Q & A Day: What’s the Difference Between Excellence and Perfection?

smaller cover NMPM editedDear Jill,

I’ve read your book No More Perfect Moms. It has been absolutely life-changing for me as I have learned to love my real life.

I have one question, though: What’s the difference between excellence and perfection?  I’m trying to figure that out as I try to move away from expecting perfection, but still having an understanding of excellence.


An Inquiring Mom


Dear Inquiring Mom,

This is a great question that deserves to be understood! Some short answers are:

Excellence is something done well.
Perfection is something done without fault.

Excellence is attainable.
Perfection is unattainable.

Excellence is positive.
Perfection is negative.

Excellence gives a sense of satisfaction.
Perfection is never satisfied.

Excellence is freeing.
Perfection is binding.

Excellence allows for failure.
Perfection punishes failure.

Excellence is motivated by confidence.
Perfection is motivated by fear.

Excellence comes from God.
Perfection comes from the world.

What does this look like in a mom’s world?

Here’s an example: A mom is supposed to provide snacks for her son’s baseball team.  Her desire is to make something homemade.  However, she’s had two sick children, a husband who’s been putting in overtime, and her parents who live nearby have needed more help than usual.  Baking is just not something that can be realistically accomplished this time.  In freedom, she picks up cupcakes at the bakery of her grocery store.  This is an excellent choice based upon her limitations and what is going on in her life. There’s no sense of failure. She accomplished what she needed to accomplish in the best way for her family.

Excellence says there are many ways to accomplish something. It allows for context. Perfection says there is only one way to accomplish something. There is no context or considerations made.

Perfection steals our joy and results in hopelessness. It sets us up for failure. If we expect perfection from ourselves we will be in perpetual disappointment. If we expect perfection from others, we will be hyper-critical.

154079671Excellence motivates us to do well within the reality of our temperament, our talents, and our circumstances.  We “hit the mark” in context of all those things.  When we expect excellence from ourselves we work toward a goal with cushioned with grace. When we expect excellence from others, we set goals and encourage under the umbrella of grace, that allows for humanity–mistakes and all.

We are motivated to excellence out of our relationship with a loving, grace-filled God who is  perfecting–or improving us–everyday. We are encouraged in Colossians 3:23 with these words, ” Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”  Excellence happens when we give our best to God, knowing that it can’t be perfect because perfection can’t happen here on earth.

Excellence is empowering. Perfection is rejecting.

I want to be an empowering wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.  That’s why resisting perfection is so important.

There are no perfect moms, just women doing the best job they can do in the circumstances of their real life.

What about you?  How have you settled the disparity between excellence and perfection in your heart? 


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10 thoughts on “Q & A Day: What’s the Difference Between Excellence and Perfection?

  1. Wow! What a great question followed by a most excellent answer! 🙂 I am printing this and posting it where I can read it often! Thank you so much for this! I needed it!

  2. My two year old used to always say, “I promise (to) do my bery best.” That sums up excellence to me. I’m tempted to set the benchmark for myself at an impossible level, but as you have so clearly pointed out in your book, God is the only one who is perfect.

  3. Wow Jill! You hit this one right out of the park. LOVED your insightful answer to this important question. Reminded me that the Bible says “an excellent wife is worth more more than jewels…” not “a perfect wife….” . Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Great stuff!!!

  4. Hi Jill.
    I love your discussion about excellence and perfection. Thank you. I came to the Hearts at Home website because I saw an article about a conference on Christianity Today. I was excited about what they said about Hearts at Home and now that I read your discussion, I just have to share. I’m reading a brand new book by Dr. Tony Evans and his daughter, Chrystal Evans Hurst that is so much in alignment with what you are saying. Maybe you know about it already, but if you don’t, I think you would enjoy it. It’s called “Kingdom Woman: Embracing Your Purpose, Power, and Possibilities.” kingdomwomanbook.com. I hope it blesses you as it has me. I am going to thoroughly explore your resources, as well!

    • Hi Heather, I’m so glad you found my blog and the Hearts at Home website! Thanks for the book recommendation, too! I will check it out!