My girlfriend is a runner. She runs every day and even participates in races. She didn’t start running until her mid-twenties and she was eager to learn as much about it as she could. She joined a runner’s club, hired me as her personal trainer and bought books on the subject. One day she shared with me her excitement upon finding a gem of a motivational statement in one of the books. It read, “Strive for progress not perfection.”
As a beginning runner it was easy for her to get discouraged watching others win the race when she was struggling just to finish it. It was discouraging for her to suffer from shin splints and leg pain after the first few outings. But this became her mantra, “progress, not perfection.” She wanted to improve and work toward perfection. However, every day she only needed to see that she was progressing. Each day she had to try.
In our faith journey God expects the same. He does not desire perfection, although this is our end goal. He wants to see progress. He wants to see us trying everyday to live a Christian life modeled after Jesus. However, some days we may feel discouraged because other people seem more “Christian” than us. Maybe they can memorize and quote scripture or maybe they have a melodic ability to pray. We can feel discouraged seeing others leading people to Jesus when we are still working on ourselves. However, God sees our hearts. He knows our intentions. And although we may fall short of where we’d like to be, God is patient and He wants us to get up, dust ourselves off and continue our walk.
This reminds me of my children working on their schoolwork. Each day they are learning something new. They come home with new assignments and new tasks in each subject. I don’t expect my kids to do perfect on their homework or their tests, but I would like to see progress. I want to see that they can now handle math concepts that were new to them at the beginning of the year. I want to see that their spelling is improving and they are working on their writing skills. I don’t expect a perfect spelling test, but I do want to see them study and work at it.
God desires the same. He wants us to try to be more Christian-like everyday. We should strive toward the end goal of perfection, but keep our attitudes in line with the goal of progress everyday.