According to the WSJ, researchers at Michigan State: perfectionism “appears to be greatly due to genetic risk factors as well as the unique experiences people have outside the home.”
So the reason I cannot- absolutely cannot, under no circumstances, no matter how long it takes me to rewrite everything- have any scratched out words or misspellings or edits-to-be on my sermon manuscripts, to do lists or planning calendars isn’t just by quirk of personality it’s because my mom is/was a perfectionist the nth degree. I’m hard-wired that way.
But perhaps I’m hard-wired that way not just by virtue of genetics. Or rather maybe my genetic code alone doesn’t get all the way to the bottom of the matter.
Perhaps I’m hard-wired by the Almighty to desire almighty-like things.
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, took many of his theological cues from Eastern Orthodox Christianity rather than Western (Catholic and Calvinist) models. Whereas Western Christians, at times believing more in sin than grace, have traditionally taken a dim view of human nature and the goodness of which we’re capable, Eastern Christians have typically argued that ‘grace works.’ Namely, the operation of the Spirt upon us cleanses us of our sin nature and fashions us more and more into the image of God which God originally desired.
Wesley termed this process, which is really the work of the Christian life, ‘sanctification,’ our growing in holiness that has as its destination or outcome ‘perfection.’ The Orthodox call this ‘divinization.’ Methodists are people who believe that we’re not simply sinners and that’s how we stay. Methodists believe we can with God’s help become perfect in love as Jesus was perfect in love.
So then, maybe we’re hard-wired towards perfectionism because we’re made in the image of God who is perfect and the Spirit, by hook or by crook, is nudging us along towards that God who is perfect.