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The Cost of Perfection: 5 Ways You Are Paying the Price

Perfectionism comes from a good place; you want to do your best because of how deeply you care. It is a beautiful thing to care so deeply, but a heart grows heavy when it carries too much weight. If this is something you can relate to, take a few deep breaths and give away the need to make everyone happy and everything perfect.

I know a lot of people who take pride in their perfectionism. I know this because I used to be one of them. Maybe you have said phrases such as “Nothing went wrong; it was amazing,” “Everything went perfect,” or “Things went exactly as they were supposed to.” Even when I said those things, I was left feeling incomplete. No matter how awesome things went, I still felt like something was missing, and I could not figure out why. 

Some people feel pressured to be perfect by their jobs or families. You may believe you need to host the most flawless event, get straight A’s, and never mess up. Or maybe everything just has to look perfect. No one on the outside could tell, but the day was a disaster, but you would never let it show. There is a point to being professional, but it is another story to think you can't be honest and reach out for help. It’s draining and isolating, striving for perfectionism. 

We can mess up, ask for help, and still be a good leader. Leaders aren’t perfect. The best leaders make mistakes all the time because they are not afraid to make mistakes, even if that means they are not that impressive.

What is the cost of this so-called perfectionism? 

  1. It’s exhausting: There is nothing wrong with planning and working hard to make sure everything goes the best that it can. Some things are worth planning, and ministry (or whatever your calling is) is one of them. However, we can’t plan for everything, and we will never be able to make everyone happy. It is not our job to fix every problem and attend to every need; it is our job to lead and empower others to fix their own issues, but you can’t force them to do so. Stop exhausting yourself for poor reasons. Let yourself off the hook. Things go wrong, and no matter how perfect you strive to be, that will always be the case. 

  2. You get so distracted by perfectionism that you forget about holiness: Romans 12:1 says, "Christians must worship God by offering their “bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” The Bible makes it clear we should strive for holiness. Holiness is choosing to walk in the path of God rather than the path of sin. Holiness is not perfection. The tech can fail on a Sunday morning, your best lead volunteer can get sick, and the worship can still be holy. Holiness is not measured by things going right but by a heart posture of surrendering to God. So the next time you want to say “Everything went perfect,” replace it with “Everything went holy” and see if it is still true. Perfectionism, without meaning, can take humanity away from the church. 

  3. You put all the pressure on your shoulders instead of trusting God. God wants to help us; he wants us to put our faith in him so we can see all that he can do. Not when you made it happen but when God made it happen. When God made it happen with no money, no connections, or no fame. How can He move if we never stop? Sometimes, our strive for accomplishment gets in the way of God being able to work.  

  4. You can put the Holy Spirit in a box: The Holy Spirit can work no matter how many things go wrong. Why do we think the Holy Spirit can only move if we perform big enough? Really, it stems from a lack of trust in the Spirit, so we assume a false sense of responsibility. The Holy Spirit is bigger than our egos. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” The Holy Spirit lives in us; therefore, it starts with us.

5. You are afraid to fail: I mentioned above that the best leaders fail all the time. We need to encourage others to fail more. Failure means you tried something new; failure means you gave something a shot. Trying and failing is something to be admired, not something to be embarrassed about. You would physically cringe at the first few graphic designs I made for my church almost ten years ago. To this day, I look and laugh at them to see how far I have come. If they had not let me be bad, I would have never grown to be good. Now, I design professional book covers and ministry content because I allowed myself to learn. Don't be afraid to be terrible at something; it is not worth the cost. And keep scrolling if you want to see one of my first graphic designs. 

God, I pray the next time the plans go wrong, we remember what You say about us and the work we are doing. I pray we don't let the disappointment of imperfection turn us bitter but instead lead us to rely on you. Amen.

The main verse from my book Bad Reviews is Galatians 1:10, which says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." The book focuses on coping with rejection in a godly way. If you believe it is something that can help you, you can order here: 

From roughly 2015, made on pages.


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