Today at the BYU-Idaho devotional Brother Arlen Wilcock counseled students on overcoming perfectionism.

Trying to Be Perfect

He shared with the students how when he was growing up he thought he had to be perfect at all times and soon found himself tying his self-worth to how worthy he felt.

 “I thought that if I were ever going to make it to heaven, I’d have to earn my way there.  The

scriptures teach that we are all sinners and that no unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of

heaven.” He said.

He is not the only one to struggle with these feelings. In his talk he shared a study that showed of 77% of active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah have perfectionistic tendencies.

This cannot be healthy.

“It’s very easy to place those expectations on ourselves and a lot of them are very high and unachievable,” Wilcock said in an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio. “So then we don’t feel good about ourselves when we don’t achieve those high expectations.”

For himself Wilcock said in his interview, that he first started to notice this was a problem on his mission while trying to exactly follow every rule.

“It’s impossible to keep every single rule, so when I didn’t- If we weren’t right in our apartment on time- then I would feel guilty about that.” Wilcocks said.

Even when he was diligently trying to follow every rule, he never felt like it was enough.

A perfectionist attitude cannot help you in your relationship with God.

Wilcock said growing up he never felt like he measured up to God’s expectations.

“I had a distorted idea of God, which hindered my ability to feel His love,” Wilcock said. “Somehow, I missed the concept that he is a loving Father in Heaven, who wants the best for me.”

Overcoming Perfectionism

Wilcock shared five different way to overcome perfectionism.


  1. Read Scriptures
  2. Study the Teachings of Church Leaders
  3. Recognize Sacred Symbols
  4. Use Resource Books
  5. Recognize the Hand of God

When reading scriptures Wilcock says it is good to find scriptures that will lift you up instead of bring you down. Don’t just look for scriptures that condemn the wicked, read scriptures that talk about God’s grace.

Other advice he gave included reading books like Within Reach by Robert Millet, weakness Is not Sin by Wendy Urick and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown.

In his interview with BYU-Idaho Radio he shared that the book by Brené Brown especially helped him.

 “If I allow myself to be imperfect than I have greater courage to try things.”

One thing he has tried that is new is fixing things around the house.

“I’m not a handy man, I’m not really good at fixing things,” Wilcock said. “There are some thing I have attempted to do lately, buying a part, getting on YouTube and seeing how to put it in.”

Just trying new things can be part of the recovery from perfectionism.

Wilcock closed his devotional saying, “I’m convinced that we can do all things through Christ, which strengthens us—throughout our lives, and not just ‘after all we can do.’”