BYU head decries perfectionism

By Marianne Holman

Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 7 2011 11:31 p.m. MDT

PROVO — Worthiness is not synonymous with perfection, President Cecil O. Samuelson of the Seventy and president of BYU said during the campus devotional at Brigham Young University on Tuesday in the Marriott Center. He and his wife, Sharon, spoke to students in the first devotional of the fall semester.

Perfection is not achieved quickly or at once, but more through a realistic outlook and relying on the Savior, he said.

"(Perfectionism) is corrosive and destructive and is the antithesis of the healthy quest for eventual perfection that the Savior prescribes."

Part of one's educational responsibility at BYU is to gain wisdom, personal insight and understanding as well as informed appreciation for the world, he said. A realistic perception about one's environment and themselves, as well as an understanding which options and events are under an individual's control and which are not is crucial to avoiding unhealthy perfectionism. Sometimes people have the tendency to blame others for their own deficiencies when in reality they should take responsibility. Other times, individuals blame themselves for things when circumstances were not completely under their control. Whatever the case, that thinking is unproductive and debilitating, he said.

That is why the Savior's atonement is crucial in the perfection process, he said.

"We do not and cannot become perfect in everything by ourselves," he said. "We achieve eventual perfection because, not in spite, of his grace. In a real sense, we are called to be partners with him in the perfection process."

As individuals try to do their very best — understanding that they have both strengths and weaknesses — and accept the Savior's help and follow His commandments, they are able to do their part.

"Your time at BYU and during mortal life is to move toward the ideal with hope and confidence while retaining the necessary perspective that not everything, especially perfection, can be achieved quickly or at once."

Sharon Samuelson spoke of building bridges of faith for generations to come.

"All of you here today are crossing bridges you did not build but were constructed by others to bless your lives in many ways and circumstances that which are truly remarkable," she said. "It is now your responsibility to knit your generations together by the bridges you build. ... You are now the architects and project managers of your own bridges which are to be constructed for those who will one day follow you. You must make and follow your own blueprints, secure the best and strongest materials and tools, study and gain the skills and knowledge necessary to complete the project. Your bridges will only endure when well-built."

email: mholman@desnews.com

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