Replacing the idol of perfection in our planning with the Lord’s purposes

Written by Jami Lee Gainey
Published on March 09, 2021

It’s easy to fall into one of two extremes when it comes to planning our days as parents. We either plan to the point of becoming crippled and devastated when plans don’t work accordingly, or we fail to plan due to the feat of imperfection in how the plans will come to fruition. 

Why bother planning if something is bound to happen which knocks our plan off course? 

Personally, I love a plan and structure. I really believe we do well to have plans in place as a starting point. 

However, God is teaching me how to move through my plans with fluidity and a sensitivity to his leading in each and every moment of my day. I can tell he’s growing my heart in these areas, which can be seen through what seems to be contradicting passages in Proverbs. 

Purpose and sanctification

Proverbs 12:20 tells us: “Those who plan peace have joy” (ESV). I’ve always found such guidance in this truth—it is good for us to make plans for peace and to think through moments in our days that may be repeatedly chaotic to try to make plans for peace. 

Although peace should not be our idol, we do well to walk through our days with purpose and intentionality. 

Joy is found there, too! 

But Proverbs 19:21 also speaks of plans: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” 

I think it’s important to understand these two verses not as contradictory but as complementary to one another. It is good to have plans and make plans moving forward, especially ones we pray through and desire to have to promote peace and joy in our homes. This is not a bad thing, and it’s something to be encouraged! 

And it’s important to do so with an understanding that sometimes (perhaps often) those plans won’t unfold exactly as we envisioned them . . . and maybe that’s not the point of planning. 

Perhaps the point is the process of sanctification and character development that happens in us when we take the time to prayerfully ask for God’s guidance in our plans. Then we act by trusting him in the process as the details unfold and we follow his lead throughout the actual living out of our days. 

The idol of perfection

Here’s one example of how God has been showing me this. For about six months, I’ve noticed the need in our home for a chore routine in our family. 

We’ve needed a system, but I’ve repeatedly tried to claim that we could function well on it being more organic—me simply telling my children in the moment what to do based on what needed to be done. But, after months of trying it this way, the result has largely remained the same—and it’s not a peaceful one. 

There tends to be chaos more times than not, and I’m exhausted at the decision fatigue of telling my kids what to do, as well as toward their steady resistance to what I’m asking. 

When I began to consider why we didn’t have a system in place yet, the answer wasn’t hard to find. 

I was allowing the idol of perfection to cause me to hesitate. 

I’d looked at a few chore charts before but didn’t think I had quite perfected what it should look like for our family, so I kept concluding that “it just isn’t ready yet.” Again, as if the goal is a perfect chore chart? 

Goodness, God convicted me of that. 

I felt God whisper to me, through the midst of a chaotic Monday morning, that we simply needed to begin. 

I had a system someone had given me. I could make a few minor adjustments (like changing the names of the kids at the top of the chart, haha) and simply begin. I remember doing this with our school schedule when we first began homeschooling and how much freedom the Lord gave me once I just started

It doesn’t have to be perfect for us to begin, friends. Let’s sketch a plan and simply start, knowing there is no rule that says we can’t change our plans as we go, and edit and tweak here or there. 

Isn’t that what life is? Isn’t that what parenting is? Aren’t these children entrusted to us steadily experiencing growing pains? 

Cultivating a greater dependence

What works in one season may not work for another. But we take a step forward with the plans in our hands, holding them loosely, and cultivating a greater dependence on the Lord to show us how to adjust and adapt things as we walk through it day by day and moment by moment. 

Our chore routine is not perfected yet—it likely never will be. But having that plan in place has already brought more peace to our home, and I feel like God is blessing the efforts to move forward despite the lack of perfection. 

Let’s be faithful to do that in our chore charts, school schedules, family plans, goal-setting, resolutions . . . all of it. 

Have a plan. It’s good and fruitful. 

Don’t let the fear of imperfection stop you from implementing your plan. And trust that, ultimately, we are being guided by the purposes of the Lord, and he will lead us in the direction we should walk. 

And remember—when our plans don’t unfold as we anticipated, we can continue walking with our good God and trusting that he’s simply redirecting us, and we can be grateful for his guidance. 

Live perfectly imperfect

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Jami Lee Gainey

Jami Lee is a Christ-follower, wife to a pastor, and momma to three littles (ages 8, 6 and 2). For “jobs”, she’s blessed to be a Charlotte-Mason inspired homeschool mama, serves on staff at iGo Global, and also has an online health and fitness coaching business. You can read more of her writing on her personal blog, where she seeks to encourage others in similar seasons of motherhood, ministry, homeschooling and cultivating sustainable stewardship in every area of life.

Read more about Jami Lee

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