Striving for Perfection

Striving for Perfection

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, we are striving for perfection which is a pattern of trying, making mistakes, repenting, and trying again. This method of striving for perfection relies on God and is based in faith.  

Each day we do our best, and as we continue to do our best, our “best” gradually becomes better.  Striving for perfection is not stagnant; it involves movement and progression in a positive direction.  It is not about arriving and staying in one place. And we don’t have to do it alone, we have a partner.  We work together with God. We are his work and his glory. He wants us to succeed. He’s delighted when we succeed.  He has prepared the way so that we can succeed.  


However, there is a counterfeit for God’s way, and like most counterfeits, it looks enough like the real thing to confuse some people.  This counterfeit is called perfectionism.  Perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence or trying to do a good job. Perfectionism only has two options: being without flaw or failure. 

Perfectionism relies on self and is based in pride and fear. There is fear of failure, fear of what other people will think, and fear of not being good enough. Perfectionism wants to stay still, it’s about trying to reach a perfect spot and holding that position.  

What does ‘perfect’ mean?

These two different methods also use different definitions of the word perfect. Perfectionism defines the word ‘perfect’ as being without flaw or mistake, while striving for perfection uses an entirely different meaning for the word ‘perfect.’  Perfect means complete, whole, finished, to be fully developed, or to reach a distant goal. This is the meaning of the word ‘perfect’ as used in the scriptures. 

Be ye therefore perfect…

To validate this point, let’s look at the famous scripture found in Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  Some people understand this to mean that we are commanded to be completely free from faults or defects, and obtain all the required or desirable qualities or characteristics that the Father has, and we’re supposed to do this right now, and be this way all the time.

However, there is some clarification of what this really means when this message is repeated, but with a slight variation, in 3 Nephi 12:48 where Jesus says, “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” 

An important distinction

The difference between the two scriptures is that in the first he did not include himself, but in the second he did.  The first scripture was given during his mortal ministry, and the second after his resurrection. In this scripture the word ‘perfect’ could not mean being without flaw or mistake, because Jesus was without flaw or mistake during his life, but he did not include himself as an example of perfection.  He only included the Father as an example of perfection.  Although he was without flaw or mistake, which is one definition of the word perfect; he was not yet complete or finished, which is the other definition of perfect. This is the kind of perfection he was talking about, the perfection of being complete and reaching a distant goal.  

When Jesus was speaking to his disciples in the New Testament, he hadn’t yet completed his mission which included the necessary atonement and resurrection. After he completed his mission and appeared in the New World as a resurrected being, he was finished and fully developed, therefore he was ‘perfect’ and he included himself in the examples of perfection.  I and my father are perfect.  

Be ye therefore perfect, eventually

If Jesus Christ himself could not attain the perfection he was talking about during his mortal life, do you think he expects us to attain perfection during this mortal life?  No. Absolutely not. We are not perfect, meaning complete or finished, until we have finished our mission on earth.  It is not possible. It is not expected. Remember the words of Elder Holland, “Be ye therefore perfect, eventually.”  This is true for every person who has lived on the earth, including the Savior himself.  

When understood correctly, the scripture, “Be ye therefore perfect,” is not a commandment to be without flaw, but is an invitation to become complete and fully developed, even like the Father.  It is a companion to His invitation, “Come follow me.” It is hopeful. It means that regardless of our current state, and all of our flaws and weaknesses, we have the potential to live with our Heavenly Father again.  And this amazing offer is made possible through faith in Jesus Christ.  

Faith and courage to move forward

Striving for perfection takes faith and relies on God.  It takes courage to believe that in spite of our weaknesses, the Savior will make up the difference, and it will be okay.  When striving for perfection we have to act, even when we don’t know everything or understand everything. It takes courage and faith to move forward.   

Different perspectives on repentance

Striving for perfection and it’s counterfeit, perfectionism, also have a very different attitudes about the process of repentance.  

When following the pattern of ‘striving for perfection’, repentance is frequent and joyful.  We’re moving forward, we’re making mistakes, and we know that’s part of the plan and it’s okay because there’s a way for those mistakes to be forgiven and we feel grateful to learn, progress, and move forward.  

When following the pattern of perfectionism, on the other hand, repentance is avoided and feels shameful.  Remember that with perfectionism, there are only two options: perfection (meaning being without flaw or mistake) and failure.  If I need to repent, then that obviously means that I made a mistake, so I failed. In other words, repentance is seen as a sign of failure.  It is a last resort, to be avoided if possible. Instead, we pretend we’re perfect, hide our flaws, and try to do everything ourselves, and fix everything ourselves.  Perfectionism relies on self.      

