Have you ever beaten yourself up? You know, scolded yourself for being so far less than perfect? As a recovering auto-beater, I have a few tips for those who still practice self-beating. All of these tips are based on the words: do your best. The problem with this expression is that the perfectionist actually hears something unattainable which means they haven't heard it all!
Have you ever been afraid to start something or even trysomething because you thought you wouldn't be good enough? Chances are you a closet-perfectionist. Perfectionists need to understand: There is a world of difference between being the best and doing your best. We can't all be "the best". But we can do our best. And sure, we could always do better than what we've just done, but doing your best involves elements such as- at this time, with what you have, and according to what you know at the time. At a different time, you might do the same thing differently and perhaps better. But when you did it, you didn't have a different time at your disposal (those who sit exams know what I'm talking about). Similarly, when you did what you did, you did it with what you had at your disposal (remember your first car?). And, perhaps you know more now than you did at the time you did what you did. But most of life's actions were done by people who were exercising what they knew at the time rather than what they were going to know! (You might have to talk with a seasoned parent to understand what I'm talking about here.)
Doing your best doesn't necessarily mean that you're doing the very best you possibly could, because: you have to do your best with the time you have, the resources presently at your disposal, and using the knowledge you currently have. Sure, given more time, better equipment and greater training, you could undoubtedly do better. But doing yourbest means you do the best you can using your available time, energy, resources and know-how at your disposal.
The Bible uses the expression, do your best, in this light.
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Second Timothy 2:15
Paul asked Timothy to do his best to come to him (2Tim. 4:9, 21) and asked Titus to do the same (Titus 3:12).
I have to constantly remind myself that even the Bible doesn't make unreasonable perfectionist demands of me. It asks me to give my best. I am asked to make the best of my time (Col. 4:5). I am asked to do my best in the service of preaching and teaching God's Word (2Tim. 2:15). I am to do my best in showing hospitality to others (Titus 3:13). And I am to do my best as a parent. I now get to the end of my days with To-Do lists unfinished, phone-calls not returned, emails unanswered, ocassions not appreciated as they deserve to be, projects half-done, and think: well, that's the best I could do today.Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing.
"He came to my desk with a quivering lip,
The lesson was done.
'Have you a new sheet for me, dear teacher?
I've spoiled this one.'
I took his sheet, all soiled and blotted,
And gave him a new one all unspotted,
And to his tired heart I cried.
'Do better now, my child.'
I went to the throne with a troubled heart,
The day was done.
'Have a new day for me, dear Master?
I've spoiled this one.'
He took my day, all soiled and blotted,
And gave a new one all unspotted.
And to my tired heart He cried,
'Do better now, my child.'"
Anon., "Do Better Now My Child"
Changing the way we think of "doing our best" should literally take the pressure off. We are no longer burdened by the expectations of others. We do what we do because we do it as unto the Lord. We then get to the end of our day with the knowledge that we practically could not have done any better, and we can sleep knowing, "That's all I can do."