Why You Can Pursue Excellence and Skip Perfection

Excellence is simply doing what you can, with what you have, where you are, as you are.

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

Whenever someone starts talking about how it’s okay not to be perfect, I can watch the women in the room begin to squirm (myself included).

Yes, we desperately want more grace and freedom in our lives. But we also have this fear that if we let ourselves off the hook, everything will just go to pieces. We won’t do a good job anymore. Our parenting will be halfhearted. Our work will be shabby. Our house will get a visit from the health inspector. So let’s get this clear right up front: not being perfect doesn’t mean you don’t work hard and try to do well.

We’re clearly told, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Col. 3:23). We’re not to slack off, become lazy, or do less than what we can because of grace. Instead, God’s love and kindness become motivation for our hard work.

But we’re also not told, “Whatever you do, do it perfectly.” Working “with all your heart” simply means being intentional about what we do and doing it out of love. Pursuing excellence leads to joy and satisfaction. Pursuing perfection leads to burnout and frustration.

Excellence is simply doing what you can, with what you have, where you are, as you are.

Let’s take a deep breath, whisper a prayer, release our grip on perfection, embrace grace and live with love–which the Apostle called “the most excellent way.” That really is enough for one day…and one wild, beautiful lifetime.

XOXO,

Holley Gerth

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You've Loved No Matter What

Seeing your pictures of You’re Loved No Matter What is so encouraging! Photo taken by Lander.

Welcome to the Coffee for Your Heart weekly link-up! You’re an encourager so I’m asking you to pour out a little love with your words every Wednesday {link-up goes live at 5:30am CST}. Simply write an encouraging blog post and then share it here. Don’t have a blog? You can still write an encouraging comment. If you’re reading this by email, go to holleygerth.com to see all the fun and join in too.

Giveaway and Optional Writing Prompt: For the next few weeks, the Wednesday posts are going to be about getting free from the pressure to be perfect. I’ll have an optional writing prompt for you about that topic. If you write about it, link up and include my new book You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect in your post somewhere, you’ll be entered to win a God’s Heart for You necklace {U.S. residents only}. Thanks to DaySpring for providing the necklaces! Congratulations to Tasha for winning last week! If you don’t have a blog, you can share today’s post on Facebook, leave a comment here saying you did and answer the prompt in your comment.

The prompt for today was: Where does perfectionism sneak in and how can you replace it with gratitude?

Next Wednesday’s prompt is: What does ‘excellence’ mean or look like to you?

Pretty please use this button in your blog post so others can easily join in with us {html code in right sidebar}. And when you link up your post, take a moment to leave an encouraging comment on the one that’s linked up just before yours. Thanks, friends!

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A Better Kind of Ambition

InTheQuiet

The words sit on a table in the office my husband and I share now that we both work at home. And no matter how many times I read them, they feel like a mystery to me:

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you. (1 Thess. 4:11)

I keep waiting to walk in one day and find an angelic sticky note that says, “Sorry, that sentence was a bit of a typo. What God really meant was…

Make it your ambition to change the world.

Make it your ambition to help everyone.

Make it your ambition to be perfect.

But every day when I come in those words are the same. And over time I’m slowly realizing maybe I’m the one who needs to change.

As someone who has found much of her worth in busyness, I’ve not appreciated the value of quiet. But God keeps drawing me deeper into a season with more silence and stillness.

I can relate to what Joanna Weaver shares in Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World:

While there are many things that need to be done, things I’m capable of doing and want to do, I am not always the one to do them….What’s more, I may be stealing someone else’s blessing when I assume I must do it all.

How I wish I would have learned earlier in ministry to wait upon the Lord. Much of my energy and joy has been swallowed up by jobs and obligations that were not my own. I still tend to rush in, presuming to know his will rather than waiting to hear what he desires.

It is a costly mistake, for often, when the Holy Spirit does ask something of me, I’m either knee deep in another project or too exhausted from my latest exercise in futility to do what God wants of me.

It’s in the quiet I can hear God whisper, “This is good but not My best for you.”

It’s in the quiet my soul is restored.

It’s in the quiet I learn life is more about being than doing.

Continue reading by joining me today over at (in)courage?

 

XOXO

Holley Gerth

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Jesus Wants to Lighten Your Load Today

When we slow down, rest and let go it's beautiful as well as powerful because it says to a watching world: "Our Shepherd is good. And, yes, He can be trusted." http://holleygerth.com

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

“What’s your most important value?” the group leader asked one morning during a Significant Woman study I did years ago. When it was my turn to respond I declared, “Growth!” with great enthusiasm.

I wanted to grow in every way. Spiritually. Socially. Emotionally. Mentally. And I thought doing so meant saying “yes” to every opportunity that came along. Surely anything I did for God must be good, right?

As time went by I began to feel an inexplicable weariness. My initial reaction was to simply try harder. Surely if I just helped others more, spent additional time doing spiritual things and even increased my exercise routine — then I’d be reenergized. Instead it seemed the weight on my shoulders increased. I even began to have physical symptoms.

Unable to push myself any harder, I finally let Jesus take hold of my heart in a new way. For months it seemed as if He took layer after layer off my “growth.” I started saying “no” more often. I let go of commitments He’d never asked me to make. I released expectations and a chronic desire to please everyone. Whew. I felt so much lighter.

So I laughed out loud in recognition when I saw a story about a sheep who had sneakily avoiding shearing for six years. The farmer who captured Shaun the sheep said, “He couldn’t see very well because of the wool over his face, so I snuck up behind him and grabbed him.”