Striving for Perfection

Definition of perfect: complete, whole, finished, fully, developed.  To reach a distant end.

  • Relies on God
  • Based in faith and courage
  • Pattern of trying, making mistakes, repenting and trying again
  • Repentance is frequent and joyful


Definition of perfect: Being without flaw or mistake

  • Relies on self
  • Based in pride and fear
  • Pattern is that there are only two options: perfection or failure
  • Repentance is avoided and shameful

Perfectionism inhibits attaining perfection

Perfectionism actually holds us back from attaining actual perfection.  Perfectionism can lead to several limiting actions:

  • It can prevent us from moving forward
  • It makes us give up easily 
  • It can lead to being critical and judgmental

Perfectionism prevents us from moving forward

First, perfectionism can block us from acting and moving forward.  We want to be perfect, which means we can’t make a mistake, so we want to know everything and understand everything before we act.  But it’s pretty hard to really know everything and understand everything, so we shut down and don’t start at all.  I don’t think I can do it perfectly, so why try? Or I know I’m just going to fail, so why try? It’s much safer to stay here.  Remember perfectionism believes perfection is a place, like a magic circle, and we don’t want to risk doing anything where we might step outside of the circle.  

Perfectionism leads to giving up

Sometimes perfectionism shows itself in giving up.  We try and then fail, and then quit.  We don’t want to risk failing twice. Some people believe that forgiveness is limited.  I can be forgiven if I make a mistake once, but if I make the same mistake again, then it’s game over. 

This isn’t what the Savior taught about forgiveness. When the apostle Peter asked how many times we should forgive our neighbor and suggested what he thought was a generous and ridiculously high number of seven, Jesus taught that seven wasn’t high enough.  He said seventy times seven which was symbolic meaning there is no limit, but even if you want to be literal, that means that we are allowed to be forgiven four hundred ninety times for the same mistake. The opposite of perfectionism is trying, failing, repenting, forgiving ourselves, and trying again.  

We are allowed to forgive ourselves, we are supposed to forgive ourselves.  Forgiving ourselves demonstrates faith in our Savior. Not forgiving ourselves demonstrates pride, fear, and doubt.  It is an indication of the attitude, “I will do it myself or not at all” or “Jesus may be powerful and all that, but he isn’t powerful enough to save me.”  This may sound strange and even offensive when you say it out loud, but there are a lot of people who are thinking that inside their minds. 

Perfectionism leads to criticism and comparing

Perfectionism can also lead to being critical and judgmental.  This can come from two different levels. On the one hand, if I’m feeling like someone else is doing a better job than me, I may want to justify myself by searching for ways to tear them down so they’re not above me.  If I’m not perfect, then you can’t be perfect either.

This is like the crab in a pot analogy. You may have heard that if you put one crab in a pot, the crab can climb out of the pot and get away, but if you put two crabs in a pot then neither of them can get away because if one starts to climb then the other will pull him back.  So if we’re being a crab in a pot, and we’re feeling jealous of someone else, then the natural response is to be critical and judgmental about that person so that, at least in our minds, they’re still on the same level that we are.  

There’s another direction that perfectionism can lead to being critical and judgmental and that is when we think that we are better than somebody else.  Because of our superior position, we get to point out everybody else’s flaws so that they can fix them. 

Relying on self vs relying on God

Just FYI, nobody likes or appreciates being judged or criticized, but nevertheless, some people feel very justified in their criticism and judgment. They sincerely believe they’re pleasing God and doing people a favor by criticizing and judging other people’s flaws.  This goes back to a basic premise of perfectionism, which is relying on yourself. People who are following the method of perfectionism believe, “It’s my job to be perfect, and it is my job to perfect those around me.”  

Striving for perfection, on the other hand, relies on God.  We trust that God will help other people on their journey to perfection.  The truth is, that it is not my job or your job to perfect the people around us, that belongs to God.  We can let go because we can trust that God is aware and responsible for our loved ones’ journey to perfection. The only person we need to work on, is ourselves.      

It comes so naturally

This idea of comparing ourselves to other people, whether we believe they are above us or below us, comes very naturally, but it is destructive.  I made another article about why we compare ourselves to others, the results of that comparison, and how to stop. If this is something that you struggle with, I invite you to read that article or listen to the related podcast to learn more.  

