Saturday, June 25, 2011

Facing "good" idols

At General Assembly, I was talking to a fellow pastor who confessed he and his wife' struggles with one of her "idols." She, it seems, is a perfectionist, and wrestles with it regularly.

What was interesting was my friend's comment about how he struggles with it: he said, "when she serves her idol, I benefit from it." It's nice, of course, to have a clean house, great meals, and other things that are the fruit of her skills and abilities wed to her perfectionism.

Here's the great difficulty with that, as with so many idols: they are rooted in good things. Her perfectionism is motivated out of a drive for excellence, which isn't bad nor is it sinful. The tricky part is, how do you embrace the motivation without serving the idol?

I think our addiction-prone culture has trained us to think of all idols (and addiction is surely one) in cold-turkey terms. In order to fell the idol, we have to stop all association with the activities associated with it. But how does this play out for perfectionism? For overeating? For the right exercise of leadership and power?

The antidote to a perfectionistic home-maker isn't, for example, to become a slob or a hoarder. Instead, it is to learn to serve the Lord, and not the idol, in keeping house.

How does this look for other idols?

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