“Perfection vs. Excellence” 10/01/2015 by Nancy Ruegg

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Written by Nancy Ruegg @ http://nancyaruegg.com

View original post @ http://nancyaruegg.com/2015/09/24/perfection-vs-excellence/

Perfection vs. Excellence

September 24, 2015 by Nancy Ruegg

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Years ago I read a story that still comes to mind now and then.

As I recall, an older church member (a woman of very high standards which she vocalized frequently), came to visit a young mother of the church—unannounced.

The impromptu hostess—we’ll call her Beth—invited Mrs. Perfect into her home, grateful that she’d straightened up a bit after her two older children left for school. The two younger ones were playing quietly with new Legos (How fortunate was that?), allowing the two women to chat.

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As they sat at the kitchen table, Beth considered the room from her guest’s perspective: table cleared, dishes done, counters not too cluttered or spotted. Whew.

Then she saw it: an orange peel on the floor—not a fresh strip from breakfast; more likely from last week. How did I miss that? Beth thought. One thing for sure: Mrs. Perfect wouldn’t miss it. It was in plain view from where she sat, too.

Suddenly, Beth experienced an epiphany. What difference did it make to her if this poor, old woman noticed the orange peel? Mrs. Perfect, however, would leave with a spring in her step because she would never allow such filth to remain undetected on her floor.

And Beth smiled to herself as the other woman prattled on about the upcoming bazaar.   I hope that orange peel makes her day. And Beth truly meant it.

God brings that story to my mind because I have to fight against perfectionism, too.

Obsessive man laying on grass, perfection

And the reasons? So others will be pleased with me, appreciate me, and admire my efforts. Notice: me, me, my.

Clearly perfectionism is a close relative of self-centeredness.  Oh, Lord, forgive me.

I pray God steers me away from such counter-productive expectations of myself. Instead, I want to strive for excellence.

Yes, there is a difference between perfection and excellence.

Perfectionists have the tendency to:

  • Set unreasonably high standards

  • Experience satisfaction only when those high standards are met

  • Become depressed over failures and disappointments

  • Be controlled by fear of failure and therefore procrastinate

  • Worry about disapproval when mistakes are made

On the other hand, those striving for excellence are likely to:

  • Set standards that are high but reachable

  • Enjoy the process as well as the outcome

  • Recover quickly from failures and disappointments

  • Keep fear under control with positive truth

  • View mistakes as opportunities for growth

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For the Christian, excellence should be our loving response to God, with the desire to please him.

And what might those responses look like, as we strive for excellence?

  • Ask God to reveal what his expectations are. Then invite him to work in us toward meeting his standard:  maturity (James 1:4).

  • Take pleasure in signs of spiritual growth, as we manifest the fruit of the Spirit more and more each day (Philippians 1:9-11).

  • Turn to him for encouragement and strength when failures and disappointments come (Psalm 18:25-33).

  • Keep fear under control with appropriate scriptures and uplifting devotionals (Psalm 118:5-8).

  • View mistakes as opportunities to grow in maturity and in our relationship with God (Proverbs 24:16).

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(By the way, when the Bible tells us to be perfect (as in Matthew 5:48), the words, mature and complete are helpful synonyms to interpose. Perfection is not within our abilities to achieve (Romans 3:23). We know it and God knows it.

Here’s what we can do:

“Strive toward holiness, yet relax in grace.”

–Philip Yancey

 

Isn’t that a wonderfully balanced goal?

Let’s remember: “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone [including ourselves] put a harness of slavery [to perfectionism] on you.” – Galatians 5:1 (MSG)*

*Words in brackets added.

Photo credits:  www.deeprootsathome.com; http://www.femhack.com; http://www.worshipmatters.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2).

What are your thoughts about perfectionism and Christian excellence?  Share your comments below!

About Godsmanforever

I present posts about God's Word, with a personal focus on how God's grace is received through saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ... Sinners must understand and obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ... See this link for more... http://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/
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