Perfectionism also comes very naturally.  It is a natural tendency of the natural man, but the scriptures say that the natural man is an enemy to God. We’re supposed to follow the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man.  In the case of perfectionism, which is very natural, there is a better way, which is God’s way.  

Patterns for ‘striving for perfection’

God’s pattern for striving for perfection is evident in the scriptures, in our lives, in the ordinances of the gospel, and in the organization of the restored Church of Jesus Christ.  The pattern is to know enough and then do; it is to try, make mistakes, repent, and try again. It is doing our best. And as we consistently do our best, then our best becomes better.  

The magic of age 8

One example is the age that the Lord set for baptism.  In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord specifies the age of 8 as the age of accountability.  It’s not an infant who doesn’t know or understand anything about Jesus Christ or his gospel yet.  It’s not on your deathbed so that you can be clean and not have any time to mess up again before you enter into heaven.  It’s not even at age 18, which is a legal adult, or 60 where you should have a pretty good handle on who you are and what you want.  The Lord set the age of 8.  

Eight years old is not old enough to know everything and understand everything, but it is old enough to know enough and to act.  An 8 year old is old enough to understand that Jesus loves them. An 8 year old is old enough to understand that she or he is a child of God.  An 8 year old is old enough to understand that Jesus Christ suffered for our sins so that we can repent. An 8 year old is old enough to understand that Jesus commanded us to be baptized and they are old enough to choose to be obedient to that commandment.  This is the pattern of striving for perfection, it is to know enough, and then to act.  

A plan that encompasses the past, present, and future

Will a child make a mistake after they’re baptized?  Undoubtedly. Is this a surprise to God? Does it catch him off guard?  No, of course not. That’s why he created a plan to take care of that. This plan not only takes care of past sins, but also future circumstances.  The cleansing power of baptism takes place once in our lives, but the cleansing power available through the gift of the Holy Ghost is continuous and lifelong.  We don’t make use of the atonement of Jesus Christ once and we’re done, it is continuous and lifelong. This is why it’s okay to follow a process of striving for perfection that involves trying, making mistakes, repenting and trying again.  The plan is already in place to take care of every mistake you’ve ever made, that you’re making now, and that you will make in the future.  

The basics are enough to begin 

Those who weren’t raised in the gospel, but found it later in life, follow the same pattern.  What do the missionaries teach? How much does a person have to know before they are allowed to be baptized?  They need to understand the same things that an 8 year who has been trained in primary understands. They need to understand that Jesus loves them and suffered for their sins.  They need to understand that he asks us to follow his commandments, including the commandment to be baptized. The missionaries teach basic principles of the gospel. Those they teach do not have to know everything or understand everything before they are allowed to be baptized.  They know enough, and they act. And that beautiful gift given through the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost is enough to take care of the past, the present, and the future. They are free to confidently and joyfully move forward in the process of trying, making mistakes, repenting and trying again, knowing that a plan in place so that everything will be okay. 

Examples of parenthood and callings

There are many more examples that demonstrate that God’s way, his plan, his method for us to achieve perfection is through a process of trying, making mistakes, repenting, and trying again.  How about parenthood? We do not know everything and understand everything about parenting before we become parents. We learn as we go. Parenthood is an ultimate example of ‘on the job training.’ 

Callings in the church are another example of the pattern of striving for perfection by knowing enough and then acting.  We are not called because we already know everything and understand everything about that calling. We believe that God calls us and then qualifies us.  We know enough and then we move forward in faith. We act, we make mistakes, we repent, and then we try again.    

The temple

I can think of at least 3 examples of God’s pattern for striving for perfection in the temple ordinance.  Lest you think that I’m being inappropriate in using the temple as an example, remember what Elder Bednar taught in General Conference.  He said that many church members are unsure about what appropriately can and cannot be said regarding the temple experience outside of the temple because the temple is a sacred place, and the ordinances in the temple are of a sacred character.  And because of its sacredness we are sometimes reluctant to say anything about the temple. He then gave us two basic guidelines, which were also emphasized by a previous president of the church, President Ezra Taft Benson, about what we can share about the temple.   

Guidelines for sharing

Guideline #1 – Because we love the Lord, we should always speak about His holy house with reverence.  We should not disclose of describe the special symbols associated with the covenants we receive in sacred temple ceremonies.  Neither should we discuss the holy information that we specifically promise in the temple not to reveal.

