I’m a personality test enthusiast. Even silly ones, like “What ice cream flavor are you?” catch my eye. (I’m chocolate chip, by the way.) When I discovered the Myers-Briggs, I badgered all of my family and friends into taking it.
Recently, the Enneagram has taken center stage in the world of personality typing. I was pretty confident I knew my type, until the assessment results stared me in the face: Perfectionist.
Clearly the assessment was flawed. I took it again. I read up on it. And finally, I had to admit that this insufferable personality assessment had just called me out on my deepest struggle.
I am a perfectionist. In the world of Myers-Briggs, I’m an idealist. I prefer the sound of that, but either way, the facts are the same: I am often dissatisfied with the world around me, and even more displeased with what I contribute to it.
I struggle to complete tasks, because they have to be done perfectly. I hold my ideas close and failures closer. If I can’t do it according to my exact standards and ideals, I would rather not do it at all.
I tell myself this is because I’m trying to put out the best quality. After all, we’re taught from preschool to “do our best.” But at what point does “doing your best” become “doing nothing because it’s not perfect?”
When I honestly evaluate my white-knuckled perfectionism, it isn’t about working unto the Lord or putting my best foot forward.
It’s about me. My pride. My insecurities. My desire to look good.
Those hang ups have become a prison. Instead of working unto the Lord and trusting Him for the outcome, I work myself to the bone and try to control every possible result.
I refuse to step out where He’s calling me, because I’m not good enough yet. Things He has asked me to do go undone, because I don’t feel capable or qualified. Perfection at any cost comes at the price of stagnation. It means setting aside our dreams, passions, and calling. Pursuing perfection lands us on the sidelines of our own lives.
For those of us who are perfectionists, how can we progress beyond this?
The short answer: Action.
Perfectionism is rooted in irrational fear; often, the antidote to unfounded fear is doing the very thing we fear.
There are countless people in the Bible who were terrified until they stepped out in faith. God didn’t give them immediate courage or erase all fears, because their fear highlighted their great need for Him. Instead of pointing to themselves, their weaknesses and imperfections were used to point to a perfect Savior.
2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
We are not meant to live perfectly. We are meant to simply live.
So, my fellow perfectionists-in-recovery: What passions and dreams will you start progressing on? You don’t have to be perfect to make a difference. You just have to be available and willing to take some imperfect steps. Those very imperfections could be the catalyst for progress.
One of the things I’m going to be actively working on is this blog. My perfectionist tendencies are especially evident in my writing, so having a place to share my words will help me overcome those hangups.
If you have a minute and would like to help with my goal, I would truly appreciate your reply to the brief survey below. As I continue writing, this will help me know what content most interests you. That knowledge is going to be invaluable in generating ideas and moving forward.
Reader Feedback Survey: https://forms.gle/bxYYNEsPWr8xUga88
I look forward to reading your thoughts, and I appreciate you sharing in mine.