The Fear of Imperfection
The fear of imperfection paralyzes a leader’s potential because it reduces our capacity for meaningful connection. When a leader is open and honest about their shortcomings and struggles they take a risk and become vulnerable and open to attack.
Fear of Imperfection Makes Me Want To Cover Up
Our fear of imperfection was introduced way back in the Garden of Eden.
She took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. Genesis 3:6-7 NLT
Both Adam an Eve started a trend that we have perfected today, the art of covering up. Adam and Eve used fig leaves we use smiles, busyness and position to hide ours.
Shame is alive and well with leaders, parents and pastors today. Why? Well, for me, I tell myself if you see me with all my imperfections you won’t like me, you won’t love me, you won’t value who I really am.
Shame researcher Dr. Brene Brown says, “Shame is a self-worth injury.” We have feelings of inadequacy about being seen openly for who we really are. You see, shame has incredible power because it creates powerlessness. Shame attacks a persons value and worth. Shame focuses on the person, not behavior.
Shame Speaks (And Sometimes Out Loud)
Shame tells me there is something inherently wrong with who I am and the way I am living my life.
- Shame tells me I don’t belong.
- Shame tells me I’m not worthy.
- Shame tells me I need to do better.
- Shame tells me I’m not good enough.
As I listen to what shame is saying I start to think I am not worthy, I have no value, I am not enough.
- I am not smart enough.
- I am not funny enough.
- I am not good enough.
- I am not pretty enough.
The more I listen the more shame controls my thinking. I move from how I am to how I impact others.
- I am not a good enough dad.
- I am not a good enough mom.
- I am not a good enough friend.
- I am not a good enough pastor.
The difficult part about shame’s voice is sometimes there is an actual body behind it. It’s no longer the internal voice of my thoughts but an actual person standing across from me. When that happens my first choice will always be to cover up or hide but if shame is standing in front of me, accusing me of my unworthiness then I will fight to stay safe.
The Cycle of Shame
If you take a look at the picture here you will notice the shame cycle. It starts with how we think, then what we believe and ends with how we behave.
I Think I Am Unworthy
I Believe I Am Unworthy
I Behave Like I Am Unworthy
What I Think Effects
What I Believe Effects
What I Do Effects
It’s my own way of thinking that is the biggest hurdle to finding freedom. I need to get out of my own way.
If My Fear of Imperfection Makes Me Want To Cover Up…Be Aware
1. Be Aware of How You Think
Change our thinking from “I am a bad leader” (Thought is focused on self) to “I am a great leader” who made a bad choice (Thought is focused on behavior).
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Romans 12:2a NLTse
2. Be Aware of Your Imperfection And Embrace It!
We all have our fears, flaws, and failures. Each of us, at one time or another, have tried to cover our imperfections so others can’t see them. However, it’s our imperfections that make us unique and that uniqueness puts us in a position to connect with others on a deeper level.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT
God will never waste a hurt in your life. He always redeems it for good. He will use your unique imperfection to make a difference in this world. We just have to be willing.
3. Be Aware of What God Says About You
Since shame is a self worthy injury each one of us should take some time to read and digest the following things God says about us.
When I Feel Like I Have No Future I Will Remember that God says,
I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out––plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 MSG
When I Feel Like I Have No Purpose I Will Remember, He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds, a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy. Ecclesiastes 3:11 AMP
When I Feel Like I Worthless I Will Remember, “we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLTse
When I Feel Like Shame Is Pointing It’s Finger At Me I Will Remember, “there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life- giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1 NLTse
When I Feel Like I Am A Mistake I Will Remember, to praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt. Nothing about me is hidden from you! I was secretly woven together deep in the earth below, but with your own eyes you saw my body being formed. Even before I was born, you had written in your book everything I would do. Psalm 139:14-16 CEV
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