Guideline #2 – The temple is the house of the Lord.  Everything In the temple points us to our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We may discuss the basic purpose of and the doctrine and principles associated with temple ordinances and covenants.  

We know enough and we act

With those two principles in mind, let me share a few examples of God’s pattern for striving for perfection that are taught in the temple.  The first is in the very act of temple attendance. In the temple we are taught by words, stories, symbols, and models. With this combination of teaching methods there is a lot of information that can be condensed into a short amount of time.  We can continue to attend the temple for our entire lives and still have new things to learn. We do not know everything or understand everything. We may not ever know everything or understand everything, but we know enough to go. We know enough to move forward and act.  

Adam and Eve example #1

Another thing that we learn in the temple, which is also found in the Pearl of Great Price, is part of the story of Adam and Eve.  Adam is commanded to offer sacrifices to the Lord. He does not know everything or understand everything, but he knows enough and he moves forward in faith.  Later an angel appears and asks why he is offering sacrifices and he says, “I don’t know, I only know that the Lord commanded me to do it.” Then the angel explains that this is a type or model to teach them that our Savior Jesus Christ would be sacrificed, and that through this sacrifice we could return to God’s presence.  Adam was not taught everything at first and expected to remember it and do it perfectly. He was taught enough to move forward in faith.  

Adam and Eve example #2

This brings me to yet another example which is also about Adam and Eve.  After they partook of the fruit, but before they were driven from the garden, the Lord gave them gifts and taught them.  They did not know everything or understand everything, but they were given enough information that they could recognize whether or not a teacher was a true and authorized messenger from our Heavenly Father.  They knew enough to be ready to receive additional information when it came.  

A more personal example

The next example is even more personally applicable, since it’s not about someone else; it’s about us personally and individually.  In the temple, we model a symbolic personal journey of learning and preparing ourselves for a one-on-one interview with the Lord. We are taught that the Lord will ask us questions and that we should be prepared with answers, but there’s one question to which we are not given the answer.  That means that we are expected to show up for a personal interview with the Lord knowing that we are not fully prepared.  

At this point we do not know everything, we do not understand everything, and we’re not perfect by either definition of the word.  We’re not without flaw, because we’re unprepared for a very important interview, and we’re not complete or whole, because we’re missing vital information.  However, we’re assured that in spite of these obvious deficiencies, we know enough and we’re asked to move forward in faith. What is the result of moving forward with an absolute knowledge that we are not perfect?  Are we rejected by God? Are we kicked out? Do we fail? Or does it all turn out okay, and we’re given what we need at the moment that we need it? And through whom does this help come?  

This represents the end, the moment when we come face to face with God, and we’re not perfect, we’re not ready.  In spite of doing our best, we’re not good enough, we don’t know enough. We can’t make it on our own. It is only through the help of our God that we can again enter into his presence. 

Enough on our own? 

When we die,  we will come face to face with God, not symbolically, but for real.  And just like the model shown in the temple, we’re not going to be perfect by either definition; we won’t be without flaw, and we won’t be complete.  On our own, that is.

It is true that we can’t do it on our own, but it’s also true that we’re not expected to do it on our own. This is the whole point of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the good news. 

In Moroni 10:32 it says, “Yea, come unto Christ and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”  That is how we become perfect (by both definitions by the way).  

On our own first?

Some people are open to the idea that Jesus will step in and save us in the end, but believe that first we have to reach some arbitrary and undefined level of perfection on our own.  

I’m going to explain where that idea might come from, and then make some clarification.  In 2 Ne 25:23 it says, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”  

A common misunderstanding

So let’s look at the common misunderstanding first, and then add an explanation.  People who struggle with this scripture often ignore the first half of the verse and focus on the last half which says, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do,”  and assume this means that we have to do it all on our own first, and then after we’ve done our very best, all we can do, then and only then will Jesus make up the difference.  

Feeling overwhelmed

So with this kind of understanding, many people do the very best they can; they try and try and try and wear themselves out.  They feel overwhelmed trying to reach a point where they’re good enough and worthy enough to receive the grace of God. Even though they’re exhausted, they feel like a failure, and they keep doing it over and over.  Why? Because they love God. They want to please him. They want to be obedient. They want to do good and be good and they’re doing the best they can. 

Sometimes even people who love God and want to please him, give up because they’re frustrated.  They think. I just can’t do this. I can’t live the gospel, it’s too hard.   

