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Tag Archives: perfectionist

Apart from Me?

“The Italians have a Proverb, ‘He that deceives me once, its his fault; but if twice, its my fault.’” This is where Americans have derived the saying “fool me once, shame on you; full me twice shame on me.” Unfortunately, anyone who attempts to be good without relying on God will experience disappointment over and over again.

“I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you], John 15:1-3.

A disciple shares an analogy used by Jesus.  This imagery compares God to an arborist.  Whenever human beings begin to sag, tire or wilt, the Gardener prunes every dead branch to stimulate growth.  The key to maintaining growth is staying connected to the vine.  The vine is Jesus, symbolic of the source to spiritual life.  Trying to pursue holiness apart of Jesus wears souls out, like a perfectionist who is never satisfied.

Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing, John 15:4-5.

This passage serves as a needed remainder to me that living life on my own isn’t working.  Thus, I am dying of thirst, in desperate need of living water.  Right now I feel like the apostle Paul in Romans 7, wanting to do the right thing, but unable to do so.  Therefore, it’s time for this vicious cycle of failure to come to an end.  The answer is easy, let God in to change you from the inside out.  Away with apart from me, replaced by Jesus in me.

by Jay Mankus

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Do You Have it All Together?

As a recovering perfectionist, hints of chaos is an unpleasant sight.  For some reason, I feel the need to give the impression that I have it all together.  Everything is fine, it is well with my soul.  I wish this was the case, but often I find myself on the verge on collapse.  Hanging by a thread, like the classic Mike and the Mechanics song.  Thus, if you want a simple answer, no I don’t have it all together.

Now while they were on their way, Jesus entered a village [called Bethany], and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was continually listening to His teaching. 40 But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part,” Luke 10:38-40.

While admission, confession is the first step on the road to recovery, the next logical question is if I don’t have it all together, what’s the problem?  To start with, perfectionists like me tend to suffer from the Martha complex.  A first century doctor refers to this condition as concentrating and fixating on the external.  Instead of entering into a deep and meaningful conversation with Jesus, Martha was focused on making her house spotless.  Consumed by trying to be a good host, Martha missed the point, life is about relationships not perfection.

But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:41-42.

Part of my perfectionist rehab involves abstaining from the need to be a workaholic by slowing down enough to entertain small talk.  While these daily conversations may not get very far or amount to anything, they set the stage for permanent meaningful conversations to begin.  If you spend most of your time on earth busy, running around like your head is cut off (old youthism), you’ll never know what you have in common with others.  Therefore, as Christmas approaches, make sure you follow in the steps of Mary by choosing conversation as a means to pass time with family.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Not What You Say, but How You Say It

It doesn’t take much for a coach, parent or teacher to get under a teenager’s skin.  Sometimes the tone chosen is demeaning.  Others come across as pompous or smug, alienating the individual they are talking to.  Meanwhile, impatient adults have a tendency to take out their frustrations upon young people, creating an even greater generational gap.  This disconnect proves that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear, Ephesians 4:29.

When you are reading a book, sometimes the context of previous events isn’t a hundred percent clear.  Thus, you are forced to go back to make sure you haven’t missed anything important.  In the passage above, you have to understand who Saul was before he changed his name to Paul.  This former Pharisee was a perfectionist, critical by nature, eager to point out flaws.  Therefore, the words Paul choses serves as a reminder to himself and his leaders within the church at Ephesus to focus on the positive, not the negative.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

While writing a letter to a teenager, Paul reveals an important truth about the Holy Spirit.  Although the world tends to emphasize imperfections, staying optimistic isn’t impossible.  Rather, one of the fruits of God’s spirit is self-control, the discipline to control your own tongue.  The language you choose to express daily is a conscious decision.  Unfortunately, many don’t realize the power of words.  Every coarse joke, put down and sarcastic remark influences others in a negative manner.  Therefore, make sure the next time you open your mouth, you think before speaking for it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where Did My Fervor Go?

As a child, there was nothing like the anticipation of opening presents under a Christmas tree.  I must confess that sometimes I snuck down stairs in the middle of the night just to see what was in my stocking.  On a couple of occasions I dozed off under our tree, before going back up to my bed so I wouldn’t be seen.  Unfortunately, somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, I lost my fervor for life.

Apollos had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John, Acts 18:25.

One of the more interesting characters of the Bible is a man named Apollos who first met Paul during a trip to Ephesus.  Although this man from Alexandria was an outsider, his passion for God made up for his limited knowledge.  To a certain extent, I see a lot of Apollos in me during my early years in youth ministry.  I didn’t possess the theological background that most youth pastors acquire, yet my determination and fervor was strong.  Yet, when I left the ministry for good 5 years ago, my fire has dimmed.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23.

Previous mentors would suggest that I haven’t re-fueled, not spending enough time in Bible study, prayer or worship.  Other friends might lean to a lack of commitment, fellowship and service to a local church.  While this advice may be true, the most logical reason for losing my fervor is a lack of joy.  When you’re a perfectionist, its hard to enjoy the little things in life.  Thus, as I continue to search for answers, I cling to a life verse from high school.  Whatever I do in the future, I must devote my heart to serving the Lord.  If you find yourself in a similar state this year, may the Lord show you the way to rekindle your fervor for life.

by Jay Mankus

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