Perfectionism and Prosperity

We live in a time when life comes at us faster than it ever has in the history of the world. We get stressed, overloaded, and overwhelmed. Under these pressures, it is hard to remain calm… the state of mind necessary to live in harmony with the universal laws of success. Often we get discouraged and lose faith, simply because we spend so much time beating ourselves up for our flaws.

To qualify for the blessings we’re praying for requires a calm and confident state of mind. But when we’re disappointed in ourselves, it is tough to have faith. The problem is, so long as we’re not perfect, there’s always something to be disappointed about. So what do we do about that? How can we have peace of mind when we’re so imperfect? How can we achieve prosperity so long as we fall short of perfection?

Do we have to THINK, BEHAVE, and DO everything perfectly in order for the blessings to come? No.

In my book, Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Money Matters, I talk about how I had a perfectionist mentality for many years, until, after I married and had children I discovered to my dismay how literally IMPOSSIBLE it is to be perfect, even when you give it all you’ve got.

For a simple example, I’d make a commitment to study a certain amount each day or week, and I’d sit down to read… just as a baby in the other room would wake up and start to fuss. Or, I’d get the kids to bed and open my books just to hear some crying and then one of the toddlers would throw up.

It seemed that something always got in the way of my ability to make a commitment to myself and keep it. I had gotten pretty good at “self-mastery” before starting a family, but all that changed after the first baby. No longer did I have much say in how my time would be spent, even with all of my good intentions of living a disciplined, structured life.

Finally, one day I surrendered in despair. I realized I had become a cranky, sloppy person with the utter inability to finish anything I tried to start. Anything that did get done was done half-shod. I collapsed in tears and expressed to God how sorry I was that I was such a failure. I was devastated and confessed that I was doing the best I knew how, and that as poorly as I was doing, it was all I could do.

For the first time in years I felt Him really smiling down on me. It was as if He was saying, “FINALLY you realize your dependence on me! NOW we can proceed!”

Everything changed after that. How does this lesson apply to me now? I still have all the interruptions that come with family life… even more now than ever. In fact, a paper airplane just hit me in the head and I’m not even kidding.

I don’t have time to plan, prepare, and execute much of anything as perfectly, professionally, or impressively as I should. Let’s say I’m selling something, and if doing the presentation poorly could cost me the deal, I have two choices. I can either think “oh, dear… I did such a bad job” or I can think, “that’s just going to have to be good enough.”

Which mentality will bring success? Which mindset leads to prosperity?

Now that I know my best is never going to be good enough, and now that I know that God understands and is okay with that (so long as I really try), I rely on Him to make up the difference for my inadequacies. When I’m trying to do a good job and I blow it anyway, I think of Him and pray that He can make something useful out of my less-than-perfect efforts.

So long as I have believed that, I’ve seen miracles.

So then, do we have to THINK, BEHAVE, and DO everything perfectly in order for the blessings to come? No. We will not live the principles perfectly, no matter how hard we try. BUT, we can think of God when we come short, and pray for mercy.

Let me give you an example. Years ago, my husband and I made the mistake of trying to purchase multiple investment properties at the same time. The underwriters on every one of those deals became uneasy when they realized what we were trying to do. The first home went through relatively easily, but the second was more tough. The underwriters kept coming back with more unexpected hoops that we had to jump through, including having us show larger amounts available in certain accounts than what they had originally requested, as well as proving that those funds had already been seasoned for so many months, etc…

Each time we managed to jump through one hoop, they came back with yet another and another and another. Originally they only needed to see X amount in the bank and 3 months of payments in reserve. Then, seeing us as a risky investment, their requirements increased to something like X times two and 6 months in reserve, which eventually turned into a required 12 months in reserves plus a letter stating we weren’t accruing more liabilities, even though they already knew we were. It seemed as though they had long since decided not to extend the loan and were hoping we’d just give up.

After meeting their newly imposed requirements over and over, it eventually became impossible to do the next thing they asked. We were so weary that we were ready to just let it go. We had done all we could do. Then a simple thought came to mind: we don’t have to come up with all that extra money and we don’t have to do everything they are asking… all this would take is for one person in underwriting to simply have a change of heart.

Suddenly it all seemed so simple, because it was going to be so much easier for us to pray for one person’s heart to change, than to pray for another $40,000 (or whatever it was – I can’t remember) to show up in our account by the next day, WITH proof that it had already been sitting there for several months, which would have been impossible to do.

Having finally come to peace with giving it our best and letting go of the outcome, we emailed to let them know that we would not be providing them the proof of the additional unexpected funds they were requiring.

The next day, our loan officer called and said that there was only one final token request (something insignificant), and it would be a done deal. There was no more mention of the large sum of money they had wanted before. It all finally went through.

