How well I remember the early years of our young ministry, when I gathered the eager new employees of Hope For The Heart for a meeting in my home. There I announced I had an important message—a must for them to remember: “I expect you to make mistakes.”
Obviously, these words won’t be found in any handbook for new employees. But I also recognize that people—not just our little Hope family, but all of us—need the freedom to be who God created us to be … which means freedom to try and freedom to fail.
So I told our team, “Don’t be fearful if you make mistakes because I don’t expect you to know everything. You can’t know all about your job. You will make mistakes and, over a period of time, you will learn, you will grow, you will get better.”
It wasn’t long before a member of our team had an opportunity to test the sincerity of my words … on a grand scale. And later “Marcie” (not her real name) wrote these words:
“I was responsible for overseeing the production of Hope For The Heart’s very first informational brochure. But somehow, amid all the proofing and editing, the call letters for all the radio stations that aired our program were transposed. None of the call letters were correct! As a result, the brochure was completely worthless and needed to be redone. Thousands of brochures had been printed at quite a cost.
“Soon I received a call: June wants to meet with you right away. As I sat in the corner conference room, crying and wondering how in the world I could have made such a horrible mistake, I felt sure June was coming to fire me. At that moment, I looked up, through my tears, and saw her walking up the sidewalk carrying a single yellow rose. I wasn’t sure what to make of that, but knew it couldn’t be a good sign.
“How wrong was I! As soon as June entered the room, she handed me the rose and began to comfort me. She acknowledged my hard work on the project … assured me that I still had my job … and reminded me again that everyone makes mistakes. Words cannot express my shock, gratitude, and relief! I worked for Hope for nearly 15 years after this happened and … June never mentioned it again.”
Friend, I share Marcie’s story, not to shine a spotlight in my direction, but to illustrate an important lesson taught to me by my own merciful Savior. When I look back on my personal failures, I’m fully aware of how the Lord has continually given me both sides of the same coin: grace and mercy. Let’s look at the difference between these two highly significant words.
Grace means giving you a gift you don’t deserve. This gift is beautifully described in Ephesians 2:8–9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Mercy means not giving you the penalty you do deserve. Titus 3:5 describes it this way: “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”
Scripture exhorts us to interact gently with those who have failed—“If someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (Galatians 6:1). Knowing this is God’s heart when we sin, I imagine His tender mercy when I make an honest mistake!
People who fall short of our expectations—and their own—don’t need condemnation. They don’t need harsh criticism. Instead, they need to be reassured … reaffirmed … restored.
How I love our Lord’s own example of this life-changing truth in John 8:7–11 (NLT). After being confronted by angry Pharisees—asking Jesus what punishment was deserved by a woman caught in adultery—He says, “ … let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
Then we read, “When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one … until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
“And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Though many years have passed since the founding of Hope For The Heart in 1986, I still share the same message with our new employees: “I expect you to make mistakes. I don’t want you living with a demand for perfection, but rather a desire for excellence. Perfection is not the goal—excellence is.”
Romans 3:23 reminds us that we all “fall short of the glory of God.” That’s why Jesus lived, died and rose again! He is the only One who ever lived a perfect life. You and I never will.
So if you struggle with perfectionism, my prayer is that you will reexamine your true worth in the light of God’s Word—worth not based on “perfect performance.” And as you do, may you fully grasp God’s matchless grace and mercy to you … and increasingly share them with others.
Yours in the Lord’s hope,
As June describes so well in the Biblical Counseling Keys “Perfectionism: The Performance Trap,”
“For a perfectionist, the pressure is always on … and the performance never stops. The littlest blemish … the tiniest flaw … the smallest mistake is sure to raise an eyebrow and silence sought-after applause.”
There are many life issues that interfere with staying focused on God. Whether it is perfectionism, depression, unhealthy habits or stress, God desires that we seek His answers to these important life issues so that we can be in a deeper relationship with Him. Hope For The Heart’s mission is to help those who are hurting to find biblical answers to the challenges that stand in the way of being all that God desires.
Our hope is to reach more people with the message that God’s Word is relevant … and His answers change lives. Your prayers and financial support are a blessing to our ministry.
Yours in Christ,
Director of Donor Relations
If you’re on Facebook, I invite you to connect with me at Facebook.com/June.Hunt.Hope. And if you’re not, take it from me: You’re never too old to start! See you there!