I have been slowly working my way though this book for a number of months now. It seems I picked it up at just the right time for it to be be very relevant and challenging. I read it on an iPad, so I had no idea how in depth it would be - it turned out to be longer and more detailed than I had expected (still only ~200 pages)
Baker has taken a long, hard look at perfectionism, the dangers it brings and how the gospel of grace saves us from it.
She starts out by analysing different types of perfectionism – such as people who don’t live up their own expectations, people who are always disappointed in others who don’t live up to their expectations, people who have given up trying to meet other’s expectations and people who are trying to meet their idea of God’s expectations. It’s a good couple of chapters using specific people and situations to set the scene and illustrate her points. Part 2 starts to think about how change can take place, using Jesus as our standard and how in fact, we are not called to worship the god of perfection, but the perfect God. Baker is very good at assessing the issues and how all these problems stem from an incorrect knowledge of God. Her ultimate challenge is to see that you can never be perfect, as God is perfect, yet grace saves us so that we can worship him and live our lives relying on this perfect God.
Part 3 got more applicable, and for this I was appreciative, for up to this point I felt she had diagnosed the issues very well, but I was wondering what I was supposed to do about it. In these chapters, Baker addresses some of the issues that can be particularly challenging for perfectionists – fear of failure, pride, false humility, shame, guilt, and being able to rest. Throughout these chapters we are reminded that perfection in found in Christ, that we only fail if we fail to glorify God, and that we are to find pride in His glory, not our own.
What is interesting about this book is that you come to see how perfectionism misplaced, that is, living to any standard other than God’s, is the condition of all humanity. Unfortunately, some people will never pick up this book to see how relevant it is to them, yet it is applicable to all of us. It’s worth reading and thinking about. It made me ponder many aspects of my own character and how they are driven by the wrong motives. It will challenge you to think about how your life is to be lived for Jesus, not yourself; not because of what you can do, but because of what he has already done.