By Rick Warren

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”(Ecclesiastes 11:4 LB)

When you learn how to relax in God’s liberating grace and break out of the prison of perfectionism, you will find a new level of joy and freedom in your life. Why is this? Because perfectionism is destructive to your life in several ways.

1. It defeats your initiative.

Have you ever had a project you haven’t been able to get started on? You think, “One of these days I’m going to get around to it,” but you just can’t take that first step. One possible reason is perfectionism. You’re waiting for the perfect circumstance or timing, until the kids get out of school, or until a certain amount of money comes in. When you set your standards so high, perfectionism causes paralysis, and you can’t get anything done.

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 11:4, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (LB).

2. It damages your relationships.

Nobody likes being nagged or corrected all the time. It’s frustrating and irritating! The Bible says, “Love forgets mistakes; nagging about them parts the best of friends” (Proverbs 17:9). Perfectionism — the desire to always correct — damages relationships, because it’s rooted in insecurity. Perfectionists who are harsh and demanding on other people are really harsh and demanding on themselves.

3. It destroys your happiness.

Ecclesiastes 7:16 says, “Don’t be too virtuous, and don’t be too wise. Why make yourself miserable?” (GW) He’s not talking about genuine righteousness or real wisdom. He’s talking about perfectionism. You can take any virtue and make a vice out of it by taking it to the extreme.

Your worst nag lives under your skin, because people are their own worst critic. Since we tend to resent and even dislike people who nag us, if you’re always nagging yourself, what does that say about you? It says that you don’t like you. You think you’re not good enough. And you think reminding yourself what’s wrong with you is going to motivate you into doing the right thing. It’s not! That’s called perfectionism, and it causes you to constantly put yourself down.

There’s only one antidote to perfectionism. It’s not in a self-help book or a doctor’s office. You can only learn to relax when you fully experience the liberating grace of God.

Talk It Over

  • What perfect conditions do you need to let go of so you can move forward?
  • Why is it important for you to be able to relax? What does it say to people who are not followers of Jesus?
  • What negative thoughts about yourself do you need to replace with God’s promises and truth about who you really are?