Sometimes I Feel Completely Inadequate

Have you ever felt somewhat or totally inadequate for a task or a role that you are about to engage in?

In my life there have been numerous times when I have felt inadequate:

      • As a teenager I felt totally inadequate in gym class and track and field days – unable to do what was expected because of walking issues
      • When I went to seminary I felt totally inadequate as I knew little to almost nothing about God or the Bible
      • When I became a priest I felt totally inadequate personally and even more so professionally – there was no spiritual
      • First funeral in small town south of Regina
      • Becoming a husband
      • Becoming a father
      • Becoming a born again believer
      • First time prophesying
      • Planting a new church
      • Witnessing on the streets
      • First trip overseas to Ukraine
      • Working through a translator
      • Even today … some of the things I am called upon to do I feel totally inadequate to accomplish
              • Writing a series of books comes to mind
              • Teaching and leading through Zoom

Feelings of inadequacy lead to… insecurity lead to… uncertainty

From the outside, it may look like I have it all together

I have accomplished a fair amount in my short lifetime

I am told I appear confident and sure of what I am doing when upfront in a church

People have assumed I must be full of talent, wisdom, creativity, and spiritual energy

I have had people compliment my leadership, my teaching ability, my wisdom and my preaching

But, I still feel somewhat inadequate hoping to make it through the next challenge and the next demand upon my life

I did well in school, but only by working my buns off

An intellectual giant I am not

I am also an introvert and naturally a little shy

Being with a lot of people makes me uncomfortable and I have to work at connecting

I read my Bible, study God’s Word, and read a lot of books on the faith

Yet, most times I don’t feel very spiritual

We can appear to be something we are not … confident and secure in ourselves

Yet we have that feeling of:

      • Not knowing enough
      • Not being good enough
      • Not doing enough
      • Not contributing enough
      • Not meeting some unexpressed standard

And so, at one time or another, everyone can feel inadequate

Feelings of inadequacy lead to… insecurity lead to… uncertainty

True story of a pastor whom I know… He writes…

I have been haunted with insecurities for as long as I can remember

And it is not all in my head

I have concrete evidence proving my feelings of inadequacy

For example, the first funeral I officiated was a disaster

The deceased was a strong believer in her early nineties

Her death was a blessing: no more pain or suffering

She was gone to a much better place

It was a graveside ceremony, attended by a couple dozen people

All I had to do was show us, read some verses, say some nice words, and add a prayer — the epitome of a pastor’s “easy” funeral

And I managed to mess it up

The granddaughter of the deceased wanted to sing “Amazing Grace” 

Nice idea. Wrong pastor

The problem? I can’t carry a tune

But in front of the grieving family and friends, I attempted to lead the grand old hymn

Unfortunately (for me and everyone there), the small congregation thought the song was a solo

Event the granddaughter left me hanging

No one joined in

While I tortured a classic, I saw people looking at each other as if to say, Why would a guy who sings so badly perform a solo?

Several lines into the song, a fly came buzzing around my face.

I was focusing all my attention on my first-ever —- and last-ever — solo, when the fly zoomed straight into my mouth.

Time froze, and I contemplated my options: Should I cough and spit out the fly as discretely as possible in from of a grieving family? Or do I swallow a fly in the middle of “Amazing Grace?”

If anything in my life would ever qualify as a no-win situation, this was it.

Time unfroze. I decided to suffer for Jesus. I swallowed.

I couldn’t imagine things getting any worse. Having just ingested a live winged insect, I ended the song early

I wanted to crawl into a hole and die

Then things got worse

After a short prayer, I was headed down the home stretch — ready to end the funeral with the “ashes to ashes” thing

 

Mustering my most authoritative pastor’s voice, I started, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust …” I hesitated. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust … What comes next? I couldn’t remember

That’s when my train of thought derailed and wrecked — big time

These people are sad, I reasoned. A little humour will do them good.

The traditional funeral-finishing words that I had just spoken still echoed off the surrounding tombstones

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. 

To them, I added the New Revised inadequate ending: “I hope this coffin doesn’t rust.”

