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“The Christmas present was perfect, with one exception”

The pursuit of perfection may be one of the most frustrating undertakings I regularly attempt. I want a car without dents. I want my sermons to come off without a hitch, but when I preach I stumble over words and forget what is supposed to come next. I want to dispense wise advice to my young adult sons, but when the opportunity presents itself, more often than I care to admit, I end up saying something I wish I could take back. I do not even know where to start when it comes to talking about my role as life partner and husband.

For the most part I have become convinced that I need to start each day by saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to do or say that, please forgive me.” My guess is that I am not alone in this. Failure is something many people fear. The fear of failure all too often keeps people from stepping into leadership roles.

I want to suggest something that may seem counterintuitive. Failure and imperfection are essential leadership qualities. I might go so far as to say imperfect people (leaders) should be understood as a necessary prerequisite in church, politics, home life, and business.

Stay with me.

When I am perfect, there is no room for other people or ideas. Perfection leaves a person all alone. When I fail or get things wrong, it creates an opportunity for others to step in, help out, or smooth things over. Imperfection is a reminder that we are better together and need each other.

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 suggests that any one of us only knows in part and at best we see through a mirror dimly. In other words, to be human is to screw up from time to time. It is in these moments of failure that a space is created for approaching things differently.

In 2018 I resolve to find ways to embrace my imperfection!