This week I have been reading Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff. In his research for the book, he found that 92% of people with goals that are never finished. One of the greatest reasons that projects are left undone, rooms are left unorganized, gym memberships are unused and Bible reading plans do not make it through this month is perfectionism. Acuff explains in the book that the worst day in trying to achieve a goal is “the day after perfect.”

Bob wants to improve his prayer life in 2018 by getting up 15 minutes earlier every day and spending that time in prayer. After several weeks of doing well, he has a late night followed by too many hits of the snooze button. That morning starts late and the prayer is missed. When the next day rolls around, the streak has been broken, Perfectionism says to Bob, “What’s the point now?” Statistically, 92% of people will give up on the goal that day, because perfect is no longer possible. We miss the point when we do that. If we are people who believe we should pray more, read scripture more, be better encouragers or be more positive, we cannot allow the first misstep to end the mission. If Bob goes back to praying the next morning, wouldn’t 364 days or even 350 days of morning prayer in 2018 with the occasional late night or missed alarm be better than the 30 something days so far?

Acuff suggests a few things that might help us finish.

  1. If you have trouble finishing, admit that your current plan is not working. It’s amazing how often we do the same things expecting different results to happen.
  2. Cut your goal in half. If you have a tendency to give up, make a smaller goal that’s more attainable. If you want to lose 20 pounds, start with a goal of 10. If you have struggled with reading the entire Bible in a year, try reading the New Testament this year. For many people doing either of those things would be an accomplishment that would better their lives. If the goal was 20 pounds or the reading entire Bible in 2018, and they lost 10 pounds or only read the New Testament; most people would believe they failed.
  3. If it is not kind of goal that can be cut in half, try doubling the amount of time you have to reach the goal. If the goal is accomplished in two months instead of one, the goal is still accomplished. If we give up on day 30, we missed the opportunity.
  4. Set reasonable, attainable goals. I will not be running a marathon tomorrow. If for some crazy reason I decided that I wanted to run one, I would start by walking more. Eventually I would sign up for a 5K, then a 10K, then a half marathon. Assuming I survived all of those, I would eventually have one of those 26.2 stickers on the back of my car.


When I think of the perfectionism that Acuff describes in the book, I am reminded of Paul’s words about the law and grace in Romans 5:20-21, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The perfection of the old covenant seems unattainable, so God provides us with grace. He knows that sin will work its way into our lives but that we do not have to allow it to be our master. Like Paul describes later in 1 Timothy 4:7-8, we can finish the race. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 


– Brian

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