10 Reasons Perfectionism Will Hurt Your Ministry

perfectionist leadership

I’m a perfectionist. I admit it, but I don’t like it. What I’ve learned over the years is that my perfectionism has hurt my ministry. If you’re a perfectionist, here’s why that trait will likely hurt your ministry, too.

1. You’ll never be perfect yourself. You know that, but those of us who are perfectionists live as if we don’t. We know we’ll mess up, but then we beat ourselves up continually for doing so.

2. The people you lead will never be perfect. Even Jesus’ disciples were hardly perfect. They struggled. They argued. They failed. If you’re a perfectionist, your church members will always disappoint you.

3. You’ll spend much of your time cleaning up somebody else’s work. That’s what perfectionists do: Even when we invite others to help, we follow behind them to make sure they do things the way we wanted.

4. You’ll risk not using your gifts to their fullest. Whatever your gifts are, it’s tough to use them fully when you’re always doing everything else that others should be doing.

5. You’ll fail to lead a 1 Corinthians 12 church. A 1 Corinthians 12 church is made up of believers with different gifts, all finding their place in the church. If everybody must be like you and meet your standards, your church will miss this beautiful mix.

6. You won’t allow others to grow in their faith. To put it simply, perfectionists don’t have much patience with people who take their time learning how to walk with God, how to serve Him fully and how to do all things well.

7. You’ll have a tendency to lose your focus on grace. Grace, by definition, assumes failure that we perfectionists don’t like. Frankly, perfectionism and legalism can go hand-in-hand.

8. You’ll keep your struggles to yourself. That’s the only real option for people who must get it right all the time. Genuine accountability takes perfectionists into territory they don’t like.

9. You’ll likely lose sleep. People who don’t always strive for perfection (that is, like some church members) get in the way of perfectionists reaching their goals—and keep us awake at night in frustration.

10. Perfectionism is idolatry. That’s the bottom line for me. If I expect myself to get everything perfectly right, I place myself in the position of God. That’s nothing less than blatant sin.

If you’re a perfectionist, how has that trait affected your ministry?   

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Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.

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