As a teacher of talented, highly motivated students, I often find myself in conversations with them about the perils of perfectionism. I find myself reminding my students of something I constantly have to remind myself: the perfect is the enemy of the good. Perfectionism traps me in the prison of self, forcing me to constantly think about myself and what I could do better, rather than the good that is already at work.
The absurdity of the image of a camel passing through a needle’s eye only serves as the setup for the next hammer Jesus drops: “For men this is impossible.” No amount of my perfectionism, no extra task, no extra effort can allow me singlehandedly to make the reign of God come, and trying too hard turns my focus to myself, my ego, my riches. Where am I being called today to let go of my own designs on the perfect and instead notice God’s possibilities?
—Matthew Spotts, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic teaching history and religion at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, Indianapolis IN.