Shaun the Sheep photo via ABC News

Shaun the Sheep photo via ABC News

I’d lived like Shaun the sheep in my pursuit of endless growth. And my vision had become compromised, too. I couldn’t see that I was carrying far more than Jesus required. He called out to my weighed down, wandering heart, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). He set me free from what seemed “good” and gave me what was truly best…

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul. (Ps. 23:1-3)

There’s something I now value far more than growth: obedience.

If I could go back to the younger version of myself sitting in that study I would say this to her:

I know you want to do great things and you believe that’s what God desires from you, too. But only one thing is needed: staying close to your Shepherd. Let Him take care of you. Let Him lead you. You don’t have to prove your worth to Him by what you can produce. He loves you just as you are.

I want to whisper that to your heart today, too. (We’re in the same flock, after all.) 

When we slow down, rest and let go it’s beautiful as well as powerful because it says to a watching world: “Our Shepherd is good. And, yes, He can be trusted.”

XOXO

Holley Gerth

P.S. Looking for Graduation Gifts? You’re Already Amazing, You’re Made for a God-sized Dream and Opening the Door to Your God-sized Dreams will encourage the graduates in your life!

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Beauty Comes from Broken Places

Growth is a process, not an event. #YoureLovedNoMatterWhat by @holleygerth http://holleygerth.com

There’s an old story about two pots. One was perfect in every way. The other had cracks and broken places. Each day a woman filled the pots with rainwater she collected and then carried them down the path to her home. The first pot felt proud that she never leaked a single drop. The other felt ashamed because no matter how hard she tried, she spilled a lot along the way.

One day the two pots overheard the woman talking with someone who lived nearby. The neighbor exclaimed, “The flowers along your path are so beautiful! What’s your secret?”

The woman answered, “One of my pots is broken, and the water that spills out helps the flowers grow every day.”

We think that we have to take what’s broken and make it perfect in order to be used by God and bless others. But God thinks in a completely different way. He took what was perfect, His Son, and made Him broken in order to bring us healing.

So if you’re sitting there wondering if God can use you because your life is not as it should be, and your heart is aching—know that your greatest hurt will probably be your greatest ministry. Like the disciple Thomas who doubted until he touched the scars of Jesus, some people in your life need to see your broken places more than your victories.

We’re all like the second pot in the story. God sees purpose in our brokenness even when we don’t, and He can use it to bring forth beauty that blesses those around us.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

From You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect

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*****

JennTaylorYoureLovedNoMatterWhat

I love this picture taken by Jenn Taylor!

Welcome to the Coffee for Your Heart weekly link-up! You’re an encourager so I’m asking you to pour out a little love with your words every Wednesday {link-up goes live at 5:30am CST}. Simply write an encouraging blog post and then share it here. Don’t have a blog? You can still write an encouraging comment. If you’re reading this by email, go to holleygerth.com to see all the fun and join in too.

Giveaway and Optional Writing Prompt: For the next few weeks, the Wednesday posts are going to be about getting free from the pressure to be perfect. I’ll have an optional writing prompt for you about that topic. If you write about it, link up and include my new book You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect in your post somewhere, you’ll be entered to win a God’s Heart for You necklace {U.S. residents only}. Thanks to DaySpring for providing the necklaces! Congratulations to Asheritah Ciuciu for winning last week! If you don’t have a blog, you can share today’s post on Facebook, leave a comment here saying you did and answer the prompt in your comment.

The prompt for today was: What truth do you need to be reminded of?

Next Wednesday’s prompt is: Where have you seen beauty from brokenness?

Pretty please use this button in your blog post so others can easily join in with us {html code in right sidebar}. And when you link up your post, take a moment to leave an encouraging comment on the one that’s linked up just before yours. Thanks, friends!

{Click to tweet that you’re joining me here today!}


Healing Our Souls from Hurry

God isn't in a hurry. He never runs out of time because He has eternity. So do we. http://HolleyGerth.com

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

I sit on the back porch rocking in a chair and staring at the trees. It’s hard for me to be here in this place of stillness. My to-do list tugs at my mind, beckons me back inside, but I pull my knees closer to my chest and stay.

I watch birds find dinner at the feeder. A baby squirrel balances tentatively on a limb. The laughter of children drifts over the fence. The trees whisper “shhh, shhh” with their branches. And it seems they are speaking to the stream of thoughts running endlessly through my mind.

I think of the first Psalm where a person who walks closely with God is described as being “like a tree planted by the rivers of water…that brings forth fruit in its season.”

Fruit in its season. 

That phrase feels awkward to me. It’s not instant or immediate. It implies waiting and patience. It doesn’t fit in our fast-paced, get-it-done, make-every-second count world. But as I stare at the trees I’m reminded of how we’re created to live. We need silence and stillness because it’s in those moments that growth happens.

Fruit in its season.

I think of the blueberries now ready just down the road. I wait all year for those berries. And they taste so much sweeter because of the wait. God isn’t in a hurry. He never runs out of time because He has eternity. So do we. And God doesn’t need me to make five, fifteen, or forty more bushels. The expectations I place on myself are more mine than His.

As Ann Voskamp says, “Haste makes waste. The hurry makes us hurt.

I seem to hear another whisper as I sit on the porch. This time it comes not from the branches of the trees but from within my heart. The One Who Loves Me whispers “Shhh, shhh.” It sounds like an invitation that could heal my soul. And this time I listen, embracing the new stillness in and around me.

There will be time for fruit tomorrow, or the next day…whenever the season is right.

I hope you have a restful weekend, friend.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

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