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A Message from President Holland to Those Who Struggle with Perfectionism

A Message from President Holland to Those Who Struggle with Perfectionism

President Jeffrey R. Holland shared the following message on his social media accounts this week:

I know many who struggle with perfectionism. Around the Church I hear many who struggle with this issue: “I am just not good enough.” “I fall so far short.” “I will never measure up.” I hear this from teenagers. I hear it from missionaries. I hear it from new converts. I hear it from lifelong members.

As children of God, we should not demean or vilify ourselves, as if beating up on ourselves is somehow going to make us the person God wants us to become. With a willingness to repent and a desire for increased righteousness always in our hearts, I would hope we could pursue personal improvement in a way that doesn’t include excessive guilt trips or demolishing our self-esteem.

I believe that Jesus intended the commandment “be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father … in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) to be a tribute to who and what God the Eternal Father is and what we can achieve with Him in eternity, not a harsh verbal reminder of our shortcomings.

Except for Jesus, there have been no flawless performances on this earthly journey we are pursuing, so while in mortality let’s strive for steady improvement without obsessing about being perfect.

Hopefully we find comfort in the fact that we aren’t asked to be “perfect” alone, we are called to be “perfect in Christ.” I love this verse in Moroni 10:32-33:

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
President Holland’s words were timely for many, as can be seen in some of the comments on his post:
  • Sometimes it is hard to hear messages like this when you struggle with perfectionism – because it’s just one more thing you aren’t doing right. I appreciate that there seem to be more talks on finding joy in the gospel and acknowledgement of the hard. Joy based instruction rather than fear based. So many need hope right now.
  • My pre-teen is amazed your words came a day after she was discouraged about her shortcomings. Thank your for your inspiration, testimony, and leadership.
  • Thank you for this! I was feeling terrible a few days ago, and was unsure if I was getting sick, or was just exhausted or just especially grouchy and I was feeling pretty bad about myself for a lot of reasons, the greatest of which was not appreciating the Atonement enough. I suddenly felt the love of The Savior very strongly and then after a few minutes had the ability to get up and start working on figuring out what I should do and then doing those things and feeling better. Those things boiled down to praying, getting ready for bed and drinking water. It turned out that feeling bad about myself was not even a tiny part of path towards feeling better.
  • Thank you for this message, Elder Holland. I’ve been struggling with this idea myself recently. Forgiving myself is often harder than seeking the forgiveness of others, especially when my actions hurt my loved ones one way or another. I’ve hated myself for years over some of the things I’ve done and thought that I wasn’t worthy of forgiveness myself. Having mental illness and dealing with my own mind doesn’t help. But God is good and He reminds me every day that I am loved and He values me, and that He is more powerful than all my shortcomings. He wants me to keep pressing forward and if I fall short for whatever reason, get back up.

Kaweesi Dennis

Wednesday 10th of July 2024

This is the best message I was waiting for for along time in my life

Carol Fly

Wednesday 10th of July 2024

At times, I feel that our methods of calls and releases magnifies this feeling of self doubt. When you serve with all your heart, are not offered any suggestions or feedback positive or negative on your service and then are released unexpectedly, I think it the norm to think that somehow you weren’t good enough. I have always felt that there should be some sort of short transition period between callings so that the past and present leadership can communicate and pass the torch for a smoother transition and possibly less hurt feelings.