Trademarks of a Perfectionist: Part 1

What is a perfectionist?  Does having a color-coded closet make you one? How about if you got good grades in school? What if you just like stuff clean? 

Today, I’m going to attempt a three part series covering what I feel are the three BIG traits of a perfectionist. This is not an exhaustive list. My hope in composes this is to help you identify and deal with perfectionism in your life. A couple introductory thoughts….

  • Perfectionism is not like substance abuse or anger issues or rebellion–it is acceptable, even praiseworthy when viewed by others not experiencing it.  But it is still destructive.
  • Everyone has pockets of perfectionism. We all have certain things we like certain ways. Small areas where we are meticulous, anal, or a little OCD about. For example, I have always been very perfectionist when it comes to school, but I really do not struggle with having a little dirt on my bathroom sink.  

What are the traits of a perfectionist? 

1. A perfectionist refuses to try new things because of fear. 

Me (far right) with my siblings circa my beauty pageant days.

Where I grew up 4-H was very big. Every year each county crowns a 4-H Fair King and Queen.  When I was a little girl I got to “escort” a contestant at the pageant.  My mom made me a beautiful dress. I got some spiffy new shoes.  My hair was curled.  I was looking good.  The spotlights came on and I got to stroll on stage with my contestant. I felt every inch a beautiful princess and I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to be in the Whitley County 4-H Queen Pageant for real! Every year I went to the pageant.  Sometimes I even answered the impromptu questions in my head. And I waited for my turn.

But something happened to the little girl who dreamed of being Queen…I got scared.  I noticed that not all the girls in beautiful dresses got to be queen. Some of them were left standing on stage with big, fat, fake smiles as the Queen had a beautiful crown placed on her head. And I was afraid that I would be one of those leftover girls…stuck wondering why I wasn’t good enough.

So I never did it. Better not to know.

 I let my fear of failure keep me from a wonderful experience. I could have at least met new friends, learned some new skills (least of which would be how to walk in a pair of heels), and worn a beautiful dress.

So often those of us who are stuck in the trap of perfectionism let our fears hold us back.  We are paralyzed by the fear of rejection, of failure, of criticism and we never move forward.

We forget God’s promise in 2 Timothy 1:7,”God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

God can’t use children frozen in fear! And you don’t have to conjure up the courage to do it on your own.  He has already given you power, love, and soundness of mind so you can move forward.  You can experience scary things! You can put your pride on the line.

You all know Peter, the disciple, right?  He is a classic non-perfectionist and we can learn a lot by his example.  Do you remember when he was on the fishing boat and he saw Jesus walking on the water? Everyone was terrified; but what did Peter do?  He asked, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” So Jesus told him to come. And Peter did. Wow. He actually got out of the boat! He risked looking like a fool, risked drowning, risked it all–to do what Jesus asked. 


But then guess what?  He got scared.  And he sunk.  And Jesus had to pull him up. And walk him back to the boat. So yeah, he did maybe look a little foolish, maybe he did almost drown….


God might call you to do some crazy things.  Don’t let fear stop you.  If you don’t step out of the boat you will never walk on water!

And if you sink and look like a fool–don’t worry.  Jesus will pick you up and walk you to safety. What a miracle grace is. 

Don’t let fear keep you from trying new things and living your life to the fullest! Don’t let perfectionism keep you from moving forward!

Have you ever not done something out of fear?  Do you regret sitting on the sidelines? 
Why do you think Jesus called Peter out of the boat when He knew Peter was going to fail?

Read Trademarks of a Perfectionist: Part 2

and Trademarks of a Perfectionist: Part 3

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