keeps calling to his attention more and more variables in the 95 to 100 range, some of minor importance, which must be corrected and brought under control. By “letting his mind dwell on these (negative) things” and ignoring the 0 to 95% factors, which represent the “whatever things” of Phil. 4:8, this man loses his peace. Instead of attaining his goal of closing the gap between 95 and 100, he begins to see the parameter of 95 being pushed backward toward 90, especially as his earthsuit begins to wear out and his soul-strength ebbs with the aging process. Sin continues to load on the condemnation which seems like self-condemnation due to the first person pronouns it uses. The end is a defeated Christian.

We have resources available explaining these truths, in addition to Lifetime Guarantee. Two of Our audio tape albums, Victorious Christian Living and Strongholds are excellent sources.