Let’s start with the definition of “perfection”. The word is mistranslated from a Greek word meaning to be whole, complete, finished. It has nothing to do with moral exactitude or following authority. Christ commanded to all to be perfect, and the famous scripture in Nephi says that the Lord will not give us a commandment without showing us a way that we can fulfill it. Therefore, if a person finds themselves constantly striving, but never achieving, then the thing to do is to to stop beating themselves over the head and look at what perfection really looks like.
This attitude might make the present-day general authorities mad, and your bishop might not like you telling him this, but I actually got a knowledge of this principle from an old stake president, and from Steven R Covey, in a class at BYU. We don’t achieve perfection over night, but we gain perfection in one area at a time, and we do that by making a promise to ourselves and the Lord that we know we can keep, and we keep it. To that extent, we build up our personal integrity, or our wholeness in that one area. Then, when we have mastered it, we go on to another area.
This is not striving. This is achieving. And, when you have mastered even a small area, instead of feeling discouraged, you get a sweet feeling of success and accomplishment like nothing else. This is a great feeling, and there is nothing wrong with getting addicted to this.
I didn’t get this from listening to church leaders, alone. I study the scriptures a lot, and that’s where I get a lot of my spiritual nourishment. There is a passage in the D&C that says if your eye be single to God, your whole body will be filled with light. And in the NT, Christ taught us to love God with ALL our heart, might, mind, and strength. These are just other ways of saying that we need to be whole, have integrity, be without hypocrisy and without guile.
For my own life, after fitting all this stuff together, I felt like I finally really understood what the Gospel was all about. The Gospel is doable, and a joy, not a job. It’s really not all that difficult, but the only hard part is to strictly follow it, not try to live up to some impossible, arbitrary code.