It happened again. Even as I sat down to write this blog post, that all too familiar, discouraging voice started shouting within me:
“Why did you sign up for this?”
“You don’t have anything good to write about”
“Other people are better writers”
“You always procrastinate like this, you’ll never finish it in time”
This is the voice that accompanies me all the time, especially when I’m working on something difficult and important. This voice has led me to avoid, delay or flat out refuse to do things God was calling me to do because I questioned whether or not I really had what it takes.
Yes, we need to talk to ourselves, but it also matters WHAT we tell ourselves.
The world would tell me in order to deal with these feelings of inadequacy I should look within myself. I should look in the mirror and deliver a great motivational speech:
“You can do this.”
“Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.”
“You is smart, you is kind, you is important.”
That may pump me up temporarily, but the problem is these statements aren’t fully true. I can use the power of self-talk and practice everyday for the rest of my life and I will still never dunk a basketball like Lebron James. Actually, I won’t dunk at all, I can barely touch the net!
That’s why it’s not enough to simply talk to ourselves when we feel inadequate. Yes, we need to talk to ourselves, but it also matters WHAT we tell ourselves. We must tell ourselves the truth. And here’s the truth about inadequacy: I feel inadequate because I am.
My inadequacies don’t stand in the way of the work God wants to do in me and through me.
God created me with limitations and I have to embrace that. The good news is, God is a limitless God and He specializes in using inadequate, limited, flawed, sinful people. These two simple truths “I am inadequate, but God is able” have helped me press into my fears even when I’m battling the voices in my head. When I am tempted to avoid something important because my fears of inadequacy overwhelm me, I reflect on this verse the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church:
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 1 Corinthians 1:25-27
I don’t naturally have what it takes to do what God is calling me to do. But since when has God ever needed me to be adequate for Him to use me in a great way? God doesn’t use the strongest, the smartest and the most talented. God uses the weak. He uses those who know they are inadequate, yet they are still willing to walk in obedience to Him.
Looking back at my life, I realize my inadequacies don’t stand in the way of the work God wants to do in me and through me. In fact, embracing my inadequacies can actually help me.
My great fears can force me to look to God in faith. My awareness of my limits can become opportunities to call on God’s limitless power. And my complete confusion and lack of clarity can force me to spend time in God’s word and on my knees in prayer seeking God for the answers.
Isn’t that what God is after? He doesn’t need me to be adequate; He just wants me humble and dependent, fully acknowledging my great need for Him.
This is deeply liberating for me. It allows me to pursue tough things, even when they totally overwhelm me. And when something actually succeeds: when I preach a sermon and lives are changed, when I write and people are inspired, when I complete the task I thought was impossible, my inadequacies reminds me who should really get the credit. I didn’t do this, God did. It’s not for me, it’s for His glory. If He could use me, He can use anyone.
That’s why I believe my feelings of inadequacy will never go away. God uses my weakness to remind me how strong He is. He uses my unfaithfulness to remind me how faithful He is. He uses my inadequacies to show me how able He is.
What about you? What is it that deep down inside you know God is calling you to do, but you are avoiding it because you feel inadequate?
What is it that deep down inside you know God is calling you to do, but you are avoiding it because you feel inadequate?
It terrifies you.
You question if you could ever do it.
You think your past sin disqualifies you.
You don’t think you are “that kind of person.”
When you find yourself battling with those voices of inadequacy, embrace the truth that you are inadequate apart from God, but don’t let that stop you from boldly moving forward in obedience and faith. Don’t wait until you feel ready (you will never feel ready to do what God is calling you to do). Don’t ask God to use someone else (He’s calling you for a reason). Instead, remember this simple truth:
You are not adequate and God is more than able.
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Image Credit: Merce, Creative Commons