Can you fill in the blank? “I’m not ____________ enough.”
This isn’t a time-consuming or difficult question for many Christian leaders. The answers seem to flow with surprising speed and ease. There also seem to be multiple possibilities. Here are just a few examples:
I’m not old/young enough.
I’m not wise/educated enough.
I’m not experienced/skilled enough.
I’m not extroverted enough.
I’m not good/pure enough.
I’m not strong/courageous enough.
Unfortunately, this list could go on and on. The fill-in-the-blank words may be different from leader to leader, but the impact is the same. These words can easily become self-talk in our minds. With enough of this kind of self-talk, even though we can hear God’s call or see an opportunity, we feel inadequate or even disqualified. Then there can be a very real temptation to self-select out or just stay safe on the sidelines.
This was Moses’ reality. In Exodus 3 Moses has an encounter with a burning bush. Through this bush that doesn’t burn but does talk, God gets Moses’ captive attention. Through the bush, God shares that he’s heard and seen the misery of his people under the oppression of the Egyptians. He also shares that he has a plan to bring freedom and blessing to his people. At this point, everything likely sounds pretty good to Moses. Then God’s plan gets personal.
In Exodus 3:19 God says, “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” When Moses hears that God wants him to lead the exodus, he doesn’t think he should or that he even could do it. He responds, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
Behind Moses’ question, you can sense him filling in the “I’m not ________ enough” blank. After all, it could be easily argued that he isn’t qualified for this important and dangerous job. Born an Israelite but raised an Egyptian, Moses doesn’t fully belong to either group. Then there’s the fact that he is a murderer being hunted by Pharaoh. Moses is actually in his own exile taking care of sheep in the middle of nowhere. With this less than stellar resume and all the negative self-talk that went with it, Moses wants to self-select out and stay safe on the sidelines.
God responds in Exodus 3:12, “I will be with you.” In other words, God is saying, “Me being with you is better than anything on your resume. In fact, me being with you is enough. I am – my character and my presence – your qualification.”
Moses isn’t buying it. He’s still desperate to find a way out. He says to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” In other words, “What’s my qualification?”
At this point, God again makes Moses’ qualifications very clear. He says to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelite’s, “I AM has sent me to you.” God wants Moses to get his eyes off of himself and his own shortcomings (real and perceived) and get his eyes onto the Caller. To do what God is asking him to do, Moses must get his eyes off himself and place his confidence in God.
So let’s go back to your fill-in-the-blank. Has God called you? If so, where are your eyes looking? If your confidence comes from looking at yourself, you are in trouble. If your lack of confidence comes from looking at yourself, you are in trouble of a different kind. Instead, there’s someone else, someone much better to look at. How might your outlook and confidence change if you look to God—his call, his character and his presence with you?
“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competency comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant…”
2 Corinthians 3:5-6
May this prayer help focus your eyes today:
Lord, forgive me for putting my eyes squarely on myself.
I cannot qualify myself before you in anything for anything.
My competency comes from you—your character, Christ’s work on the cross, the Holy Spirit’s work and gifting in me and your presence with me.
Through faith in you and by your grace, I obediently choose to look to you and to follow you.
Cheering you on!
President, Arrow Leadership