In Pursuit Of Perfection

I remember a few years ago, I stepped up to the mic to lead a worship song. I opened my mouth, and completely forgot the words. I fumbled my way through the first verse and went on to massacre the second. Eventually, I had to turn around and check the screen behind me for the lyrics. I laughed it off in the moment, but found that I was still kicking myself over it hours – even days – later. “I know that song! Forwards, backwards, sideways….how did I forget the words?!?”

Fast forward to today. I am a new mom learning how to balance my home, myself, our family, and our responsibilities. Sometimes, I feel exhausted just thinking about my to-do list. I often struggle to let go and live in the moment because I “need” to maintain this image in my head of what life should look like. (Clean house, happy baby, presentable mama…)

Simply put, I do not like to mess up or feel mediocre. Few things embarrass me more. While part of it is pride rearing its ugly head, it also stems from a deep-seated fear of failure. The danger of perfectionism is something I have to constantly be reminding myself of.

Sometimes I am tempted to justify my perfectionist tendencies by using the term “excellence.” Brilliant, right?

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

A healthy desire for excellence is good, as everything we do should be for the honor and glory of God; however, perfectionism and excellence are two vastly different things. The Lord has been teaching me that worldly perfection goes hand-in-hand with legalism and pride. It is a manifestation of anxiety, based on the fear of being seen as less than ideal. 

How often do we fear our situation or status more than we trust the Lord?

This is the question God has gently placed on my heart. When we allow fear of failure to cloud our thinking, we are essentially saying, “Thanks God, but Your grace is not enough,” even though scripture has already told us His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthian’s 12:9). Perfection says, “I need to earn approval,” while grace offers it freely. We are fed the message that we must have it all together, but in truth, our weakness presents the perfect opportunity for God to display His strength.

During The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tasks us with what seems impossible: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) So how are we to be obedient in this?

The problem with perfection is that it leaves little room for the grace our salvation is hinged upon. The gist of the matter (and this is summarized from the entire sermon found in Matthew 5-7) is that the perfection God desires of us is to have a heart inclined toward Him in surrender and humility, and toward others as a compassionate helper.

Do we excel at surrender? How about humility? Compassion?

Ironically, the search for perfection causes us to feel even more dissatisfied and inadequate. It leaves us with nothing but unhealthy expectations and unnecessary anxiety, and often causes us to overlook what God is calling us to: a church fully saturated with Christ, fully relating to Christ, fully embodying Christ’s presence in the world.

Jesus, speak life into our hearts, open our eyes to Your grace, and give us freedom from the desire to be impossibly perfect. We are blessed to have a Father who patiently loves us in the midst of our shortcomings and leads us to fullness with Christ. Help us to fix our eyes on You and learn what it means to walk in Your perfection. 

“…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isiah 64:6).

“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect” (Psalm 18:32).

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26).

By Regan Kraus

Hi! I'm Regan. I'm a wife to my best friend and biggest supporter, a mama to our 2 kiddos, and a beloved daughter of Christ. This blog is a virtual invitation to coffee. Grab your favorite mug and Join me to talk marriage, motherhood, ministry, and all the life that happens in-between!


  1. Beautifully written and expressed! I struggled With perfectionism most of my adult life. Then several years ago God revealed to me the core issue was more then pride it was also a cover for shame. Somewhere in my head and heart I believed If I could keep a perfect home and make my children look and act proper then it would hide the shame I felt as a single mom. If I could host the perfect Ladies event at church or deliver the perfect talk at a conference or retreat, they would not focus on the obvious flaws (to me) of my personal life and past. You are correct that is all very exhausting!!! However grace, Gods grace… changes everything! Not sure why it took so many years for me to understand this… maybe because I never stopped long enough or was quiet enough to allow God to speak This truth to me. I am hopeful that your generation, and the crazy events of 2020 might have allowed your generation the opportunity to slow down long enough to hear and see things that it took me nearly a lifetime to understand.

    1. Yes! This year has definitely allowed a lot of time for introspection. Battling perfectionism is something I will think I’m doing well for a while, and then I’ll suddenly realize it has crept back into my life (or notice it playing out in a different way than before.), but slowing down has given me lots of time to examine its presence in my life. My word for 2021 is “finish.” I don’t want to be paralyzed by perfection when it comes to my work, art, or home! 🙂

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