Three Taverns Church

Fire Your Perfectionism


Dear Mr. Perfectionism,

When I first hired you more than twenty years ago I thought I’d made a brilliant move. You seemed like the perfect choice: A person who hates making mistakes and works as hard as he can to avoid them. It turns out I was mistaken. Hiring you was one of the worst decisions I ever made. Luckily, as of today I no longer have to live with that mistake. Mr. Perfectionism: You’re fired.

The trouble with you is that your perfectionist attitudes and actions were never really about heightened performance; you were never really concerned with the health of this business. Rather, what you were worried about was how people perceived you. When I fired your friend Mr. Insecurity the other day, I told him something very similar. You are both so wrapped up in, and dependent upon, the perceptions of others for self-worth that you will sacrifice anything to earn their approval. In your case, you were ever-prepared to sacrifice the process for the result. You didn’t care how much suffering you inflicted on this company or its clients in a given business endeavor as long as it resulted in a ‘win’ for you. You thought these ‘wins’ made you valuable and worthy in the eyes of those around you, but what you failed to grasp was that most people are at least as concerned with the process as they are with the result. Furthermore, your constant need for perfection in your thoughts, words, and actions actually made you far less effective in your work than many of your peers. Your obsession with detail correctness in every aspect of your life made you slow and inefficient. You were afraid to take risks because of the possibility of failure. Unfortunately that translated into fewer promotion opportunities for you.

You see, Mr. Perfectionism, life really is a journey; it’s not just a destination. I know how cliché that sounds, but it’s true. The moments we live out on a day-to-day basis are at least as important as the goals we work towards, maybe even more so. When your life draws to a close I suspect you’ll be less concerned with what you did with your life, and far more concerned with how you lived it.

Consider the life of Jesus Christ, the man I am replacing you with. According to your perfectionist standards Jesus’ life was a disaster: Tried and convicted as a criminal, He was beaten and crucified. If life is judged by outcomes alone, Mr. Perfectionist, Jesus’ life was a complete failure. However, it’s the way Jesus lived His life that is important: He was completely obedient to His Father in everything He did; throughout His day-to-day life Jesus never sinned; He was always as concerned about how He reached the end of His life as He was about the end result itself. And for this, a life perfectly lived, Jesus was raised from the dead. That is the kind of lasting and winning attitude I want to define this company!

Goodbye, Mr. Perfectionism. I hope you can learn to live at peace with failure and the disappointment and disapproval of others. It is the only way to truly live.

16 thoughts on “Fire Your Perfectionism

  1. “And for this, a life perfectly lived, He was raised from the dead”…is THAT why Jesus was raised from the dead? I’ve never heard that before! That sounds like a reward for works statement…like Jesus earned His resurrection by living perfectly. Can you expound on that a little?

    • Yes, I believe Jesus’ sinlessness and his complete obedience to God is what allowed Him to be raised. Can you find a Scripture verse that refutes that statement? Note that I’m NOT saying you and I can earn salvation with our works, but we CAN receive salvation through the work already done by Christ.

  2. “And for THIS, a life perfectly lived, Jesus was raised from the dead”…I’ve never heard this statement before. It sounds like yore saying that Jesus earned the right to be raised from the dead because He lived perfectly. That sounds like a works mentality statement. Can you expound on this?

    • Hebrews 9:14 (NIV)
      How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”
      Hebrews 2:17 (NIV)
      For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”
      Hebrews 9:26 (NIV)
      Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

  3. Can you show the scripture(s) that supports your statement? Then There would be no need for refutation. Thank you.

  4. No, because you made the original statement.

  5. Hello RM. I cannot see how your scripture references support your statements “And for this, a life perfectly lived, He was raised from the dead” and “Yes, I believe Jesus sinlessness and his complete obedience to God is what allowed Him to be raised”.

    I contend that Jesus was not raised from the dead BECAUSE of His life perfectly lived. God the Father did not “allow” him to be raised BECAUSE He lived a sinless and completely obedient life.

