A Biblical Alternative to Perfectionism

There were 4 of them….bushels of peaches, I mean. They were completing them with speed and efficiency. I was quite impressed, not to mention rather convicted. You see, I had just thrown a 1/2 bushel of beans away, because we hadn’t gotten them put up before they went bad. She was doing her peaches with 3 children. I was doing my beans with 6. (Granted, her’s were Biggers – an important detail, but STILL…)

What is it that makes us strive to excel – to do well, to seek to honor the Lord with our work? I shared with you that I wasn’t able to find any Biblical word that would compare with perfectionism, so I was on a mission to find a word that WAS Biblical that would offer me the positive side of my understanding of perfectionism. I think I found it. I believe the word is diligence.

When looking up the Scriptures involving diligence, when looking up the meaning of the word diligent, I find a few…layers of implied meaning to the word. I think, for me at any rate, by having a clearly Biblical word, I then have additional measuring tools to know if I am first, attaining to it and secondly, if I’m sliding toward sin.

What I found when studying diligence – and please don’t misunderstand, this was a short study. Molly I am not. Β  πŸ™‚Β Β  I do not have the time (possibly not even the inclination, currently??) let alone the fact that I tend toward being a bear of little brain, to go on a full fledged attack of this word. But, I’d like to offer up what I have found and allow you to pray through it, to seek the Holy Spirit about it and see if there is anything for you to glean from it. If not, open your hand and allow it, as chaff, to simply blow away. (Again, I don’t want to imply IN ANY WAY that fullness of wisdom resides in me. He who HAS fullness of wisdom does, but at this point He has not chosen to pour it all into me.) πŸ˜‰

I’m going to offer a pitiful attempt to share with you my current definition of diligence – please, be a Berean – search the Scriptures and see what they say. I am open to correction, by all means. (By ALL means!)

Perhaps in your life, you too have noted that when you’re wrestling with a concept, idea, etc the Holy Spirit will place within your grasp something that will tie up all the loose ends for you? That’s what happened for me. The Lord put a book into my hands that presented a definition of diligence that meshed wonderfully with my own study. May I offer to you, the definition, as put forth by Steven Scott in his book, “The Richest Man Who Ever Lived” (a study of the Proverbs)? “Diligence is a learnable skill that combines: creative persistence, a smart-working effort rightly planned and rightly performed in a timely, efficient, and effective manner to attain a result that is pure and of the highest quality of excellence.”

I will pause here while you make the conscious choice to stop reading and decide that perfectionism worked all those years, no point in changing now. πŸ˜‰ That’s about the response I had when I read that. I thought. “MAN! Perfectionism may be tougher on my kids, but it’s a LOT easier on me. Hmmm…kids….me….kids….me.” πŸ˜‰

Do you think Mr Scott’s definition covers every good thing you ever saw in “perfectionism”? (Hello? Did everyone leave me?? Was that an echo I heard???) I’d love to hear your thoughts – even if they involve the “s” word. (Uh – that would be “shut-up” at our house.) πŸ™‚

I find frequently, when Father removes from me a standard I had found acceptable and changes it on me, it’s harder to do it in the way of Grace and Truth. I think because He wants to make certain that I don’t – for even a hairbreadth of a second – think that this is something I can do in and of myself!!!! For His glory, for my (and my kids’) good.

6 Responses to “A Biblical Alternative to Perfectionism”
  1. Mrs. Nehemiah says:

    Hmmm, Diligence is a good thing that we are working towards,…we would like people to believe we are diligent. when we try to get the look of having been diligent without actually taking the time to be diligent. we (I) am/are using perfectionism to cover my/our hypocrisy…
    thinking “out loud”(??) feel free to correct me.

    Mrs N

  2. javadawn says:

    ??? Correct you???? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I’m still wading through my own questions. πŸ™‚

    I will sure ponder on it though, because it sounds like it might be a goodly part of the equation….part of it, for me, also has to do with when I’m so busy focused on “perfection” whether in myself or my kids, I’m too busy to deal with the “real” things of the Kingdom and am instead distracted by many things. (kwim?)

  3. Mrs. Nehemiah says:

    for me I think its like I have a picture of what life “should” be like, and this picture was not formed by a Biblical Worldview. my picture is a paint-by-numbers canvas, and I won’t allow myself to stray from the pre-printed lines and numbers. Even with Father whispering in my ear abou the kind of painting we really want to make.

    Mrs N

  4. javadawn says:

    Mrs N. I understand completely. There are so many things that seem like they’re written in stone in my life that the Lord is just shaking and spinning around. And yet…. and yet, I hold fast to them, sometimes with both hands, out of fear of letting them go. Sometimes that fear is nothing more than the fear of the unknown of it all. 😦

  5. Homestead says:

    It is fun to run across someone else who is thinking about what Perfectionism.

    I enjoyed looking up these two words you were talking about in the 1828 Dictionary.

    These are the parts that I found most interesting.

    PER’FECT, a. [L. perfectus, perficio, to complete; per and facio, to do or make through, to carry to the end.]

    1. Finished; complete; consummate; not defective; having all that is requisite to its nature and kind; as a perfect statue; a perfect likeness; a perfect work; a perfect system.

    3. Complete in moral excellencies.

    PERFEC’TION, n. [L. perfectio.] The state of being perfect or complete, so that nothing requisite is wanting; as perfection in an art or science; perfection in a system of morals.

    3. Moral perfection, is the complete possession of all moral excellence, as in the Supreme Being; or the possession of such moral qualities and virtues as a thing is capable of.

    PERFEC’TIONIST, n. One pretending to perfection; an enthusiast in religion.

    DILIGENCE, n. [L., to love earnestly; to choose.]

    1. Steady application in business of any kind; constant effort to accomplish what is undertaken; exertion of body or mind without unnecessary delay or sloth; due attention; industry; assiduity.

    It would seem to me that perfection is a process that requires diligence. But that it is not something achieved by “One pretending to perfection;” But instead by a “steady application in business of any kind.”

    Thus if diligence is the process, then perfect diligence is the perfect process to perfection. What I mean is… I do not think that becoming perfect is measured in mistakes or even in successes, but instead in a person’s diligence to continue in the process. Thus it is impossible for one person to point finger at another and judge how perfect they are. Processes are so personal. In the end if a person learns from their mistakes then it is a perfect process, of an imperfect person, on the path to perfection.

    Too often women can get caught up in their imperfection, and dwell on their mistakes. Without resolution. Many times the older generations of women will turn to the solution of striving to solve in their offspring the mistakes that they themselves made. This is the source of much conflict. If these older women could just forgive them selves for their imperfections then they could see that it was their very mistakes that gave them greater understanding into how to be more perfect. They can see the process for what it is, and step back and appreciate the process. Rather then always trying to save younger generations from the very experiences of failure or trials that are part of the process of perfection.

    Perfection is a process; it is a process of accepting what we do wrong, seeing what we can do better, and moving on. For an older woman it is only damaging to dwell on their own weaknesses and mistakes, then reflecting all of their weakness on another younger lady, and trying to save that lady from herself. This is not on the road to perfection and borders on PERFEC’TIONIST, n. One pretending to perfection; an enthusiast in religion.

    Sorry so long…

  6. javadawn says:

    Jeanine, Please don’t apologize!! Excellent pondering! I appreciate you sharing it with me, very much!

    “…it is impossible for one person to point finger at another and judge how perfect they are. Processes are so personal. In the end if a person learns from their mistakes then it is a perfect process, of an imperfect person, on the path to perfection.”

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