I am not sure of the exact point in life where I developed the "bent" to be a little bit too much of a perfectionist, but the desire to always succeed, always get it done, always have myself together, etc., just about drove me nuts! Not to mention the other people in my life! The perfectionist takes life way too seriously! I have a message of hope for those of us who suffer way too much from "having it all together". The focus on always having it together leaves very little room for the spontaneity God needs for us to have in service to him.
Going through the motions doesn't please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice. (Psalm 51:16-17 The Message)
David said it well - going through the motions doesn't please God, nor does having our act all together! Both are extremes, aren't they? One is the extreme of just being in the game, but not really having any "skin" in the game. The other is one of having to be the one in "control" of the game! Neither one is impressive in God's book.
Perfectionists have a difficult time with their own performance - not allowing God to really be the "evaluator" of it. Perfectionists don't like to fail and they about drive themselves crazy when they do! In avoiding failure, they often don't take risks outside of their "comfort zone". I want to let you in on a little secret - I have probably learned the most valuable lessons in my failures! Without the failures, I'd never have grown in the areas where I have. It was these failures which challenged me beyond my capacity - actually expanding my spiritual growth. The willingness to step out of my "comfort zone" was the first step to overcoming my "need" to be "perfect" in all I did.
Perfectionists also drive others nuts - because their demands extend beyond themselves. By our "drive" to be perfect, we often expect others to rise to the same level. When they don't, we get really wigged out. We either experience the extremes of disappointment at their "performance", or we try to intervene to "help" the other "get it right"! Sound familiar to any of my fellow perfectionists? Whenever we step in, taking over control again, we are either "enabling" the other to perform poorly, or we are keeping them from ever developing the "skills" they need. Either way, we are simply maintaining control and the other is pushed away in the process.
The hardest lesson for the perfectionist is found in the passage above. David sums it up very well - we learn the most when our pride is shattered. Perfectionists have a hard shell - difficult to penetrate. Sometimes, it takes a little work for God to bring us to the place of humble examination of our hearts. When the moment comes...we can either embrace it, or pull away in absolute horror at the possibility of "losing control". Pull away and we will miss out on one of the "teachable moments" God has prepared for us. Embrace it, allowing God to penetrate the thick shell of our pride, and we will likely find a new facet to our character we had never seen.
Perfectionists often struggle with pride. Here's another little insight from my own life - nothing I possess in the way of talent, knowledge, or expertise compares to the greatness of my God! The very best day with me in control of everything is really just a joke compared to the ability of my God when I finally yield control to him. In the "risk-taking" of trusting God with control, I might fail - you might, too. In the "risk-taking", we do something outside of our "comfort zone". God can do much with those who are willing to "step out" of the lines we have drawn for ourselves - lines which only serve to keep us bound up in sets of rules, demands, and unrealistic expectations.
So, I know this does not come as a "popular" lesson to the perfectionist - but it is truth. God needs to get "inside" our lines and he needs to get us "outside" of those lines. The pride which drives us to the point of perfection is actually driving us further away from what God desires for us - freedom in Christ. In the failure, the lessons are enormous - and they are freeing. In the rigidness of remaining in control - these lessons are missed. The perfectionist protects himself, but he drives others away. God's perfection is infinitely more complete than ours could ever be - and it doesn't repel others, it draws them near. We have much to gain in "giving up" what we so desperately hang onto. In our "giving up", we are actually "allowing in" what we so desperately need - God's help! Perfectionists don't like to admit they need help - but from one perfectionist to another - we definitely need help! Just saying!