I get the impression that some people are.
Whether we’re talking about moral standards, relationship standards, housekeeping standards, or whatever, they are apparently more associated with guilt, shame, discomfort, and fear than anything else. Or else annoyance, because of the guilt, shame, and discomfort they make you feel.
High standards don’t scare me.
One of my college professors had a sign on her office door that said: “While perfection is our goal, excellence will be tolerated.” While it did make me chuckle, it didn’t scare me or intimidate me.
Housekeeping manuals don’t disgust me.
The Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t make me feel like a failure (nor does she annoy me).
Calls for obedience, righteousness, devotion, etc., in the Christian life don’t intimidate me.
High standards of conduct don’t seem like enemies.
It’s not because I’m perfect (ha!). I’m not super woman. In fact, I’m closer to sub woman. I really am not excellent.
I do experience healthy embarrassment, shame, and even guilt, but I’m not in a constant state of misery because I’m not good enough or because the goal is so far away from where I am.
It’s not that I don’t struggle with anxiety or discouragement, either (I definitely do). . . But despite everything, high, sensible standards continue to be a positive thing in my life. It’s the other stuff that’s the problem.
It occurred to me that if I am going to set and promote high standards at Keeping Home, from homekeeping to family life, to faith to, well, I guess we could includes arts and crafts in there too, the nice thing to do would be to share my secrets.
Standards are useful and I believe in aiming high. If we don’t strive for excellence we run the risk of missing out on something really great.
But they can be intimidating, especially if we are just never good enough.
So here they are, in no particular order, 32 reasons I’m not afraid of high standards (and you don’t need to be either). Some of them apply more to one category of standards, some to another, but they’re all pretty powerful when you embrace them.
The Reasons I’m Not Afraid of High Standards
#1 Excellence is where you end up. It’s not where you start.
#2 God is love. Love is patient.(1 John 4:16, 1 Corinthians 13:4)
#3 God is love. Love is kind. He’s not out to get you. (1 John 4:16, 1 Corinthians 13:4)
#4 God is gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. (Psalm 103:8)
#5 He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. (Hebrews 4:15)
#6 Of mine own self I can do nothing. (John 15:5)
#7 If your standards are no higher than you are currently able to reach, you will never be a better person than you currently are. And that, my friend, scares me.
#8 “For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” There’s a lesson in this. (Mark 4:28)
#9 “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” We can’t all do what so-and-so does. We’re not even meant to. (1 Corinthians 12:11)
#10 “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14)
#11 There is always something in everyone’s life that interferes with how things should be. It doesn’t make sense to pretend that you don’t have problems and should therefore be able to achieve the ideal in every area of your life.
#12 You never know just how high you can fly unless you try. If you aim low, that’s all you’ll ever get.
#13 Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
#14 “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.” I love this passage. (Jeremiah 10:23-24)
#15 It is God who works in us to both to will and to do of His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)
#16 I’m more focused on a way of life than on a destination.
#17 His strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
#18 “He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light.” (Psalm 37:6)
# 19 “The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11)
#20 Who of you by taking thought (worrying) can add a single cubit to his stature? It doesn’t work that way, so why fret? (Luke 12:25)
#21 A standard is like a target. Even if you never expect to hit the center, you’re more likely to hit the target somewhere if you aim for the center.
#22 An enemy hath done this. You’re going to be sabotaged. That doesn’t make you a failure. (Matthew 13:28)
#23 I love beauty. I love peace. I love order. I love love. I honestly desire the things high standards represent.
#24 “For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.” (Psalm 18:29) It has happened to me (although, um, not literally a troop and a wall!).
#25 “Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.” (Psalm 108:13)
#26 “A” is perfect, “B” is good, and (in most cases) “C” is still a passing grade. Instead of lowering standards to where most people are already at, I think a better idea is to aim for the ideal, study hard (so to speak), and be okay with the best “passing grade” we can achieve. In education, continually lowering the standards would eventually destroy the very value of education. In the same way, always lowering standards to meet our present realities would result in a downward trend. I don’t want that. I like quality.
#27 God is the potter, we are the clay. (Isaiah 64:8)
#28 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)
#29 Rest and recreation are not the privileges of those who have gotten everything done. Rest and recreation are necessary parts of life. “Work before play” and “Work before rest” may be good principles (they have their place) but they are not the only principles. God made the evening come before the morning. Did you ever really notice that? That’s rest before work. You have to rest so that you can work. It’s not just a reward (although it can be that). It’s a necessity so that you have the ability to work. Some of us need more rest than others.
#30 “It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.”(Psalm 18:32)
#31 Having high standards is not the same as being a perfectionist. Perfectionism is the inability to accept anything less than perfect, regardless of circumstances, and sometimes even the inability to recognize perfection when it exists. High standards are, to me, more like a road map. They show us where to go.
#32 High standards are not a list of what’s wrong with you. They’re opportunities. They don’t condemn, they show us a better way.
So there are some of my secrets. There are probably more, but I think you get the idea. 😉
I’m mostly energized by high (but sensible) standards, not discouraged.
Yes, I do get overwhelmed. Yes, I cringe when I realize that I really should clean my toilet
as often as once a week more often. But high standards are my friends. They are my target—not a weapon aimed at me and I think that makes all the difference.
High standards are not the enemies. Fear, lack of faith, poor self-worth, impatience, and perfectionism are the enemies. And the weapons are in my hands.
What an amazing post and so true! Why on earth would we want to aim low? Let’s make goals and improve!
In a similar vein, I always thought that shame and guilt were great blessings to direct you to growth and change, these days they are talked about like they are horrible evils.
Right? We have to be realistic and patient but that’s not the same as aiming low!
As for shame and guilt, I have noticed that too. There are such things as false guilt and shame, shaming, and unhealthy ways of dealing with guilt and shame, but guilt and shame are not inherently evil. But often, that’s all the world has. They don’t understand right and wrong, or grace and forgiveness, so they’re left with the junk. I don’t wonder that they don’t like guilt and shame under those circumstances. 🙁