When you see the battle of perfectionism, most of the time it is addressed in counseling and psychology circles, where they are noticing this bondage in person after person. Christians often come under it the most, especially since we have been taught a standard of holiness and sanctification to pursue. Yet legalism, our personal brokenness and various twisting of Scriptures has brought in a yoke that God never intended us to carry.
Perfectionism Battles are Very Spiritual
We cannot see perfectionism simply as a psychological defect, but a spiritual battle waging over our peace and freedom. Too often we see battles in our mind, without any regard to the invisible work of the enemy’s camp that may be at the source of our thoughts and behaviors.
This is the reason we need to know who is talking in our thinking and take every thought captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Perfectionism is the enemy’s way of distorting our desire to walk in holiness. He perverts it so that we become religiously bound and hindered from freedom. We cannot just see this as a mind battle, but also as a spiritual assault to keep us free.
I am passionate about eliminating this perfectionistic burden from the body of Christ for two main reasons. The first is that this counterfeit is operating heavily today and needs to be address. The second is personal: this stronghold owned my life for far too long. ￼
My Own Battle
For years, it robbed me of peace and kept me from being able to enjoy life at its fullest. It took my desire to please God and twisted it into a performance, driveness and perfectionistic mindset that would not allow me to have peace. I thought that once I achieved a goal, I would experience rest. Yet nothing I achieved ever brought me peace, because nothing was ever good enough. There was always something better that could be done and always something that was wrong in everything.
I had no joy and no ability to appreciate what I had in life. I deeply struggled to be “present” in life, because my mind was trained to focus on the next thing coming that just “had to be perfect.” Everything in life needed to be amazing and over the top or else I was in torment. Performance was higher in value than relationship, because my identity was based on performance. The pressure began to build and build, until I realized how it had owned many areas of my thinking. It had literally programmed me in toxic behaviors. This all lead back to the fact that I was not secure in God’s love and acceptance of me. It lead to a poor self-view and sense of identity, so I poured myself into perfectionistic performance to try and find who I am.
The fear of failure along with the fear of being weak and flawed haunted me. If I made a mistake I was tormented inside. If someone saw the mistake it was a dead end street in my mind. I had a hard time not feeling like mistakes were the end of the world. Weakness in my mind was a dead-end failure and unacceptable. To be very honest, those who live with perfectionism have a really hard time knowing how to live without it. This was also true in my life.
For so long I thought I was walking in excellence, but I was deceived. When I came to the realization of the perfectionism bondage in me, I began to see how I was not walking in excellence. This was a tormenting bondage.
Until I really saw how this was damaging me, I still fell under perfectionism’s programming. I had to make a brave decision to leave these chains behind and walk in a new dimension of rest–with myself and with others. When I saw how it was affecting my mind and my health, I made a decision for freedom–a freedom that I thought before would never be available for me.
I have made the decision that I want to live free. I want to live in such a way where the pressure is off and I am free to be me as God sees me to be. It is my commitment to live a longer life and live in greater health. Part of that involves leaving performance, perfectionism and driveness behind. I cannot be a victim of what happens around me. I also cannot live in a prison of my own failures. Christ did not die on the cross so that I would be tormented against myself with inward conflict and self-pressures that bind.
So many today are driven to make a name for themselves, build a large ministry and business–all in the name of God, but driven by a perfectionistic spirit of driveness that is operating at man’s pace and man’s power. The pace of it is killing us. These patterns may make someone successful in the world’s eyes, but it renders us ineffective in our long-term health and effectiveness in God’s Kingdom.
When I put this perfectionistic mindset behind me, I could see the results almost instantly. It has its awkward stages, but I begin to feel like a million bucks in every way. The pressure gets released, the burden to perform is no longer a yoke and the results are left in God’s hands. It is now my responsibility to show up, be myself and grow at each stage. The results are in God’s hands and I must take my peace in that.
I must give room for weakness and mistakes, for they are not the end, but a beginning for change. I need to be ok with flaws in front of people – because people are more touched by our challenges than where we seem to look perfect. As I become less perfectionistic, I am less tempted to put unrealistic expectations on others. Anger loses its hold and stress begins to face as I take my peace in my journey with God. He is OK to walk with us in our imperfected state–so I need to take my peace and rest in that each day.
How bout you? Where are you seeing the need for perfectionism to be removed from your life?
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