    I believe that Jesus (God the Son) and God the Father, with the God the Holy Spirit agreed before the beginning of time to send Jesus into Time to be the redemptive sacrifice of Love to bring mankind back into full relationship with God. Adam had broken that relationship through disobedience. Jesus agreed to die on the cross to restore this relationship. God knew that only a perfect human could accomplish that task—and Jesus was the only one who could qualify from the get go.

    Is. 9:6-7 tells us of Jesus predetermined destiny: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”.

    This declaration could not be fulfilled if Jesus wasn’t going to rise from the dead after His sacrificial human death. And this was the prophetic word about His human birth.

    I offer Col.1:13-20 as further evidence of Jesus mission and pre-approval by God. His rising from the dead was not a reward for good behavior. No, He was sent and born sinless and assigned to demonstrate power over sin AND death for humans.

    “He (God the Father) has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”

    Acts 2: 23-24: “‘Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, BECAUSE IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE THAT HE SHOULD BE HELD BY IT. (emphasis added)

    1Peter 1:18-21, 23: “…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was FOREORDAINED BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD (emphasis added), but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, SO THAT YOUR FAITH AND HOPE ARE IN GOD (emphasis added)…. (you) Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but INCORRUPTIBLE (emphasis added), THROUGH THE WORD OF God which Iives and abides forever.”.

    Jesus’ reward was to bring as many humans as possible into the Kingdom of God. God raised Jesus from the dead as a sign and a wonder to convince people that what Jesus was telling them about His Father (God) was true.

    John 11:23-26: “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’. Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’.Jesus said to her, ‘I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE (emphasis added). he who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?'”

    What do you think?

    • I think we’ll have to agree to disagree, but thanks for the thorough response.

    • Sorry, but I must also say this: in my “Fire Your Perfectionism” letter, I am publishing a Step 7 letter whereby I am ‘firing’ each of my character defects. I’m trying to take a humorous approach in each letter, which I hope will bring a smile to those who read them. Having said that, the tone of each letter is also conversational, as if I were speaking to a real person.

      These are not theological treatises; they are recovery program homework. If I did make a misstatement (as I suspect we all do from time to time) I would expect grace and understanding. To be honest, what I see in your comments is a need to control my theology. It feels to me like you think you’ve ‘caught’ me in a mistake and are going to keep driving your point home until I capitulate.

      If I had given a sermon on the death of Jesus Chris and made a statement like the one I made in this ‘letter’, I would expect those who heard the sermon to raise theological questions. However, this ‘letter’ is, again, Step 7 work; it is not a sermon or intended in any way to be taken as any kind of research paper into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

      In short, Ian, I’ve been struggling with your response because they feel ‘wrong’ to me…they are out of context and proportion to the genre and tone of this particular piece of writing.

      What do you think?

  6. Hi RM—
    My response has nothing to do with wanting to control your theology. My response to your statement about Jesus was a counter-balance response. You are still free to express whatever you believe about Jesus. I am aware that perhaps many others are reading your blog and gleaning a sense of who Jesus is at the same time. After all, you are firing a lot of employees and replacing them ALL with one individual, Jesus Christ. So who HE is, becomes important. I am merely offering a different understanding of who Jesus is and giving scriptures to back up my view, as you requested. I agree that my response is lengthy due to inclusion of the scriptures. I wrote them out instead of just listing them because I think most readers will not look them up. Perhaps they won’t even read it because it LOOKS too long.

    Aren’t we just all doing the best we can?

  7. Is there a protocol for “length” on a blog? I agree with Ian, that many readers will not check out bible verses that are referenced only. What IS the “perfect” answer? Maybe you fired Mr. Perfectionism too soon! 🙂

  8. Yes you did but I wasn’t responding to that compliment. I was responding to your word “proportion” Rabid mongoose, as in “proportion to the genre….” I guess I don’t know what you meant by that. I thought you were talking about length of response. I wonder if there are guidelines for bloggers and their responders. I’ll google it.

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