June 29, 2016 – Serenity Prayer and Perfectionism

Rev. Jeff Gannon
On Sunday, I ran out of time during my sermon to tell you about the complete Serenity Prayer. Reinhold Niebuhr, a German theologian who taught at Union Seminary in America is actually the author of the prayer. He rarely gets credit but Rev. Niebuhr never complained to my knowledge. As the saying goes, “God will do great things through the person who doesn’t care who gets the credit.


My good friend in ministry Pete Scazerro has time to do a lot of writing and reflecting. So, here is something he shared with me recently. I was convicted by the truth of what he wrote and trust you will be as well.

You Know You are a Perfectionist When…

Pursuing excellence is a good thing. Perfectionism is not.

Perfectionism, that refusal to accept a standard short of perfection, is the shadow side of excellence – undermining the best of who we are, limiting our ability to love, and damaging our leadership of others.

How do I know? I know perfectionism so well in myself. Part of what makes us human is our imperfections and mistakes. Only God is perfect.

At times I wonder if the church, in our desire to reach the world for Jesus, has hired a Pharaoh of perfectionism to help us. Sadly, many of us don’t need an external slave driver. We carry our own internal Pharaoh who drives us not to accept flaws and blemishes in our performance.

The following are my top 10 signs that God uses to stop me when I fall into the sin of perfectionism:

  1. I am anxious – a lot.
  2. I am impatient with the mistakes of others, and even more impatient with myself.
  3. I reach my goals and I am still not content.
  4. I overfunction, doing for others what they can and should do for themselves.
  5. I rarely play, relax, or laugh with my co-workers and team.
  6. I am treating people as an “It” (i.e. a means to an end) and not a “Thou” (i.e. unrepeatable human beings).
  7. I am not spending time being still before the Lord and letting things go.
  8. I forget to be thankful for the small victories and progress.
  9. I spend more time thinking about excellence in sermons, programs, etc. than trusting in Jesus’ abundance.
  10. I fail to remind myself regularly: God is God and I am not. It is human to make mistakes.

Which of these stands out most to you? What might you add for your own list?

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