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Do you ever feel like you don’t measure up? Not sure you have what it takes? Feel like you are in over your head? Whether you are a parent, spouse, student, or member of the workforce, sometimes it is easy to give in to the fear that we are not adequately equipped for the work God has for us. This fear comes out in phrases like “I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. I’m not sure what a Christian parent looks like.” “I don’t have the right personality for this position.” “I’m afraid my peers will abandon me if I share my faith.”
The fact is, if God calls you to do something he wants YOU to do it.
Although it is true that we as mere humans are inadequate when we are alone, the fact is we are not alone. God is always with us, and he is never inadequate. And so, the only things that remain hopelessly inadequate are our excuses.
Here are five symptoms of the fear of inadequacy and how to remedy them.
- The fear of inadequacy causes us to question our value.
When God called Moses to a monumental task, the great leader said, “No thanks! I’m not up for the assignment.” Moses said, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Moses was convinced he didn’t have what it took, and he was right. Despite this, God told the fearful Moses, “I will be with you.”
The fear of inadequacy will remain embedded in our hearts as long as we are asking the question “Who am I?” The question we have to ask is, “Who is my God?” God gives me what I need for every assignment.
- The fear of inadequacy is fueled by a belief in an inadequate God.
It’s one thing to feel inadequate. It’s another to feel that God is inadequate. Yet, that’s where we struggle. Can I trust God? Moses was concerned that when he went to the Israelites they would ask, “Who sent you? What is his name?” God told Moses to say that “I AM has sent me to you.”
I AM is the first person singular of the Hebrew verb that means “to be.” The third person singular, “He is” is the name Yahweh. It shows up in our Bibles as LORD - with all caps. “I AM” describes the self-existent, all-powerful God.
The fear of inadequacy is squelched by the admission of my personal inadequacy and the confidence that the God I serve is more than adequate. He is the holy, incomprehensible, eternal, independent, all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful God who loves me with an unconditional love. He has adopted me as his child and tells me to call him “Abba, Father.” With his power and his presence, I am never inadequate.
- The fear of inadequacy continually asks the question, “What will others think?”
Moses was concerned that the Israelites would not believe him. “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” Our concern about what others think often drives the fear of inadequacy. How many people have missed what God wanted them to do because they were afraid of what others might say, think, or feel?
The fear of what others think will “prove to be a snare” (Proverbs 29:25). Paul said, “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10b).
- The fear of inadequacy produces a feeling of incompetence.
Still searching for excuses, Moses explained to God that he was “slow of speech and tongue.” He was convinced that when standing before Pharaoh, the right words would not come quickly and clearly. In essence, Moses said, “Look, God, I don’t have what it takes. I hate to be so bold, but you are asking me to do something that you’ve not given me the skills to do. You know my background. The psychological damage I have from my mom putting me in the river. Raised by a stepmom. Sheltered and spoiled in the palace. You just haven’t given me the gifts I need to do what you’re calling me to do. God, I hate to say this but you’re all-knowing, and you should know better.”
Do you ever feel incompetent for the task? Do you ever feel inadequate for your heavy assignment? Listen to God’s answer to Moses.
The LORD said to him, "Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
God will give you whatever you need to do what he has called you to do. With him at our side, we are always adequate.
- The fear of inadequacy will lead us to unhealthy places.
The fear of inadequacy leads us to an honest confession: “God, no thanks, I don’t want to.” That’s what Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else.”
The fear of inadequacy causes us to say to God, “I don’t want to do the hard things I need to do to raise my kids or do my job or be committed to my marriage.” However, God is not happy with disobedience whether you are man or woman, husband or wife, mom or dad, student or employee. God is never gladdened by disobedience. God’s “anger burned against Moses.” He felt God’s displeasure, and we will too when we disobey. The fear of inadequacy will lead us to unhealthy places. God was not pleased with Moses’ response, but he graciously gave him a partner, Aaron, to help him along the way.
The fear of inadequacy is addressed when we admit our inadequacy, quit pretending to be super-human, stop believing the cultural lies of false contentment, get our eyes focused on God and accept the truth of Scripture. He is with us always. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will give us all we need to do what he has called us to do.