The Perfectionist Christian

The past week was busy. And on Saturday I had one of those moments….

About a week and a half ago, my sister and I got a last minute request to sing at church. For the first song we were requested to sing was an absolutely unknown (to us) song. McCloud’s “Lord I Would Follow Thee.” For the second song, they requested it be something beautiful; not only a duet, but to include my sister’s flute playing into it somehow.


We worked hard, practiced late into the night, eschewed going out at nights with friends for the sake of practice. To do a good job, worthy of who we were singing it for.

Then. . .

Saturday morning comes. Our turn to sing. We stand up in front of hundreds of people and wait for the beautiful music track to play (A track I am rather proud of, as it is one of my finest efforts for a song that I didn’t compose). We wait for five seconds, ten, thirty. The people are stirring uncomfortably, there is an audible murmur of discontent. People are throwing dirty looks up at the balcony where the sound booth is at. Our job is to smile serenely without losing our confident stance as we direct our gaze to the guy at the sound system who is panicking and shrugging his shoulders at us….

Lizzy whispered to me to just start acapella. I refused, hoping that the technical issue would soon resolve itself. During sound check the song had played just fine! But Liz, knowing that this waiting is more uncomfortable for the audience than it is for us seasoned performers (not to brag, but we are pros), began when the wait got painfully protracted.

She began singing with her clear, lovely voice. I have to follow. We split into harmony. I do melody, she does upper harmony, the notes are angelical, the message is heavenly. Hey, it does not sound half bad! We will be able to pull this off!

Then the music track begins playing! I have to rely on my knowledge of the music track which I myself made to know what verse of the song it is now playing at so we can just jump on in at the next verse.

We finish the song. People clap. I walk off, upset, I have to run upstairs to give someone a piece of my mind….

But before I can exit the sanctuary, the morning prayer time begins. I can’t exit the nave, and feel like I am forcefully subjected to prayer and contemplation of my tempestuous feelings. I am glad for that prayer time. I didn’t exactly pray, but those short minutes calmed me down–ten seconds would not have been enough, you know.

* * *

I take pride in what I do. If I am expected to do something, I will make sure that it is right and beautiful, and excellent, and hopefully better than anyone else’s. Yes. And I’m also a perfectionist.

God knows that I carry this mentality into what I do for Him as well. So as I thought about this today, all I can say is that the lesson God wanted me to learn was patience. As a leader, or just as someone who has to be a team player, I have to be excellent in what I do, but also be mindful of others and their feelings. I could have stormed upstairs, thrown a fit, or I don’t know what, and then felt bad about it. After the prayer one of the sound tech guys approached me and told me that the guy at the booth had gotten confused and had pushed up the wrong slider (or fader, whatever you call it to bring up volume) on the sound board, so while the CD was playing fine, the volume was turned low.

When I went upstairs (to make sure the track for my sister’s song would be played properly and the thing wouldn’t happen again) the guy apologized profusely. What did I do? I smiled and told him it was alright and that “all’s well that ends well” or some such other nonsense. By the time my sister’s song came, he was like a tiger, absolutely prepared, focused, and all went good.

After the service many people approached us and congratulated us on the beautiful music–but most particularly on how we handled  the first song. It was brave, our pitch was very good, our harmonies sublime. We did not wither but rose to the challenge, etc.

It’s sad that people missed out on the message of the first song, though… And that as I sang the song in that stage with thunder and wrath in my heart, missed out on it as well…

Saviour may I learn to love thee, walk the path that thou hast shown
Pause to help and lift another, Finding strength beyond my own
Saviour may I learn to love thee, Lord, I would follow thee
Who am I to judge another when I walk imperfectly
In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see
who am I to judge another, Lord, I would follow thee
. . . Saviour may I love my brother as I know thou lovest me
Find in thee my strength my beacon, For thy servant I would be
Saviour may I love my brother, Lord, I would follow thee
(Susan McCloud, “Lord, I would follow thee” V 1,2,4)

In our pursuit of spreading the gospel–and doing so with excellence–may we not forget the heart of the message we preach. Let’s love God. Let’s love our brothers. Doing so even when it is difficult shows that we are, indeed, Christians.


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