Thursday, October 11, 2007

Are You a Perfectionist?

The following is a partial list of the false and unrealistic assumptions and expectations which contribute to the trap of the perfectionist spirit. Obviously, these attitudes must be changed through the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2) if permanent healing is to take place.


1. I should be liked, approved of, and loved by everybody, especially those important to me.
2. I should be able to do anything and everything perfectly; if I cannot, it’s better not to do it at all, or wait until I can. In other words, I will procrastinate in doing anything until I am convinced I can do it perfectly.
3. I must be perfectly confident and successful before I can consider myself to be a worthwhile person, or before others can consider me to be worthwhile.
4. I really do not have control over my own happiness. My happiness is dependent upon the actions of others and what they think of me, or upon circumstances.
5. The experiences and adverse influences that have occurred in my past cannot be changed, and are therefore ever a part of me, my present, and my future.
6. There is only one true and perfect solution for every problem; therefore, until I find it, I am in despair.
7. I should be able to make and keep everyone around me totally happy; if I don’t, there is obviously something wrong with me.
8. It is my personal responsibility to right the wrongs of this world, to solve its problems, and to correct all of its injustices.
9. Because I did not achieve all of my goals in life, I will always be less than acceptable as a person.
10. Because I have never been able to fully please my parents, friends, and/or peers, I must be less than desirable and worthwhile as a person.
11. I will never be able to be a happy person knowing what (I think) others think about me.
12. Had I been more competent in the care of my father, mother, dog, etc., they would never have died, divorced, or been unhappy in any way.
13. I am totally responsible for the reactions and responses of other people toward me.


1. Others, especially those I consider important to me, should always take care of me, be kind to me, and never frustrate me.
2. Others, especially those important to me, should be able to read my mind and know what I need and want without my telling them. If they can’t or don’t do this, it is because they really do not like or love me.
3. There is no way that people could accept me with all of my imperfections. It is therefore impossible for them to love me. It is therefore impossible for me to love myself. It is therefore impossible for me to love anyone else. I told you I was imperfect!
4. I am afraid of permanent relationships due to my in-ability to be perfect in those relationships. If I cannot be perfect in the relationships that I desire so much, it would probably be better for me not to have any at all, or to wait until I can be perfect in a relationship.
5. No relationship can be successful unless it is perfect in all ways. Therefore, if others do not act perfectly toward me, it is because they do not really want a true relationship with me.


1. God only accepts and loves me when He can approve of everything that I am, think, feel, say, and do.
2. God may accept me in Christ, but only because He has to according to His character. Otherwise, He would be sick at His stomach over me.
3. God may possibly accept me as I am, but only if in the future I will never think, feel, say, or do anything wrong again.
4. God saves by His grace, but only maintains this relationship with me if I read, pray, witness, serve, and do enough for Him.
5. God holds my ultimate salvation in suspense. At the Great White Throne judgment He will determine whether I will be given eternal life in heaven. God’s acceptance and love for me is only as a result of my being able to live in total obedience to everything that He has told me to do.
6. God is perfect. He wants me to be perfect. Therefore, if I cannot achieve perfection, I am unacceptable in His sight. If this continues, I will ultimately give up trying. Why serve a God that you can never please?

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Bino B. Manjasseril said...

This insight was a surprise to me! I have this problem particularly in the area of attitude towards me and others. And now I started realizing that this is a preoccupation with the exalted view of self which is nothing but pride. I thank God for showing me this truth.
I started seeing some pressure off. What a relief it is. I have put many people around me under lot of pressure to do/act/say/drive/clean/cook/teach/learn/minister/work/study/eat and everything perfectly. That is a spirit of controlling others.
It is ugly. Thank God for showing this truth to me. It is relieving, liberating... aaahhh...

Gary Kirkham said...


Thanks for sharing that. It has been a while since I have poked around Bob's website. I didn't know they had revamped it.

I can definitely see myself in there to some degree. In the past my happiness has depended upon my circumstances and keeping those around me happy. That is a roller coaster ride. Over time God has been showing me that my happiness and joy comes from Him. Sometimes I take my eyes off of Him and fall back into my old ways, but praise God that I don't have to stay there.

I think that the perfectionist spirit can be manifested when we share the message of grace. We can get frustrated when others can't see what we see or even actively oppose the message. It's important to remember that we know the grace of God because God has revealed it to us and only then after He has prepared our hearts to receive it. Those around us may be slow to understand, or may never see, the light of God's grace, but I think that until they do we need to show them the grace that we are preaching.

In Christ,

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

"We can get frustrated when others can't see what we see or even actively oppose the message. It's important to remember that we know the grace of God because God has revealed it to us and only then after He has prepared our hearts to receive it."

Thanks Gary for these words... In fact I am in a very similar situation now. Sometimes I wonder why don't they get it! I keep forgetting it was God showed that message to me. I started learning some patience now. It's all part of growing in grace.

I remember you telling in another post that unless we travel in the valley of legalism/performance for a while it's difficult to come to the mountain top of total grace.

We need to come to the end of our rope...

Yes it a process.. a journey...

Thanks again.