Perhaps the first lesson: “Lose the perfectionism.”

“Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

The goal is perfection.  Of course.

However, you will not attain it in this life.

That does not change the goal. It just means we keep trying, keep aiming high, and never stop getting up from our failures and trying again.

What we have here is a paradox: The goal is and always will be perfection, but we are not to be perfectionists.

We are sinners. Flawed humans of whom it is said, “There is none righteous, no not one.”

That’s the reality.  We fall short.

The goal is heaven. But we are earthlings.

But we are going to heaven. We will see Him. We will be like Him. And we will finally be perfect.

That’s Scriptural. It’s the reality.

But in the meantime, we’re here.

In houses of clay, bodies that tire and age and complain if they’re being mistreated or neglected.  We see through a glass darkly, we know in part, and the work we do will always be partial and incomplete.

Get that: The work we do for Christ here on earth will always be limited, partial, and incomplete.

But we do it anyway.  Always giving our best.

God can use simple things, poorly expressed testimonies, humble gifts, and ordinary people.

He’s wonderful like that.

One of our limitations is that we tend to think if our work is not perfect He will not receive it or cannot use it.

That’s just one more area where we’re mistaken.  (There are so many!)

Lose the perfectionism, disciple of Jesus Christ.

One of the first things you learn when trying to sketch large numbers of people in a short period of time is to ditch the perfectionism. Forget about trying to draw the subject perfectly as they are.

You are not going to do this perfectly.

That art pen has no eraser.  While you can tear this particular sheet up and start over–and I confess to doing this once in a while–when a long line of people is waiting to be sketched, in most cases you don’t have the luxury of time. So, you just mark over the mistake and go forward.

People say, “Do you ever mess up?”

I laugh.

“All the time.  I’ll draw a line wrong–the chin is too weak, the ear too high, the eyes too far apart–and just keep on drawing. None of these drawings is perfect.”

Most people know when a drawing was done in two minutes or less not to expect perfection.  If I come in the general neighborhood, they seem satisfied.

Earlier this month, while sketching large numbers of people as they were arriving for the Christmas program at First Baptist Church, Jackson, Mississippi, once the crowd moved into the sanctuary, my helper and I took our materials and moved there also.  The place was packed (it holds 3,000) a full 30 minutes before starting time. So, we moved around sketching people.  Just before the second performance, I found myself drawing several rows of young adults with Down syndrome.

That was hard.  These precious friends seem to have little idea what “Okay, smile at me” means.  Most would twist their faces into contortions to give far more facial expression than I could handle.  I would try to set them at ease, get them to relax the smile if possible, and I’d keep drawing.  Ninety seconds on this one, a minute on that one, two minutes on the next.  None of the drawings was very good, I confess.  But the people were sweet and appreciative, and I kept at it.  (My helper would get their name, which I’d letter onto the drawing, and she would roll the drawing up and tie a red ribbon around it.)

All the while I kept telling myself, “Lose the perfectionism. Do the best you can.”

That’s also my philosophy at the nursing home.  Some of the patients cannot stay awake, can’t hold their heads up, and don’t seem to know they’re in the world.  Your heart goes out to them, and you…here it comes…you do the best you can.

You cannot do it perfectly, but you do not let that stop you from doing what you can.

You and I do that all the time, don’t we?  We cannot parent perfectly, but that does not stop us from trying our best.  We cannot be a perfect mate to our spouse,  but we can work at it.  We’re unable to teach that Sunday School lesson flawlessly, but thankfully no one expects it from us.  We do the best we can.

We cannot do selfless acts without inferior motivations getting involved and staining the purity of our deeds. We write a check for a ministry and feel good about it, then wonder if our motive was the good feeling or the appreciation and recognition that will come our way or the way this seems to ease our guilt.

It’s practically impossible to do anything perfectly.

But, we give it our best shot.

“She has done what she could” (Mark 14:8).

When they criticized that woman for anointing Jesus with the costly fragrance, He said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed for Me… She has done what she could….”

That’s all He asks.  Do what you can.

You won’t do it perfectly.

The article I write here will not be perfect.  I’ll come back months from now and tweak it. Someone will message me that I left out a great illustration or got a scripture wrong.

The sermon I preach will not be perfect.  The Word of God is perfect, to be sure, but this preacher is a far sight short of perfect.

You’ve thought of giving your life to Jesus Christ and joining the church? But you’ve held back because of certain problems that will stop you from doing it perfectly?

You’re playing right into the enemy’s hands.

Do it by faith, friend. Trust the Lord to take your life, flawed and weak though it is, and to make something of it; to take your faith, partial though it is, and to make it come alive.

He does not require perfection, otherwise no one would make it.  I sure wouldn’t, I’ll tell you that.

But go and learn what this means: He is a God of grace.

The more you learn of His grace, the more you will stand amazed at Him and the closer to Him you will draw.  And without realizing it, the more perfect you will become. But, if I may be allowed to say, you’ll be the last to know it. Only when you get to Heaven and look back will you see the full picture.

Until then, get on with it. Teach that class, preach that sermon, bring that gift, share your witness, do the thing God has laid on your heart.  Trust Him to make of it something eternal.

(Postscript. I said I’d be back to tweak this, but it happened sooner than I thought.  First, someone wrote to say it’s not Down’s Syndrome, but Down Syndrome.  So I changed it. Then, another friend wrote, “The Syndrome is not in caps.”  I checked it out on official websites and saw she was right. I’m grateful.)


3 thoughts on “Perhaps the first lesson: “Lose the perfectionism.”

  1. Thanks for sharing. I had a partial knee replacement Monday, so “do what you can” has a special new meaning as I start/continue PT. 🙂

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