The gospel is good news

These feelings of discouragement, hopelessness, and being overwhelmed come from misunderstanding the scriptures and misunderstanding God’s expectations.  I’m going to repeat that. It’s not that you can’t follow God’s expectations. It’s that you misunderstand God’s expectations.   Remember the gospel is good news, the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, and peace.  When we understand things correctly, this is the way we feel.  We feel at peace. We feel joyful.  And we know that we are loved.  

If this is not the way we’re feeling about living the gospel, that is an indication that we’re not in harmony with the spirit.  I’m going to ask you to open your minds a little bit, and be open to the idea that we might not be understanding things correctly.  And there is a better way to show God that we love Him and a better way to please him than wearing ourselves out and feeling miserable.

Taking another look

Let’s look at that verse again.  It says, “…believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved,…”  and just pause there. Remember that Nephi’s purpose in writing was to convince his children and his brethren to believe in Christ. A few verses later he says, “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”  The heart and purpose of the verse in question is to persuade people to believe in Christ.  

I know some of you are thinking, “Yes I know that already, but what about the ‘after all we can do’ part?  Doesn’t that mean that first I have to reach some magical undefined point of perfection on my own and then Christ will make up the difference?”  No. It does not mean that, and it would break Nephi’s heart that some people misunderstand his meaning. According to the Cambridge dictionary the phrase “after all”  means despite earlier problems or doubts. It could also mean ‘anyway,’ or ‘in any case.’  It indicates that a statement is true regardless of other considerations. 

Scriptural evidence

I’m going to share a scripture story to illustrate that ‘after all we can do’ means ‘despite earlier problems’ or ‘true regardless of other considerations’ rather than chronologically taking place after we have done everything we can on our own to perfect ourselves. 

Lamoni’s father was the king of the Lamanites.  He was not a nice man. He tried to kill his own son just because he said something he didn’t like, then when Ammon intervened, he tried to kill him too.  

Later, this king of the Lamanites spoke with Ammon’s brother Aaron.  The king had been thinking about things that Ammon had said which bothered him, and he wanted some clarification.  Aaron taught the king how to pray and repent. What happens next is one of the most beautiful and sincere prayers in all of history as this powerful king says, “O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead and be saved at the last day.”  

The moment you ask

This prayer was answered in a miraculous way, which is awesome, but that’s actually not my point today.  My point is that this king was a bad guy, murderous even, and he didn’t have to reach some point of righteousness or perfection or perform a certain number of good deeds first, before he became eligible to receive grace from God.  He received help the moment that he asked. So when people wonder at what point are they good enough and at what point are they worthy to receive the cleansing and enabling power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, the answer is ‘right now.’  It is the moment you ask. It is today. It is every day.  

Did the king’s amazing experience mean that he didn’t have to do anything else?  No. He was still expected to do good and be good and keep the commandments, but he had divine help and strength to do those things better than he ever could have on his own.  

A message of hope and compassion

When we understand that ‘all we can do’ scripture correctly, it offers a message of great hope and compassion.  It means that regardless of our imperfections, we can be saved through grace. We are saved through the atonement of Jesus Christ.  This scripture is also a great equalizer. It alludes to the fact that the best of us and the worst of us are all saved through grace.  No one can save themselves. There isn’t a single person, regardless of how righteous they live or how awesome they are, that doesn’t also require the grace of God, through the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, to be saved.  

Becoming prepared 

And again, I know there are readers who are thinking, “Yes, I know all that, but aren’t we required to do something?”  Yes. Obviously.  

In D&C 78:7 it says, “For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.”  Yes, we have to do something, and more importantly, we have to become something, in order to prepare ourselves to live with our Heavenly Father again in the celestial kingdom.  He expects us to try, to make mistakes, to repent, and to try again. He expects us to do our best each day, and as we continue to do our best, our best becomes better.  But we don’t have to become perfect before he loves us, and before he is pleased with us. 

Never on our own

We are never expected to be without flaw or mistake on our own.  We are never expected to become complete and finished on our own.  There is a plan already in place. We become perfected, by both definitions, through Christ.  And we obtain access to the power of Jesus Christ’s atonement through priesthood ordinances. D&C 84:20 says, “Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.”   If you have already received the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost then you already have all the tools you need already in place. Jesus does not wait for us to achieve some arbitrary point of self-perfection before he’s willing to make up the difference, he already made up the difference.  He makes all the difference.  

