Present Over Perfect

present over perfect summary
Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

Shauna Niequist

Zondervan

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“Everything is meaningless,” said a King who had tried it all. He came to this resolve after a long, futile search for meaning and satisfaction in the offerings of the world.

Introduction to Present over Perfect

One sentence summary: Present over perfect: leaving behind the frantic for a simpler, soulful way of living is an invitation to embrace the practice of being present in the plainness of life and resist the pressure to maintain an exhaustive illusion of perfection.

Favorite Quote

Shauna Niequist is a deep and poetic writer. She writes with so much clarity too. As such, there were many worthy contending quotes from Present over perfect. However, my favorite has got to be the one about an inconspicuous enemy.

“The very thing that makes you you, that makes you great, that makes you different from everyone else is also the thing that, unchecked, will ruin you.”

present over perfect quote

Insights from Present over perfect book

1. Understand the core of the human soul and value it

For what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

The recount of Shauna’s life-changing experience proves that there’s nothing more valuable than your soul.

When the value of the human soul is understood, all efforts are directed toward taking care of the essential self. That’s what good custodians do. They pay attention to the needs of what they keep and seek out solutions for them.

Present Over Perfect shines a light on some of the Soul’s needs; to love, to matter, to belong,  to rest, and play. 

A struggle, however,  most humans face is accurately discerning how to cater to the needs of the soul.

2. Don’t believe the dangerous lies the world tells.

The author, through her book, reiterates a truth that, apparently, isn’t well known: 

The offerings of this world can’t satisfy the needs of the soul. If anything it worsens it.

The world today celebrates strengths and spites weaknesses. People now think of their shortcomings as something to do away with and to want no part in. This, ultimately, causes us to bear the expensive cost of living the lie that we can do it all.

Strength incites challenge. 

Growing up in a culture that extols individual strengths will only encourage competition, proving, people pleasing, and perfectionism. It fosters the hustle mentality promising recognition, significance, and achievement. But after the dust settles what is left is exhaustion, emptiness, and insecurity.

“If I push enough, I would feel whole and proud and happy; Hard work can solve anything; My happiness is subject to people’s feelings about me.”

 The author points out these lies and more in the book. 

3. A way out is to embrace the Christian faith

The Christian faith gives us the permission and ability to exempt ourselves from the culture’s insistence on proving and competing.

We, as Christians, are no longer subject to the lies or dictates of the world. We become deeply grounded on a truer foundation as we live a confident, balanced life of prayer, rest, service, and work.

However, the Christian tradition, of late, has taken a wrong twist. 

People are forced into believing that they ought to ignore their pain and silence their screaming souls for their neighbor and for the kingdom. They’ve become hooked on that activity juice: the need to do, to be a soldier over a child, to sacrifice their bodies on the altar.

The situation, she points out, is that many are sacrificing what God has not asked them to. To that effect, she advises her readers to be the thing that God has already created them to be.

She has also created the present over perfect bible study to teach this new lifestyle from a biblical perspective.

4. Accept the invitation that whispers from deep within

In her own words; “My prayer is that this book will be a thousand invitations, springing up from every page, calling you to leave behind the heavy weight of comparison, competition, and exhaustion, and to recraft a life marked by meaning, connection, and unconditional love..”

When we turn down the volume of the hustling and bustling lifestyle, we realize that our spirit has been whispering all along. It communicates its needs and wise counsel to make it thrive.

The author points out that perhaps, one of her biggest regrets was not listening to the whispers of her essential self. She let others choose for her on her best choices: they decided what was good, what should be, and what it ought to be.

Accepting the Spirit’s invitation is the first step to finding satisfaction. It begins to feel better just by being on the right path. She invites you to join her on this journey.

Present Over Perfect Review 

Present over perfect is a beautiful and well-written piece of literature crafted from the idiosyncratic style of the author.

Shauna has expressly announced her love for books, memoirs to be more specific. It’s of no wonder to see parts of that obsession embodied in this piece.

So speaking, it is written from a subjective standpoint. With little to no objectivity, it feels a lot like reading a personal diary or self-reflection journal. (Can get untidy)

However, it is not impractical to adopt this style of writing. It is a good fit to convey wisdom in a topic such as soulful living. It allows both the author and the reader to come close enough to glean the matters of the inner human build.

I desire for every reader of Chieflings to live out, in full expression, the life God has called to. To know their worth and not seek it elsewhere. Present over perfect has been helpful in two folds: helping me articulate this desire and helping it become a reality.

Who is it for

Present over perfect is a hand to pull free from the pressure to do more, always deliver, never disappoint, and maintain a false image of perfection.

You should get a copy of Present Over perfect if;

  • You feel that your identity is tied to being seen as responsible and competent which has led to a lot of hiding, people-pleasing, and exhaustion.
  • You are a young entrepreneur starting your entrepreneurial journey and what to strike a fine life-work balance.
  •  You are a young minister of the gospel who wants to take your assignment on the stride and find great joy in your act of service.
  • You are just starting your career in leadership and want to build the foundation of a satisfactory 
  • You are new to the workspace and want to set realistic expectations on what you can offer across several distinct relationships within the work environs.
  • You pride yourself in delivering far above what others do even if it means pushing yourself to the breaking point.
  • If you‘re constantly pushing for perfection.
  • You know someone dear to you who would benefit from the knowledge inscribed into the pages of this book.

Are there other books like present over perfect?

Present over Perfect is a hand to break free from the pressure to perform and an invitation to experience a life of love, faith, meaning, and self-discovery.

There are a few books like present over perfect that share a similar theme. If you enjoyed reading Present over perfect, you’d also find the following books interesting;

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