Pride: The Root of Perfectionism

A number of years ago, God took me on a crash course in humility. Day after day, as I spent an hour each way to and from work praying to Him about all my frustrations and trials, He revealed to me that at the root of my strife was my own pride. Ouch! Over the course of several months, God graciously showed me that my life revolved around me, instead of Him. At the center of my attention were my thoughts, my wants, my anger, my bitterness, and my unforgiveness. As He peeled away the layers of sin, I was finally forced to face my pride. Cutting out the root of pride brought a freedom in Christ I had not previously known. Now, years later, I can see why my insecurity-induced perfectionism has diminished as I have focused my attention on God. In Beth Moore’s So Long, Insecurity, she brought clarity to the life I once lived:

Pride. A root of insecurity if there ever was one. We will never feel better about ourselves by becoming more consumed with ourselves. Likewise, we will never feel better about ourselves by feeling worse about others. Superiority can’t give birth to security. Neither, by the way, can the relentless pursuit of perfectionism. Earlier in our journey, I suggested that perfectionism is insecurity in an art form. It never looks prettier and never acts deadlier. Perfectionism is perhaps our culture’s biggest temptation. In his fascinating book Perfecting Ourselves to Death, psychiatrist and theologian Richard Winter offers this intriguing insight:

Although perfectionists seem very insecure, doubting their decisions and actions, fearing mistakes and rejection, and having low opinions of themselves, at the same time, they have excessively high personal standards and an exaggerated emphasis on precision, order and organization, which suggests an aspiration to be better than others.

Most psychological explanations see the desire to be superior and in control as compensation for feelings of weakness, inferiority and low self-esteem. But it could also be that the opposite is true; we feel bad about ourselves because we are not able to perform as well, or appear as good, as we really think we can. We believe we are better than others, but we keep discovering embarrassing flaws. Perfectionists’ black-and-white thinking takes them on a roller coaster between feeling horribly inadequate and bad about themselves, and then, when things are going well, feeling proud to be so good. Low self-esteem and pride coexist in the same heart. (p. 105-106)

Can you feel the heaviness of those chains of bondage? Like I once was, are you being held captive by perfectionism?

Oh, dear one, if so, I urge you to seek God. Confess your sin of pride and let Him cut away the root that is feeding your perfectionism and insecurity. Freedom will come.

In hope,
Shelli

About Shelli Bourque

An ordinary girl living by the grace of life in Christ. Adoring wife and mom. Lover of quiet places and uncluttered spaces. Beauty seeker and image maker.

Comments

  1. Mrs. Rodriguez says

    Thank you so much for your post. I’ve been struggling all my life with the what I thought was an “involuntary impulse / inclination” toward perfectionism and it’s been sucking my dry to the bone. I would ask myself why do I feel that I have to do this, why do I want to prove myself to others…. I would pray to God to just eradicate from me what’s unpleasing, but now “I can name it to claim myself free from it”. Thank you again for letting God flow through you to bless others including myself.