Is Being Perfect the Best Option?

Like many pastors, I am bi-vocational, meaning that I have another job outside of ministry to support myself and my family. I am very blessed because I get to do something I love in both jobs and not all pastors can say that.

My other job is teaching teenagers how to drive and I just finished a very challenging class of driver’s ed. The kids were great, but very quiet, and that makes it much harder for me to make the class fun for them. I took some time to recharge this morning after being drained from the last two weeks. I read a blog post that talked about perfectionism in teachers and how it is a gift to remember that students are learners and beginners and that teachers assist them on the way without needing to make sure they are perfect.

That is a message I need to hear at times. I can slip into perfectionism and nowhere is that more true than in my teaching, especially when I am in the car with a teenager. Driving can be dangerous and I want to make sure I give those students every tool I have to remain safe and to become excellent drivers.

Sometimes I go too far and I try to make them perfect drivers, as if there is such a thing. I don’t do this because I am some obsessed, anal, perfectionist driving instructor (although I am sure some of my students would disagree), but I do it because I hear the siren song. You know the one…the song that raises the level of our fear and anxiety, along with our heart rate. The song that sells us on the idea that the stakes are much higher than they might seem and one wrong move can end in disaster.

I think that siren song is one of reasons we don’t share the Gospel well. We hear that siren song and we think we can’t share the Gospel because we might make a mistake and their lack of acceptance would be our fault. Or we hear that song and we keep sharing the Gospel to the point that it is forced on unwilling recipients, believing that if we don’t get them to accept the Gospel today, this very minute, they could be lost for eternity.

In a way, those thoughts can be good. We want to have an urgency about sharing the Gospel and we want to do it well, but the siren song is destructive. If I push too hard with my driving students, I lose my influence with them, I lose the chance to be their guide on the journey, and I miss out on beauty of watching them grow.

If we push too hard with the Gospel, we lose our influence with the people we are sharing with. We won’t get a second opportunity or a third or more to share with them again, going deeper into the Gospel each time we share. We won’t be able to travel with them on their journey and we won’t be able to see them as they grow and we won’t be able to see the glory of God shining through them.

That siren song of perfectionism can be vicious, but that doesn’t mean we have to sing along.

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