In HOPE

  In HOPE 6.8                                  back to home                        David Timms

Ministry Resource

Henri Nouwen's Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life (Image Books, 1975: 165 pages) urges us to move from loneliness to solitude (with self), from hostility to hospitality (with others), and from illusion to prayer (with God) as the key movements in the Christian spiritual journey. 

 Hope Happenings

This past Friday evening (March 3), a long-time friend and servant of the University - Thelma Laster - crossed over to be with the Lord. Thelma battled pancreatic cancer for the past 2 years. Her memorial service was yesterday morning, Wednesday, March 8. Any gifts to the University in her honor will become scholarships for students in the Graduate Ministry program or Marriage, Family, and Therapy program.

 

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831

 

"Perfectionism is one of the deadliest sins in the book for resurrection communities." (Eugene Peterson)


Perfect Sinners

Perfectionists consider themselves a blessing to the world. Without them, standards would be low, productivity would be minimal, and chaos would reign. I know. I'm a recovering perfectionist. But our justification for this obsessive behavior does not survive under the scrutiny of the gospel. Far from being a blessing, perfectionism is a blight.

One of the mantras of my youth included: "If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing properly." The term "properly" usually carried the overtones of "precisely." But I quickly learned that people responded very favorably to high volumes of work achieved in a precise manner. Precision and "perfection" received loud affirmation, and proved addictive. 

Many of us have been down this pathway. But the journey exhausts us and leaves us isolated. While people applaud outstanding efforts, our drive for high performance makes us impervious to authentic intimacy.

Perhaps the most sinister aspect of perfectionism is that our pursuit of the flawless veneer makes us incapable of admitting (and thus dealing with) our sin.

The perfectionist's fear of inadequacy, incompetence, or failure makes it tremendously difficult to genuinely accept sin ... in ourselves or in others. We are not oblivious to our flaws. We detest them. But we'd never go public. And, since every other success in our lives has been wrought by our own skillful abilities, we assume we can deal with sin the same way. Fiercely independent.

That independence leaves us often without friends, without family, without forgiveness, and without love.

A paradox of perfectionism is this: Those whose lives are most perfectly competent are often least able to receive grace for themselves or impart grace to others. The perfect life - by human standards - therefore becomes the perfect innoculation to the gospel.

We may issue loud cries of protest. Some folk will argue strongly the merits of excellence. We want to deny the links between legalism and perfectionism. But this malady of the Christian community anaesthetizes us to grace and inhibits meaningful relationships based on mutual brokenness. We can't love or be loved when our lives are performance-based.

The most authentic community comprises the fellowship of the beaten and broken. Respectability, status, and image-consciousness are wedges not glue between us.

In the Kingdom ... Blessed are the poor, not the perfect. Blessed are the wounded, not the wonderful. Blessed are the crying, not the competent. Blessed are those who struggle, not those who soar.  

In HOPE - that our recovery will one day be complete.

David

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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.

For back issues of In HOPE, see http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/