Stickies: Progress not Perfection

Job 4:3-9, 17-21 6:14, 24-30
When people in recovery talk about progress not perfection it doesn’t mean that people should not try to be the best they can be. But if we always aim for perfection we will consistently disappoint ourselves so maybe we ought to try shooting for something a little less ambitious.  If we can make an honest attempt at overcoming one character defect at a time by God’s grace we will be moving closer to perfection.  But if we knew that we had arrived, our pride for having done so would set us back again!  That’s why John Wesley said that anyone who was walking in Christian Perfection, did so unknowingly. The point is that by setting the more realistic goal of progress rather than perfection the individual is far more likely to achieve their aim.
Job 4:3-9 – Job’s friends believed that if you weren’t perfect, you got what was coming to you.  In chapter 4, Eliphaz begins by complementing and encouraging his friend, but then reminding him of what he “saw in his experience. . .that those who plant trouble. . . will harvest the same.”  This is truth, have you seen it happen in your life?  Any trouble farmers in the house?
Buddhists call it karma – Hindus say you going to come back as mosquitos – and Cypress Hill sing about it like, “What goes around comes around.”
But it’s not an always and every situation truth.  There are some trouble-planters who haven’t reaped their harvest, and some will not in this lifetime.  But apparently Eliphaz hadn’t seen that happen in his lifetime.  Well, he was either really sheltered or lying to prove a point.  But that’s his experience and it’s hard to argue with that.
You know what’s the problem of basing things for others from our personal experience?  Their experience is different!
When you start thinking you have to have good karma all the time and your primary goal is to become the master of your destiny thing you develop little dysfunction called perfectionism
Perfectionism put on to you by others
Perfectionism is developed as a result of feelings of inferiority or of being less than others. When a child experiences these feelings he develops perfectionism in order to maintain a sense of superiority over his friends and over his environment.
Perfectionism brought on by yourself
Perfectionism helps you to hide your defects from others. After all if you did everything perfectly then no one will dig behind that wall of perfectionism to unfold those well hidden defects.
Perfection given by Jesus
There is something deep within that longs for the perfect and the good news is that God has made a way when there is no way.  In the midst of our broken and messed up world came a child who grew into a man that was without any imperfections.
*God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
* But Job’s friends probably didn’t mean ill-will.  They just wanted Job to get right with God.  And we see in chapter 6 that they also know that sometimes the truth hurts.
Job 6:25 – Constructive Criticism vs. Condemning Comments
“Honest words can be painful, but what do your criticisms amount to?”  Constructive criticism is helpful, that’s not where we’re going with this, but condemning comments only bring you down.
Constructive Criticism or Critical Comments?  There’s a difference.  The hurtful truths that Job’s friends were spitting upon him weren’t true in his situation.  They were generally found in God’s truth but not for Job in his circumstances!
And being on the receiving end of those critical comments often is what helps to develop perfectionism
Problems with Perfectionism
You never know if it’s enough.  
– examples of perfectionist tendencies
– Job lists his accomplishments yet wisely offers it to God for judgment.  He knows of no sin worth this kind of punishment but ultimately leaves it up to God.
Constantly Disappointed
If your expectations are that perfection leads to reward, like Job life will disappoint you.
Unmet expectations often leads to relapse
You don’t get to Fail
Those people who are afraid to fail are unlikely to ever find much success in life. Their desire for perfection actually gets in the way of making progress. The benefits of facing failure in life include:
* Knowing what does not work can be almost as important as finding out what does work. It means that the individual can avoid these wrong paths in the future.
* It forces people to think outside the box and try new approaches. Most of the great innovations in the world have occurred as a result of failures.
* People tend to learn and grow more from their failures than their successes. This is because pain is sometimes more motivational than reward.
Gets in the way of Progress
If you’re sitting around waiting for the perfect situation to arrive, you’ll pass up a bunch of great opportunities!
Can lead to disillusionment, lack of fulfillment, and turn back to old behaviors.  Perfectionism is a big cause of relapse!
* It is vital that people have realistic expectations. Change does not occur over night, and it can sometimes feel to people as if they are going backwards.
* Keeping a recovery journal is a good option so that people can view their progress over time. It can be highly satisfying for people to read back on old entries in their journal to see how far they’ve come.
Job 4:17-21
Then Eliphaz shares what he heard from God, not just from his experience, “Can a mortal be innocent before God?  Can anyone be pure before the Creator?”
But Job’s response would have been that God’s desire is for His children to strive for purity according to God’s standards and that our life should be seeking to be right with our Creator.  Eliphaz despairs that humans die in ignorance, but Job fights for his right to ask God what He’s up to.  Even if there is no answer Job believes that he is right in asking.
Becoming pure is different than being perfect.  Purity comes when you extract the impurities out.