Perfectionism is damaging to the human venture because it cuts the nerve of all effort. If I refuse to participate in an operation until I can approve every part of it, I shall wait forever. This is the meaning of the initially mystifying aphorism to the effect that the ideal best is the enemy of the concrete good” (Elton Trueblood. The Validity of the Christian Mission. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1972, p. 46)
“The ideal best is the enemy of the concrete good.” This is quite different than another piece of conventional wisdom, “The good is the enemy of the best.” How do you see these insights helping or hindering your progress?
In young adulthood, my perfectionism drove me to strive for a kind of self-defined excellence. It wasn’t very grace-flavored. As I drove myself, I also found myself driving others. Over the years, my idealism has smashed into reality so many times that my perfectionist bent has become paralyzing. I can see a much wider vision of what perfection would have to encompass, and I see it against the reality of my smallness and weakness.
What is the good work that lies at hand for you to do right now? How might you do it well and in God’s company?