What makes me feel competent or incompetent in my life or my work?
One dictionary describes competence as “adequacy; possession of required skill, knowledge, qualification, or capacity; sufficiency; a sufficient quantity.”
Competence is an enough word. It means having what I need to do the work I have been given.
There was a time when I felt excessively competent in the work of ministry. Wasn’t God lucky! I had an easy confidence in what my administrative skills, my communication abilities, and my musical talents made possible as a local church college/young adult pastor.
There have also been times when that youthful audacity met with, I hope, a more mature assessment. I began to feel less competent (or even worthy) to preach, speak, counsel or minister. I became more aware of my faults, weaknesses and shortcomings. My leaning went from self-confident to self-conscious.
My early confidence was mostly based on what I felt was a model moral performance, many natural talents, and an attractive personality. This didn’t prove, in the long run, to be a very fruitful confidence.
The road forward for me has not been to regain that old confidence, but find a new confidence in Christ Himself. I think this is what Paul is talking about when he says:
“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NRSV)
The confidence Paul describes doesn’t come from his social privilege, his top-notch education or his unmatched zeal. I am not competent of myself to claim anything as coming from me. The only things coming exclusively from me apart from Christ can be put in the box labeled Nothing (or worse than nothing). In John 15 language, if I am a branch detached from the vine, I am not bearing any fruit.
- Think about your own sense of competence or incompetence these days as it relates to life, work or ministry.
- How might your confidence be rooted in talent, intelligence or personality?
- How are you able to see these as gifts given by God and to be exercised in interactive relationship with God?
- In what ways has any lack of confidence been a misdirected focus on what you can’t seem to do instead of focusing on what God can easily do in and through you?
Take a moment to interact with God a bit about this. He wants you to be confident in Him. Confidence is good. God-attentiveness is what makes it good.