Life At Its Best: No one is perfect
By Jim Graff
July 25, 2014 at 2:25 a.m.
Perfection is something most of us seek. Whether in our work, relationships or even our appearance, the desire to be flawless is luring.
In some ways, this can be a positive thing. It can help motivate us to do our best. However, striving for a standard of perfection can also create unnecessary pressure. It can cause us to feel ashamed when we miss the mark. Then, we find ourselves wanting to defend our performance rather than humbly accepting our imperfection.
One of my pastor friends has a phrase that has helped me to admit my faults and accept my imperfection. It was birthed out of a situation he had with his family years ago. They had done something that really upset him.
At first, he tried to stay calm and properly handle the situation. However, after a few minutes, he let his temper take over. He began angrily expressing his frustration with their decisions. A few hours later, he started thinking about the words he'd said and quickly realized that he was in the wrong. He knew he had a choice to make.
He could leave the situation unaddressed, hoping they'd forget about it. He could try to defend and justify the decision he'd made. Or he could choose to recognize and repent for his mistake.
He finally decided on option three. He called his kids into the room and apologized for what he'd done. Then, he said a phrase that I now use with my own kids. He said, "When I'm not an example to you in the way I live, I promise to be an example in the way I repent."
That's the spirit Jesus wants His church to live with. Of course, our goal should always be to live exemplary lives. But the reality is that sometimes, we just mess up. When that happens, we shouldn't try to defend ourselves because that just gives the false notion that church is a place where perfection is to be expected. Instead, we should respond in humility, so that we establish a culture of love and acceptance.
The fact is that we can't always be the greatest example in how we live. But like my friend, we can be one in how we repent.
Living in that kind of humility starts with removing the standard of perfection. When we set unreasonable standards, we frequently become upset with ourselves and with others when they recognize our flaws. As a result, we attempt to justify or defend them.
Instead, we must practice living with proper standards. We must try to set an example while also realizing that we will fall short. We must recognize that progress, not perfection, is the goal.
Then, we must be quick to repent. Don't put it off for another day. It only gets harder as time passes. Instead, step out in humility.
Recognize that we all make mistakes. We can't be the perfect example of how to live. But we can set the example in how we repent.
Jim Graff is the senior pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. Visit faithfamilyvictoria.com.