“The armor we use to try to protect ourselves.” This is how researcher and author, Brené Brown refers to perfectionism. It’s the thought that, if I can be perfect enough, if I can say just the right thing, if I can be attractive enough, smart enough, productive enough, wealthy enough, then I can protect myself.
But nowhere in the Bible are we encouraged to be perfect. Instead, the Bible promises us perfection, both perfection now (2 Corinthians 5:21) and future perfection (Revelation 21:3–4), as a free gift of God’s grace, so that we will be free from perfectionism.
Perfectionism is a struggle many professionals in the workplace face, but last spring, Blakely Jacobs, a project coordinator for Rausch Coleman Homes, saw her outlook on work and perfectionism transformed as she began to engage in the Workmatters Institute.
“I kept my faith and work separate from one another. People knew I was a believer and regularly attended/served in my church, but I kept the work I did separate from Jesus. I had the mindset of ‘Jesus can have every part of my life, but I’ll keep work in a box for myself to control how I see fit’. I truly never thought that my faith and my work could co-exist until WMI.”
Control. Something we don’t ever want to admit is an idol of ours. Controlling the situation at work or home, how other people see or feel about us, we do it all the time and everywhere. As she worked through class, reading the weekly lessons and discussing with her breakout group, Blakely reflected even deeper, uncovering the root cause of her need for control – perfectionism.
“While going through the institute, I realized that I struggled with being a perfectionist in every way possible. If I made a mistake, it felt like the end of the world, and I would never allow myself grace for any sort of failure.” We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
“I felt that my worth as an employee and an individual was dependent on being perfect,” Blakely said. “But then, through class, I was reminded that Jesus never asked us to be perfect. It’s an unachievable goal that never yields anything but disappointment and heartache. I was never meant to carry the burden of being perfect when the only person on Earth who had been was Jesus Himself. The moment I realized this truly felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.”
Imagine letting go of the chains of perfectionism and control and being able to be who God truly called us to be and in turn, receiving the gifts for following his lead. In Matthew 25:23, the Lord says, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Jesus never asked us to be perfect, good and faithful is how we are called.
Blakely now says that instead of striving to be perfect, she lives each day at work striving to be like Jesus. “I remind myself that each day is made new by God’s mercy and grace. I am constantly asking Jesus to go before me and create a path for me to follow rather than trying to create my own and end up running in the wrong direction.”
“I want everyone to know the love of Jesus and how He has changed my life in every aspect,” she said. “We live in a world marred by brokenness. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in our own work that we forget what our real mission in life is. Our mission is to share Jesus with those around us and to be His hands and feet. Our work and our faith don’t have to be separate and shouldn’t be. When we get out of our own way and allow ourselves to completely follow Jesus, the trajectory of lives all around us have the ability to be changed.”
Let Blakely’s story be a reminder to us all this week:
- Jesus never asked us to be perfect.
- Ask Jesus to go before you and create a path for you to follow.
- Our mission is to share Jesus with those around us and to be His hands and feet.
Blakely is one of hundreds of WMI alumni who have had their life transformed through the institute over the last 10 years. Don’t wait to experience transformation of your own, join us this September for our next cohort.