A Note from Chris Adams: The subject of perfectionism hits close to home for me since I lean that direction. I’ve learned to lay down many things, but it’s never easy when you are a perfectionist! Being a wife and mom were the first places I put major and unreal expectations on myself. This post today by Dr. Deb Douglas, Minister to Women, First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA give many practical tips for helping moms navigate reality and expectation.
Perfection. It’s the standard that many young moms set for themselves.
- Perfection in appearance
- Perfection in motherhood
- Perfection in her chosen career
- Perfection in her home
- Perfection in her children
Impossible? Yes, it is! But there is an epidemic of expectations among moms. Unfortunately, this drive for perfection with the accompanying unrealistic expectations on moms, their marriages, and their children, sets off a chain reaction of discontentment, discord, aggressive competition, and anxiety attacks.
How do we, as women’s ministers, help moms who struggle with perfection?
- Focus on priorities. Talk about priorities and how to live out these priorities in practical ways.
- Informal mentor relationships. These will supply a needed input of encouragement into the lives of struggling young moms. Encouraging these relationships to be flexible in style will help mentoring seem more doable in a busy mom’s life. Flexible suggestions:
- Text, PM, or chat on the phone instead of weekly face-to-face meetings. Put a cap on the length of these chats to keep them from becoming a challenge rather than a help.
- Build in an “out”. By limiting the length of the relationship to a short time period (4-6 weeks), the fear of commitment is removed.
- Consider having a one-time mentoring event:
- An informal evening with a coffee shop style environment
- Have someone share her story of overcoming perfectionism
- Tabletop discussion time following the story
- Assign a mentor per table
- Have questions available as discussion starters
- Encourage mentors to remain in contact with group members after the event
- Enlist prayer support before the event
- Set an example. In an attempt to keep a professional appearance or retain privacy, we as women’s ministers often keep the challenges in our lives quiet. By doing so, we inadvertently give the appearance of living a perfect life which may add to the pressure on young moms. Pray about how to balance privacy with authenticity.
- Don’t add to the expectations. Be prayerful and sensitive when enlisting volunteers. If a woman is struggling with expectations, asking her to add to her already stressful life may not be the best solution.
- Be honest. Share personal struggles with perfection, unrealistic expectations, and how God has worked through the struggles.
- Take advantage of opportunities. One young mom sharing her struggles with perfection in a small group setting can open an honest discussion among the women. Facilitate the discussion in a way that encourages moms to voice their challenges. Offer suggestions and point women back to Scripture.
“One thing is necessary” (Luke 10:38-42). Remind women what Jesus said to Martha as she scurried about trying to be the perfect hostess. Jesus explained that the one thing that is important is sitting at His feet. When time is spent at His feet, priorities become clear, perfection slips away, and life simplifies.
Dr. Deb Douglas is the minister to women at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, La., and a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier, launched her first women’s Bible study at the age of 20. Her passion is encouraging and equipping women to serve. She is also a freelance writer and contributed to Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level, Revised & Expanded. Deb graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Arts of Christian Education/Women’s Ministry and a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree. She is the wife of Paul, mom of Jared and Katie, mother-in-law to Emily and Jacob, and grandmother to Caroline.