3 questions with Richard Winter

Dr. Richard Winter joins us next Friday for our annual Growth in Grace Conference.  He’ll be talking about perfectionism.  Tickets are selling out fast, so be sure to purchase them at the book table this Sunday or call the church office. What follows is a brief interview between Greg and Richard, along with a few other Winter resources.

In recent years you've written books on boredom and perfectionism. What drew you to the subject of perfectionism?

Firstly, in my family there is a strong influence of “healthy” perfectionism in the value that is placed on hard work, high standards, good grades, punctuality, cleanliness, tidiness, moral integrity, and maintaining good relationships.  What is normal? What is healthy?  The perfectionist tendencies verge on the unhealthy, contributing to indecision, procrastination, obsessive behavior, depression, and even criticism – almost contempt, for others who do not live up to the same standards.  For most of us it has been a good trait that contributes to achievement and success and does not damage relationships.  But the line is fine and the question recurs: when does being good become bad? Should I always try to be better? In some areas of life I wish I was more of a perfectionist.

Secondly, I have seen many people in my years training and practicing in psychiatry/psychotherapy who were troubled by different manifestations of perfectionism, from difficulty expressing emotions to severe obsessive compulsive disorder.  I have met highly competent and gifted people for whom their perfectionist tendencies were a great asset in their work, but a disastrous obstacle in their relationships and family life.  Students who have heard my lecture have told me their stories in person and in writing. In my counseling practice, I see many Christians with all sorts of problems about God’s expectations of them.   They are often burdened by shame and guilt, feeling that they can never be good enough to have a close relationship with God.

What's unique about the Winter family?

I am British, my wife is American, three of our children are in England and one in Chicago, so we live a mid-Atlantic bicultural life. We love sailing… somewhat ironic that we ended up in the middle of this vast continent!

And last but not least, I've heard it said that if you weren't a professor at Covenant you'd be an eco-terrorist blowing up billboards in Missouri. Is it true you aspire to being an eco-terrorist?

The bill boards that pollute the beauty of the roads and hills of Missouri inspire me to righteous anger and I dream of going out one night with a huge chain saw…!