I’m a recovering perfectionist. Well, I think I am recovering. I need to ask my wife what she thinks. On second thought, maybe I’m really not to the recovery stage yet. However, at least I’m only a perfectionist about some things. (Just take a look at my garage! It looks like a hoarder has taken up residence.)
If you have similar dialogs in your head, then welcome to the perfectionist club. Come on, don’t deny it. There are areas in your life that lean toward perfectionism. The good news is that perfectionism is not all bad. There is a time and place for this behavioral tendency.
For example, I work on a team with editors and graphic designers. We strive everyday for excellence, and a degree of perfectionism is helpful. The same could be said for your role as a kids ministry leader.
However, as a good friend always told me, “Any strength taken to an extreme can become a weakness.” So, what are the indicators that suggest you may need to relax a little and let some things go? Here are my seven, and you may desire to add or subtract from this list:
- The title of this blog post bothers you. After all, #kidmin is not a word. Should the “k” in #kidmin be uppercase since it’s in a title? Will everyone know why there’s a pound sign (hashtag) in front of the word?
- Your mantra is, “Be perfect because I am perfect.” This is no way to make friends or to earn the respect of those you lead. Never, ever expect perfectionism from others. This will only lead to frustration on both sides, and could leave you without volunteers. Only Jesus was perfect.
- You’re known as The Fixer. As a man and a perfectionist, I have a double dose of “fixeritis.” Perfectionists wear themselves out trying to fix everything, and they don’t teach problem-solving skills. The more problems you fix, the more problems people will bring you. Stop trying to fix everything.
- Problems are increasing, and solutions are decreasing. When you are always striving for perfectionism, you tend to be risk averse. And you burn a lot of mental, emotional, and physical energy trying to be perfect, instead of focusing that energy on the problem. Perfectionism stifles problem solving.
- Delegation is a foreign word. Let’s face it, you think you’re the only one who can perform a task like it should be performed. The truth is that someone else probably can do the task better than you, but you are still needed. Delegating tasks frees you up to lead and do additional tasks. Trust others to do the work, encourage them, pray for them, and then hold them accountable.
- Projects are never finished. An example is this blog post. It began as “Three Signs You’re a #kidmin Perfectionist,” then it was six. Now, it keeps going and going and going . . . Eventually you have to let something go and move on to the next task or project. Go ahead, paint that last stroke on the VBS backdrop. Send that email. Put a period on that sentence. Now, you can start planning the next kids ministry project or event.
- There had to be a seventh sign that you’re a perfectionist. Why? Because seven is a perfect number, correct? Or is it?
Landry Holmes is the Manager of Lifeway Kids Ministry Publishing, Nashville, TN. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before coming to Lifeway. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the grandparents of two adorable grand-babies.