Often in our desire to please God, we hold ourselves to a standard of perfection that only Jesus could achieve. Then we waste time and energy being frustrated with ourselves for not being perfect. But the fact is God isn’t expecting us to be perfect, and so we need to manage our expectations to align with His and expect imperfection.
In my post The Impact of Expectations (How-to Manage Your Expectations), we talk about how much negative emotion we can avoid by managing our expectations, and that’s really what we’re talking about here. Not expecting perfection from ourselves because we’ll never meet that expectation. So manage your expectations to expect imperfection even as you strive towards excellence.
What we may not realize is that often our desire to be perfect is rooted in our own vanity. Yes, we should strive for excellence, but we must remember that as flawed, imperfect humans, we will fall short – and there’s no shame in that! In fact, if we are perfect we rob God of His glory because we receive the glory. God is glorified by His ability to work through flawed, imperfect individuals and still achieve His greater purpose. We see this over and over in the Word. Imperfect people doing amazing things in spite of shortcomings. Here’s just a few examples:
- Moses – a murderer and someone who struggled with public speaking becomes the leader who brings a nation to freedom
- David – an adulterer becomes a beloved king and man after God’s own heart
- Paul – persecutor of God’s people becomes one of His greatest apostles
It is not in our own flawlessness that God is glorified, but rather in the full spectrum of our stories, which include both failures and victories. We need to keep in mind the story as a whole. We need to manage our expectations and expect that we will have imperfections and extend grace to ourselves when we do (and others when they do – remember Ephesians 4:2, and bear with one another in love).
Rather than beating ourselves up when we fall short, we should pause and reflect. When I was in project management, we used to take time at the end of each project to do a “postmortem” where we assessed what went well and what could have been done better; where we had failures and what caused them. Taking time to do postmortems after a situation is a healthy and wise thing to do. It allows us to learn and grow from mistakes. But it also gives us an opportunity to intentionally set them down and move forward. This also helps keep us from being drawn into shame, which could cause separation in our relationship with God.
When it comes to God’s plans, when we desire to be in His will we need to trust that God’s ability to lead us exceeds our ability to screw it up. In reality, our belief that we’re able to block God’s plans even when we are trying to obey Him is actually a form of pride because we’re giving ourself more power than Him!
We need to stop trying to limit God. He is bigger than we can begin to understand. He is fully able to achieve His purposes in and through us. If we’re moving the wrong direction, He is able to “hedge our way with thorns” (Hosea 2:6). This is why we need to not assume all opposition is from the enemy. Too often we give credit to the enemy – in essence praising him (I talk more about this in my post Not Speaking on Behalf of other gods (Exodus 23:13)) – when in fact God is at work. Think of Balaam in Number 22:22 beating his donkey for not moving forward because he wasn’t understanding an angel of the Lord was blocking his path (this is in today’s Prophetic Nugget on DailyDownloadsfromHeaven.com called “Press Through”).
Romans 12:2 talks about the good, perfect, and acceptable will of God. I think of this like a GPS system. When you enter point A and point B, you see multiple routes. They all get you there, but the journey will be different. But there are also the routes that don’t get suggested, perhaps because they’re roundabout or backtrack, but again, ultimately you’ll still get to point B. We need to trust that God can always get us to where He’s leading us when our hearts are set on obedience.
Yes, personal flaws, fears, presumptions, etc. may cause us to get off a more direct route, but God is fully able to lead. So choose to trust Him. Choose to yield. Choose to learn along the way. Lay down any pride and allow Him to be glorified through you, imperfect though you are. Because He is able.
As always, blessings to you as you seek Him!
A good reminder from Daily Downloads from Heaven called “Faithful God (El Aman)” (emphasis added).
Beloved, I AM El Aman, the Faithful God. I AM true to My word. I watch over it to see it fulfilled. My promises are YES and AMEN. They are settled. They are done. You can rely on Me. Others may have let you down, but beloved, I am not them. Trust Me. I will bring it to pass.
Trust requires belief, and I AM a rewarder of those who believe that I AM and who diligently seek Me. So simply keep your eyes fixed on Me. I know I say this again and again, but the world is vying for your attention and the enemy desires to distract you – pulling, pulling from every direction – so quietly, again I say, “Keep your heart and eyes fixed on Me.”
Don’t be discouraged if your gaze has shifted – simply move it back. Beloved, I would rather you choose Me over and over a hundred times a day than that you blow it once and never try again. I understand, and I love you. Fix your gaze on me and trust.
Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and thatHe is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.