Perfectionism can take many forms. Whether blatant or subtle, perfectionism can be deadly; especially to a Christian life. As Amy Baker puts it in Picture Perfect: When Life Doesn’t Line Up, the perfect God becomes the god of perfection.
Baker does a wonderful job, through teaching and vignettes, of portraying the characteristics and experiences of those struggling with perfectionism (or perfectionistic tendencies for those who may be in denial). As someone who deals with this fight on a daily basis, Picture Perfect nailed the topic.
Here are a few “trademark characteristics” for you to consider (pp 8-9):
- You want to be the best in everything you do.
- You have very high expectations of yourself and others.
- You are very upset with yourself if you make a mistake.
- You feel guilty for relaxing. You fee like you are never doing enough.
- You’re very particular about the details of tasks.
- When you perform well, you analyze your performance for weak spots and quickly gloss over the things done right.
- You want something done right or not done at all.
- You are perceived by others as a role model.
- You feel like others are never satisfied by your performance.
- You compare yourself to others. I you perceive someone is better than you, you analyze that person to see how to measure up.
- You don’t attempt things you know you can’t complete with excellence.
- You are frightened by the thought of failure.
- You procrastinate.
- Your relationships are often strained or difficult.
- You feel like you won’t ever be perfect.
- You rarely experience joy.
There are but a few of the potential feelings of perfectionism. Baker points out that “The list identifies some traits that are positive, but it also points out characteristics associated with perfectionism that are clearly troublesome. Traits that make it hard to love God and to love others” (p 9).
The book does an excellent job of not only describing the problems with perfectionism, but also examining them under the heart microscope of the gospel. Once light is shown on the issues, Baker goes on to prescribe Christ, in who He is and what He has accomplished and is accomplishing in us, as the solution to this terrorizing issue.
Whether you are a hardcore perfectionist, a defeated perfectionist, someone with subtle perfectionistic tendencies, or uncertain if you even fit the bill, this is a valuable book to read.