We can ask for his help today and every day.  You can be clean, worthy and acceptable before God today and every day.  Just ask for it. That’s all the king of the Lamanites had to do, he asked God believing he would receive.  He just asked. Don’t worry about waiting until you feel worthy, God will let you know if he wants you to do something different.  Just ask.  


To summarize, striving for perfection and it’s counterfeit, perfectionism, are not the same.  Striving for perfection is a pattern of trying, making mistakes, repenting and trying again. It is doing our best each day, and as we do our best, our best becomes better.  Striving for perfection relies on God. It is based on faith and requires courage. When striving for perfection, repentance is frequent and joyful. We know that everything is going to be okay because God already has a plan in place to take care of all past, present, and future mistakes.  That plan includes receiving the ordinances of baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost which provides for continuous access to grace and forgiveness through the atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Perfectionism on the other hand, has only two options, perfection or failure.  It is not the same as striving for excellent or trying to do a good job. Perfectionism relies on self and is based in pride and fear.  With perfectionism repentance is avoided and shameful.  

Striving for perfection and perfectionism use different definitions of the word perfect.  Perfectionism uses the definition “being without flaw” and striving for perfection uses the definition “whole, complete, and to reach a distant objective.”  

Striving for Perfection

Definition of perfect: complete, whole, finished, fully, developed.  To reach a distant end.

  • Relies on God
  • Based in faith and courage
  • Pattern of trying, making mistakes, repenting and trying again
  • Repentance is frequent and joyful


Definition of perfect: Being without flaw or mistake

  • Relies on self
  • Based in pride and fear
  • Pattern is that there are only two options: perfection or failure
  • Repentance is avoided and shameful

Effects of perfectionism

Perfectionism leads to discouragement, hopelessness, and being overwhelmed or, on the other hand, to unrealistic pride and self-righteousness.  Perfectionism can prevent us from moving forward, cause us to give up easily, or to become critical and judgmental.  

People become discouraged when they realize they’re not perfect and they’re insufferable when they think that they are. 

A new measuring stick

The truth is that no one is perfect, and that’s okay.  Rather than worrying about being perfect, perhaps we can use some different words.  I am worthy.  I am enough.  I am redeemed. 

You are worthy and enough today, right now.  You are not worthy because of you, you are worthy because Christ is worthy, and you are enough because he is enough.  And you can be worthy and enough tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that. Each day we just do our best, and as we continue to do our best, our “best” gradually becomes better.  We are preparing ourselves to live with God again in the celestial world by following a pattern of trying, making mistakes, repenting, and trying again.  

Working in harmony with a natural drive to evaluate

Human nature includes a drive to evaluate and measure ourselves, so if the answer that you’re worthy and enough right now feels like you’re cheating, then let’s find a way to work in harmony with that natural drive for self-evaluation.  Since comparing ourselves against perfection is discouraging, I invite you to create new measuring stick. How about using the following questions, or come up with a list on your own. 

  • Have I done any good in the world today?  
  • Did I serve anyone?  Don’t forget to include service in the home.  Mothers of young children – did you change a diaper?  Did you make sure a child was fed and clean? Did you keep a child safe and comfortable?  Did you teach a child? These things count. They are the most important service you can possibly render.  

Here are some other possible questions:

  • How did I show my love for God today?
  • How did I show love to my neighbor today? 
  • Was I honorable?  Did I keep my word?  
  • Was I kind?  
  • Did I try?
  • Did I do my best? 
  • Did I ask God to make up the difference?  

Keep it simple

And remember you don’t have to say yes to every question or make the list really long, complicated, comprehensive, and all inclusive.  Simple is best.  Create a list that you feel comfortable with and evaluate your progress each night before you go to bed.  Whether you felt like you did well or did poorly, turn it over to the Lord and start fresh in the morning.  

You may have to chew on this a while before you’re ready to believe it, and that’s okay.  

A couple quotes

In closing I’d like to share two quotes. 

The first is by Akiroq Brost, “Today is all you have. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Just do the best you can right now. One day, one moment at a time.”

“Today is all you have. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Just do the best you can right now. One day, one moment at a time.”

Akiroq Brost

The second is by Ernest Yeboah,  “Our ultimate finishing line in life is death! Whilst you have life, work hard and trust God!”

“Our ultimate finishing line in life is death! Whilst you have life, work hard and trust God!”

Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

Today I invite you to do the best you can and trust God.