Grace for the Perfectionist, Post #41

What do you think is the difference between perfection, striving for excellence, and doing your best? If you’re like me, that question sure makes you scratch your head.

When I was a little girl, I organized all my crayons by the rainbow-color acronym name—remember it? R-O-Y- G-  B-I-V (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet).  I kept them organized, even if it was a box of 64 crayons. I also colored inside the lines. I was a born perfectionist.

Bless my sweet parents. I was harder on myself than they ever were on me.

All these years later, I still struggle with perfectionism in some areas of my life.  But who holds the measuring stick to decide what “perfect” is? Your “perfect” is different from my “perfect.” The only true measuring stick for perfection is Jesus, and nowhere this side of heaven will I, will we reach the beautiful perfection of Jesus.

I remember one role model in my career taught me this pithy poem:

Good, better, best, And may we never rest,

Until our good is better, And our better, best.

That’s when it hit me: my best is not perfection. And that’s OK.

When I get up in each morning, every fiber of my being strives for excellence. Then life happens…

traffic is at a standstill, and I’m late for work;

a long-anticipated meeting is rescheduled at the last minute;

miscommunication occurs with a loved one;

reality falls short of expectations.

Where is my heart in all of this?  Then I read: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” –Colossians 3:23 NIV84.

What a relief! Just put your heart and passion into all we do. May we not be half-hearted.

One of my favorite verses is five words: “She did what she could…” Mark 14:8a  NIV84.  Don’t you love it? Maybe I should have that on my epitaph!  What grace! It sure makes me exhale.

To set up the scene, Jesus was visiting the home of Simon the Leper. Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, brought in an expensive alabaster jar full of pure nard, which is costly perfume. She took it, broke it, and poured it all on Jesus. Some of Jesus’ disciples ridiculed her for wasting more than a year’s wages of perfume on Jesus instead of giving it to the poor. Jesus told them to leave her alone and said it was a beautiful thing that she did. He told them He would not always be around and this poured perfume was preparing him for his burial. Jesus was trying to tell them he would soon die.

Mary did what she could. It may not have been “perfect” or even “excellent” in the sight of the disciples. She gave it her all.

Dear friends, do you struggle with not getting everything done on your checklist? Keep doing your best, and react with grace knowing obstacles will come into your divine path. Be encouraged. You are making a difference.  Relax. Breathe deeply. Hold it. Exhale. Smile. His grace is sufficient for you and for me. Feel free to color outside the lines sometimes.


–What are some ways you are a recovering perfectionist like me? Please comment.

-What grace can you give yourself or a loved one who struggles with perfectionism?

–How can you make sure your heart is in all your work? Please leave a comment and let me know.


–“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” –2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV 1984)

–“Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” –2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV84.

–“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” –Galatians 1:10 NIV84


Check out NY Times Bestselling Author and my personal friend Lysa TerKeurst’s new book coming out in August–The Best Yes. Pre-order now at

PS. Today is also a great day to print out my “Creating Your Personal Mission Statement Template,” which is free by simply adding your email address and subscribing to this little leap-of-faith “Pure Inspiration” blog.

My personal mission statement is “Shine,” based on Matthew 5:16.

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Leave a comment here | 5 Comments


  1. Tom Lindsay says:

    Danya good morning, I have never seen myself as a Perfectionist except where it comes to others, I tend to expect perfection, Family, friends, coworkers and public at large. I ask for prayer for my intolerance of others weaknesses.

  2. Julie Daniels says:

    Danya! It feels like you wrote this just for me! I appreciate your perspective. Have a fabulous day!

  3. Frank Jenkins says:

    Great column as always ! You always make me think a little more every time after I have read your weekly post. Your poem recited is the same one my mother always said to me when I was little. Thank You for that flashback.

  4. Great post! I needed that this morning!

  5. Stephen Biel says:

    Helpful, grace-infused post. Thank you. I like the ‘encouraging you to shine brighter in faith, life and purity. Very readable and potent. May the grace of Jesus the Lord be with you today.

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