Is perfectionism stopping you?

Is perfectionism stopping you?

Perfectionism is not your friend! 

I want to show you something.

It’s only a tiny square of one of Vincent Van Gogh’s earliest works.
If you’re expecting to see the polished, flawless perfection of Gerret Willemsz Heda ( who painstakingly smooths all the tracks of his works; then you’ll be dissappointed. 

Look at the heavy brush strokes.

Globes of beige paint.
Rough textured streaks. 
Even the colors seem lackluster. Only the limited palate of boring grey and faded beige colors. 
And you are looking at the artist third attempt to paint this scene.
He painted it outside, right on the beach during a storm. The howling winds picked up sand and blew it into globs of paint on his painting. He scraped it off twice, but some sand still remains in the painting.
For most people the sand in the paint would be reason enough to throw it away? Not to mention the uneven strokes! 

The Big Picture

Let’s zoom out and take a look at the complete painting. I think this painting is my 2nd favorite van Gogh. You know my favorite Van Gogh has to be the sunflowers with the happy cobalt blue background. (I’ll show it to you later.)
It was the messiness of the strokes, the dull beige and the sad grey colors, even the sand embedded in the paint that makes this painting powerful. 

Zoomed in

As long as I was zoomed in on a single corner, all I could see was messy…I don’t like messy. Do you? 
Perfectionism says, “Messy is bad. It has to be perfect.”

Zoomed Out

But when I zoomed out to see the big picture, I didn’t see messy anymore. I saw texture, movement and drama that made the painting come alive. 
I’m left with some observations.
Maybe, it’s NOT essential that each and every stroke be absolutely perfect to make a masterpiece.  Perhaps sand in the paint doesn’t ruin the painting after all. 

Maybe it NOT absolute perfection that makes a painting valuable? 

And in life, could it be, just maybe, could God take our mistakes or the sand, what about the sand that gets blown onto the painting during a storm; could God take all the bad things that happen and use them to make something beautiful?

Absolutely, He can!

That maybe is turned into a resounding ABSOLUTELY when I remind myself of Romans 8:28 NLT “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” 

Do know that?

Do you really know that?

Visible Brush Strokes?

I am so thankful that Vincent Van Gogh understood that every stroke didn’t have to be perfect according to someone else’s standard to make a beautiful painting. 
Gerret Willemsz Heda Still Life with Ham

Everybody didn’t understand that reality.

Vincent’s unique style was not celebrated by the art-buying public during his lifetime. Even though his mother was an artist; neither of his parents recognized the beauty and greatness of his work. Maybe she believed the smooth, sleek finish style of trained French artistry was the only way to paint. I don’t know, but Vincent wrote to his brother Theo regarding his parents lack of support, “They’ll be unable to understand that painting isn’t done at a stroke, and they’ll always fall back on the idea ‘that I can’t really do it’, and that real painters work in a totally different way.”

Perfectionism says “It has to be perfect” and “What will people think?”.

1 Painting- only one!

Of his approximate 900 paintings, Vincent only sold one during his lifetime.
Not everyone will value your talent, but what matters is that you do!

If you don’t value your talent you won’t

  • use it;

  • invest it;

  • share it.

Perfectionism says, “…when I get perfect…I will…”
If you only focus on what you can’t do, you’ll never do what you can do.
Proverbs 16:9 ESV The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. 
I know I’ve shared that verse twice lately, but I want you to get it. 

Ask God for direction.

Proverbs 3:5,6 NLT
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

Ask yourself. 

How important is this in the big picture? 
Am I giving this one thing too much attention, too much time, too much power?
Is it really worth the frustration that I am allowing?

Don’t focus on failure.

Don’t compare yourself with someone else.
Finally don’t focus on what you can’t do.
You don’t have to let it bother you.
You choose what your focus on!
So change your focus.
Change your thinking.

Your best means you’ll keep growing…

  • keep learning…
  • keep developing…
  • but your goal is not perfect…
  • your goal is your best!
Colossians 3:23 NLT Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
I want to clarify my term “zoom out.”
Since only eternity will reveal the masterpiece that Almighty God is making of your life story, I want to encourage you, lift your eyes off yourself and your abilities and look to Jesus. 

Recognize that when you partner with Him, He’s able to take your best and turn it into a masterpiece.

Click here to download the outline to help you process this teaching personally.

My favorite Van Gogh masterpiece…today. After all there are so many to choose from. I love beauty so much and he captures it in everyday things. That’s what I want to do.






Since we’re on the subject…

Here’s some links for you to go deeper.

How do you keep from Striking Out?

Run to winHow’s your race going?