The Problem of Perfectionism – MBFLP 251


A reader asks, “What can you do about an over-conscientious child?”

C.S. Lewis observed that our sins are often forms of virtues which have gone astray. The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)  We should be pursuing excellence–but it’s very easy to let that pursuit turn into self-righteousness, arrogance, and pride. And it can also drive a person to distraction, depression, and despair, as the reality settles in that we can’t truly reach perfection in our own strength.

So what should we do when we see one of our children … or ourselves … leaning on human effort and achievement instead of faith in Christ? When striving for excellence becomes an unforgiving and ungracious pursuit of the unattainable? When our obedience to God is based on appeasement rather than love?

But doesn’t the Bible speak about perfection?

Yes, it does. Jesus speaks of loving your enemies, a supremely unnatural thing to do, and says if you do this, “you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) While it is true that God is pure and sinless, we aren’t and won’t be until heaven. Yet we can strive after this kind of perfection, which is not sinless but rather, balanced and mature, like James describes: “But let patience [as a result of the testing of your faith] have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4)

The sort of perfectionism to beware of has several unhelpful fruits:

  1. Pride – if I think I’ve achieved it, or I think I’m capable
  2. Arrogance – if I look down on others who aren’t trying as hard as I am
  3. Inefficiency – putting too much time and effort into unimportant things
  4. Fear – if I’m not confident I’ll succeed, I don’t want to try
  5. Faithlessness – if I don’t realize how desperately I need Christ
  6. Guilt – if I don’t recognize my inability, any disappointment is my own fault

Really, it’s a form of legalism–hoping to earn God’s favor or dissuade His anger by our own diligence. (continued …)

Can we be over-conscientious? 

It’s good to be careful, watchful, observant. Our hearts are still drawn away from Christ and God’s law, so we need to be on guard against our own sinfulness. Our conscience can be helpful – Paul says in Romans that Gentiles who didn’t know the law of Moses sometimes did the right thing anyway,

when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them (Romans 2:14-15)

But our conscience can be mistaken or confused. Paul wrote the church in Corinth, “I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 4:4) And the apostle John wrote, “If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” (1 John 3:20)

Romans 14 deals with matters of personal conviction, and Paul says, “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” (verse 5) – but we do need to recognize that our conscience needs to be trained by the word of God. And we need to remember that each of us is on life-long road of growth–and we haven’t all reached the same level of maturity yet!

So how should we guide our children in this area?

  1. Our hope and our self-worth are not found in our report cards, our job descriptions, our paychecks, or our prizes — hope and identity come from our relationship to Jesus Christ
  2. Encourage your perfectionist children to try things they might avoid. Encourage your bookworm to learn tennis or dancing. Get your athlete piano lessons or tutoring in French. Help them realize that they can’t excel in everything – and they don’t have to!
  3. Be sure to praise the intangible things. Character doesn’t come with a scorecard, but God is much more concerned with the sort of person we are than the numbers we achieve on the tests.
  4. Help them gauge the real value of quality. If over-exactness makes you late on your homework, you still lose. Sometimes “good enough” is the right answer, and better than “good enough” may actually be a distraction–or worse.
  5. Finally, be sure they understand that By grace you have been saved through faith, that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Instead, our obedience to God is not meant to earn His forgiveness or love–it’s our loving response to what He’s already done for us. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Best of HIRL: I Love Homeschooling, But I’ll Tell You Its Flaws

I Love Homeschooling But I'll Tell You It's Flaws - Homeschooling IRL

On this episode of Homeschooling In Real Life, Fletch and Kendra discuss what it’s like when your homeschool student abandons your family’s faith and lifestyle.

How can this happen in a Christian home where you have created a sheltered homeschool environment? Christian homeschooling is designed to protect our kids. Shouldn’t our children turn out perfect?

To answer that question, we interview a young man who has done that very thing, but here is the best part: after being raised in a rigid environment which he ultimately rejected, he is still a huge proponent of  home education and thinks his mom is one of the best teachers around!

Homeschooling parents, this is an episode you won’t want to miss! We may challenge you to rethink about how you listen to your kids, how to look for and complement their strengths, but mostly we will remind all of us how important it is to just point them to Jesus.


We’d like to thank our Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sponsor, Like Arrows!