The point? “You need not run faster than you have strength.” When perfection is impossible (and it always is), God can make up the difference if you will ask for His help and then believe in Him. Do your best to only ask for those things that would be in your best and highest good, and then trust Him. (More on that…)

A woman prayed: “Dear Father, I’ve been doing really well today… so far I haven’t yelled at the kids, cussed, thrown anything around in anger, overeaten, overspent, or overlooked my responsibilities… I haven’t watched too much TV, nor driven too fast. I’ve been good natured and cheerful to everyone around me… But Father, it’s morning and time for me to get out of bed. From here I’m really going to need your help.”

That’s what it comes down to: reliance on that higher power. If you choose to believe that somehow, God makes up the difference between your efforts and what’s required, then it’s that very belief which puts you in the right state of mind to receive the blessing… even when you don’t “deserve” it. In all honesty, none of us really “deserve” it. Only by the grace of God are we even breathing. So, to reach our goals, what does He require? Belief. Belief that He has a way to make up for our failings, and asking Him to help.

So, believe you can achieve your ideal life. Do what you can, and then when needed, say to yourself, “this is just going to have to be good enough.” Can you see how thinking this way is in harmony with the laws of success? If we think we aren’t doing well enough, and if we think that our inadequacy will prevent us from succeeding, then we’re right. Trust God to fill in, believe that He will, and you can succeed.

I just got hit in the head again. I’ve tried to edit this article as I’ve gone along, and now that I’m at the end I really should run through it one more time to make sure it comes across the way I wanted it to, and make sure the sentences are readable and flowey, but a precious little 5 year old has been trying to get my attention for more than two hours, so… it’s just going to have to be good enough.

Originally published February 7, 2005

Added August 8, 2015: Those of you who have been following me for a few years know that those real estate investments didn’t go so well! So yes, be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it. Here are some related follow-up articles that you may find interesting:

Gurus are Human
Human Empowerment, In Perspective

Leslie Householder

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Judy

    Faith is believing thanks for pointing the way

  2. Hollie

    Thank you so much. You made my evening so much better. I have been having the breakdown that I am not and don’t do “enough” lately and this is JUST what I needed to remember. Thank you so much.

  3. Denise Webster

    LOVE IT! LOVE IT!! I sure needed this today! I am grateful for the difference that HE makes up! Sometimes I wonder if I really am doing all I can and wonder what my “Best” is some days. I’m grateful that HE always understands, when the rest of the family may not. =)

  4. juliet

    Hi Leslie thank you for the article, it was an interesting read. One thing though I have been in a bad position now for around 7 years since my ex husband passed away, I have had the odd job here and there and pray every day to get financial help, wether it is a job, doing my own thing (which is holding anti-bullying workshops at schools around S.A. called C.A.R E. confidence, approach, respect and empathy) or to win the lotto or powerball jackpot and I don’t seem to see any light at the end of the tunnel. I have turned to God and the angels to help and I still don’t seem to be in a better position. Am I doing this wrong?

    1. Leslie

      Hi Juliet,

      I strongly suggest you read The Jackrabbit Factor, available free HERE.

  5. Amy

    Thank you so much, Leslie! Again, you are right on the mark! I am especially touched by the prayer by the lady who said she’s in good shape today- she hasn’t done anything wrong, and now she needs help getting out of bed! That is exactly how we feel sometimes!

  6. pete

    Hi Leslie,
    Thanks for a lovely article I really enjoyed it. Great story of the ‘woman’s prayer’ as well, it made me laugh.
    May your sons aim get better, or maybe it is good already!!
    My best wishes

  7. Anne-Marie

    Thank you for this article. It puts so much more of a relaxed perspective on our lives when we see it in the way you have written. I hope you survived the hits in the head with the paper plane:)

  8. Saria

    All I can say is thank you Leslie for sharing that bit about getting hit in the head with paper planes (I certainly can relate to that). It gave me a much needed laugh, and break from too much “serious” study and work :>

  9. Donald Ray Viars

    Leslie, today’s article really nailed one of your followers. It will no doubt allow me to look at my own perfectionism in a totally different light from this point on. Thanks

  10. Rebecca

    Thank you for that inspiring article. And thank you for putting your son first because nothing in the article needed to be revised. Thanks for making the way more clear.

  11. Noah22

    Dear Leslie,
    thať’s exactly what I needed to hear today… Thank you very much!!

  12. Antoinette Santiago

    Dear Leslie and Marnie,
    Never has my life felt richer or happier than now. I have two wonderful people feeding me manna from heaven. Your encouragement everyday is like a new backbone. Thank you both and may God continue to bless you and others through you.

    Warmest regards,

  13. Karin

    I am getting this message from quite a few personal testimonies people have shared – we struggle with some issue, then let go to God – and the miracles start happening.

  14. Marnie Pehrson

    This is so true, Leslie. It’s at the point where we give up and realize our weaknesses that God’s enabling power kicks in and incredible things start to happen. Thanks for the reminder!

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