All our lives we need to seek balance—balance between work and play and family, our needs and the needs of others, wealth accumulation and generosity, pride and humility, criticism and praise, conflict and peacemaking.
One of the most important life balances to think through is how to aim high, to drive yourself, to achieve big things, but yet not torment yourself with becoming perfectionistic. Perfectionists are hard on people and on themselves—nothing is ever good enough. It’s hard for them to praise other people because they see all the flaws too clearly, and those flaws spoil any sense of celebration or gratitude. In their minds if they fail to be perfect, they are failures.
It’s a lie to think you have to be perfect before you can like yourself. Be realistic: “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). You carry around sinful brokenness and limitations in your thinking, willpower, and capacity. It is the forgiveness that Jesus has bought for you that frees you from the terrible pressure to achieve your own worth by yourself.
Knowing that you are loved and forgiven unconditionally means that you are set free to serve God and serve other people. You can celebrate what you’ve achieved today and let go of unfinished business for tomorrow. You can clap and cheer for other people’s achievements, knowing how much they’ve overcome, without nitpicking their shortcomings.
Only God is perfect, after all.