FamilyLife’s first feature film LIKE ARROWS, explores the joys and heartaches of parenting with a story that spans over 50 years. Join us in theaters across America for a special 2 night showing of LIKE ARROWS followed by exclusive after-show content with the film-makers, including celebrated faith-based film-makers Alex and Stephen Kendrick as well as FamilyLife Today’s Dennis and Barbara Rainey and Bob Lepine. You’ll leave encouraged and equipped with powerful next steps to make Christ the center of YOUR parenting.

LIKE ARROWS will be in theaters for two nights only, MAY 1ST and 3RD. To view the trailer and find theater info, visit the link below. If you missed the movie in theatres be sure to check out the Digital, DVD and Blueray versions on the website, LikeArrowsMovie.com

Visit here to learn more.


 

Losing Religion, Finding Grace – MBFLP 161

 

What happens when you do everything right and it turns out terribly, awfully wrong? Do you doubt God’s love? Does it shake your faith? Or does it drive you to a closer walk with your Lord and Savior?

This episode, we talk with Kendra Fletcher, the author of the new book (affiliate link!), Lost & Found: Losing Religion, Finding GraceKendra and her husband Andy Fletcher (hosts of Homeschooling IRL on this network) have seen both sides of the coin, as God brought them from a cold, rule-based religiosity, to a living faith in a living Jesus day by day. You’ll find it both challenging and encouraging as we talk about this crucially important distinction!

 

Recovering From Legalism – MBFLP 132

Recovering from Legalism V

 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith … not a result of works. lest any man should boast.” The apostle Paul told us that and we all know it … but somehow, we easily turn to legalism when it comes to living out that salvation we received by grace. How can you avoid this? What can you do about it when you discover you’ve slipped into a hopeless, graceless, checklist spiritual life? This episode (recorded at Yosemite National Park!) we talk about learning to listen to God’s Word and His Spirit – and not relying on man-made additions to God’s actual commandments!

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Bullied Into Buying – MBFLP 124

Blog - Bullied into Buying - V

Homeschooling allowed us to raise kids that were not peer-dominated, not bullied, not searching for affirmation and validation from every direction. Hooray! The problem is, we parents were not raised that way, and guess what – often we’re the ones with peer group problems. This episode we take an honest look at the way we can be bullied — or be the bullies — when we’re worrying about what other homeschool parents are thinking …

You Don’t Have to Homeschool ALL of Your Children

Legalism is not required to homeschool. You can homeschool All Some or One of your Children.jpg

Homeschool

YES, You can Homeschool all of your children, some of your children, or one of your children. Seek God’s will for your family, your children and their education. If He directs your path to homeschool all, some, one or none of your children, that is the path you should take.

Join me and Kerry Beck from How To Homeschool My Child as we discuss this very topic and how God directed her to homeschool two of her children and send another to school for high school. She is seeing the fruit of following the Lord’s direction for school and missions trips.

Yes, as always, I got a little off topic, but let the Lord run the show as Kerry and I discussed not only homeschool but how she and her family have gone on mission trips for many years.

You can find Kerry on her website, YouTubeFacebook, Twitter, G+ and Pinterest.

MBFLP – Transitioning to Adulthood with Israel Wayne

MBFLP Transitioning to Adulthood Israel Wayne

 

We all want to raise competent, well-prepared adults as our children grow up. Sometimes our best intentions, though, could be interfering with their growth and may result in something quite different than we hope — even a broken relationship with a twenty-something son or daughter. What’s happening, and more importantly, what can do to avoid it? Join us for this interview with author, speaker, and second-generation homeschooler Israel Wayne, on making the transition to adulthood!

I Love Homeschooling, But I’ll Tell You Its Flaws – HIRL Episode 15

HIRL-Episode-15.jpg

On this episode of Homeschooling In Real Life, Fletch and Kendra discuss what it’s like when your homeschool student abandons your family’s faith and lifestyle.
How can this happen in a Christian home where you have created a sheltered homeschool environment? Christian homeschooling is designed to protect our kids. Shouldn’t our children turn out perfect?
To answer that question, we interview a young man who has done that very thing, but here is the best part: after being raised in a rigid environment which he ultimately rejected, he is still a huge proponent of  home education and thinks his mom is one of the best teachers around!
Homeschooling parents, this is an episode you won’t want to miss! We may challenge you to rethink about how you listen to your kids, how to look for and complement their strengths, but mostly we will remind all of us how important it is to just point them to Jesus.

Join Fletch (from theMangoTimes) and Kendra (from Preschoolers and Peace) podcast every two weeks as they interview guests and talk through some of the goofiness they have experienced in nearly two decades of Homeschooling In Real Life.