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Guilt And Perfectionism Destroy Your Confidence

"Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God." (1 John 3:21 NIV)

You've probably noticed that your confidence ebbs and flows. It varies greatly from day to day — one day you're up, and one day you're down. What causes that?

In part, it's about what is going on inside of you. The Bible teaches, "If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God" (1 John 3:21 NIV). When we face life's hurts, habits, and hang-ups, it's important that we walk out of self-condemnation and into the faithful confidence that God forgives us.

What causes self-condemnation?

Unresolved guilt. King David wrote, "There was a time when I wouldn't admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration" (Psalms 32:3 TLB).

This reminds me of a sign I saw the other day: "A clean engine produces more power."  That's true in humans, too. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who wrote "Sherlock Holmes," once pulled a prank on 12 prominent Englishmen. He sent them an anonymous note that said, "All is found out. Flee at once." Within 24 hours, eight of those men had left the country! Guilt destroys your confidence. 

Unrealistic expectations. This is also known as perfectionism — the feeling that I must be flawless, that I must be perfect, that I must please everybody, that I always have to do more, that I'm not allowed to relax. 

If you're a perfectionist, your favorite phrase is, "I should ... I must ... I ought to ... I have to …" You're always doing more.

If you're an average person, you have three things on your daily "to do" list. You get one of them done, you leave one of them unfinished, and the third one you just forget about.  You go home and put your feet up at night and feel good about yourself. 

If you're a perfectionist, you have 29 things on your daily "to do" list. You finish 28 of them and you go home and feel like a failure! The Bible says, "Even perfection has its limits, but [God's] commands have no limit" (Psalm 119:96 NLT).

Both guilt and perfectionism cause a lack of confidence in our lives. Tomorrow we'll look at how we can replace condemnation with confidence.

Talk About It

What is it that you need to confess to God and then let go of today?

If you are a perfectionist, in what ways has it affected your confidence?


Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

This devotional © 2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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