“But Mom, I can’t be perfect!”
My 10-year-old frequently responds with this phrase when I point out his shortcomings. Like forgetting to bring his lunch box to the kitchen when he gets home from school or misplacing his reading glasses or absentmindedly arguing with me when I tell him to turn off the TV.
I haven’t asked him to be perfect, just to correct one small aspect of his behavior.
In fact, I often tell my children nobody is perfect and point out my own faults and failures when appropriate.
But he seems to be paralyzed by his lack of perfection. It discourages him from even trying to improve.
And I have been there, too.
I’m never going to tackle this mess on my desk, so why not add a few more papers to the pile.
I’m never going to have the body I’d like to, so I may as well eat that second piece of cake.
I’m never going to tame my anger, so I’ll just quit practicing those breathing techniques.
Holding ourselves to a self-imposed standard of perfection has the potential to drag us into defeat. Thinking we have to be perfect can keep us from even trying to improve.
Dwelling on our defects often leads to discouragement.
But there is hope. And help.
To defeat discouragement, pursue progress not perfection.
Just as my job is to lead and guide my own children to progress through childhood to adulthood, God has given His children a Helper in the Holy Spirit.
We are called to become more like Him, but we won’t be perfected until Jesus comes again.
We should be more concerned with taking steps in the right direction than arriving at our final destination. If we constantly focus on how much further we have to go, we might not even take the first step.
We owe our perfection to Jesus and our progress to His Holy Spirit.
The progress we make as Christians to overcome trials and temptations becomes our testimony to convince others of the power of God at work in our lives.
We can be honest about our imperfections. We can focus on making progress. We can point others to the source of our progression. We can set a good example for others to follow.
But we don’t have to be perfect.
In our verse of the day, Paul was advising Timothy on how to approach his new ministry. The older man advised his protege to be diligent in his doctrine, to show care and conscientiousness in his work and duties. Timothy was to absorb himself in good doctrine so that those he ministered to would see his progress. Paul didn’t say to be perfect because he knew that we would wrestle with our flesh continuously (Romans 7:15-20).
In this life we will struggle, but by adhering to good Biblical teaching and submitting to the work of the Spirit in our lives, we will make progress.
Verse of the Day: Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. (1 Timothy 4:15)
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that I don’t have to get everything right. I praise you for the gift of your Son by whose blood I will be made perfect at His second coming. I pray for the Holy Spirit to lead me in the persistent pursuit of progress in this life. Keep my mind and heart from all discouragement. In Jesus’ most Holy and Precious name. Amen.
Author: Liz Giertz