Rare is the person who appreciates my sense of humour

And he wasn’t at that funeral

I felt completely inadequate

A funny story, yes  … but I have been there, done that

Even forgotten the words to the Lord’s Prayer in the middle of a funeral as I was standing in front of the mike leading the people in the Lord’s Prayer

A General Observation: 

Some people come off as prideful — whether spiritually or in any other area of life

A know-it-all / An answer for everything / Always needing to add their two cents

They live uprightly, and it seems everyone else is wrong or morally inferior, never measuring up

Never smart enough, fast enough, vocal enough 

These self-righteous, over-confident, know-it-alls can be a real pain in the butt

However, more often than prideful people — who are generally just insecure people wearing a mask of pride — I see people fighting the same battle I fight

Weighed down by deep feelings of inadequacy

While some may offer a resume filled with victories in their faith, their family, their career…

Mine seems to be overflowing with defeats, failures, self-doubts, fears, blunders, and insecurities

At weak moments in my life – I personally feel like:

            • I don’t know enough 
            • I don’t feel that I’m good enough
            • I’ve made so many mistakes

Most Christians feel like they don’t measure up — that they are inadequate — because they look inside and see:

      • Jealousy
      • Envy
      • Pride
      • Doubt
      • Hatred
      • Unforgiveness
      • A critical heart
      • A gossiping spirit (lifestyle)
      • Ungodly competitiveness 
      • A judgmental spirit
      • Impatience
      • Arrogance
      • Ungodly desires

Maybe you feel the same way as many people I talk to feel:

Too many doubts and not enough knowledge

Too many sins and not enough forgiveness to get past them

Too many bad decisions piled up creating a wall between you and God

But what we tend to forget when we have times of feeling inadequate is that God has enough grace and power to forgive every mistake and correct every flaw

So for those of us who, at times, feel trapped by our inadequacies … 

A look at some insecure, blundering, sinful Bible characters 

Notice first whom Jesus did not pick

Of those chosen to carry the gospel to the world, Jesus did not pick a single Pharisee, Sadducee, or Scribe — the spiritual elite. Not one!

Let that sink in for a moment

Jesus also did not choose the best looking, the most talented, the best educated, or the most likely to succeed

Jesus chose twelve ordinary, sinful, insecure people — Just like you. Just like me.

He chose a few fishermen, a tax collector, an accountant, and a political activist

Jesus named two of the guys “Sons of Thunder”

This was not because they were born during a storm

Their reputations for wild living preceded them

Jesus’ friends were the least unlikely people to become disciples

They were the partiers of their day

The cheaters

The lies

The traitors

The radical militants 

The ones who the religious crowd despised

Jesus even hung around prostitutes

He surrounded Himself with the lowest, the poorest, the outcasts

And, that encourages me

God prefers to use those who are ordinary

If you feel like me and a few others who feel inadequate

      • Too stupid
      • Too sinful
      • Too mistake-prone
      • You feel like you’ll never measure up
      • You don’t have what it takes
      • If you feel like your best isn’t good enough

Embrace this: God has prepared you to make a difference in this world

Let’s look at three more lives — fellow spiritual strugglers, deeply insecure and inadequate

Allow their examples to encourage you towards Kingdom greatness 

First, there is the prophet Isaiah:

His life teaches us that even if you’ve messed up big, God can and will still use you

After King Uzziah died, the whole nation of Israel panicked

While seeking God, Isaiah had a very unusual, life-changing vision

He saw the Lord, high, and lifted up …

Isaiah 6:1-7 “In the year that King Uzziah died, I clearly saw the Lord. He was seated on his exalted throne, towering high above me. His long, flowing robe of splendour spread throughout the templet. Standing above him were the angels of flaming fire, each with six wings: with two wings they covered their faces in reverence, with two wings they covered their feet, and with two wings they flew. And one called out to another, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God,

Commander of Angel Armies!

The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

The thunderous voice of the fiery angels caused the foundations of the thresholds to tremble as the cloud of glory filled the temple!

Then I stammered and said, “Woe is me! I’m destroyed—doomed as a sinful man! For my words are tainted and I live among people who talk the same way. King Yahweh, Commander of Angel Armies! My eyes have gazed upon him!”

Then out of the smoke, one of the angels of fire flew to me. He had in his hands a burning coal he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See? The burning coal from the altar has touched your lips. Your guilt is taken away; your sin is blotted out.” (TPT)

After only a small glimpse of the holiness of God, Isaiah lamented, “Woe to me! … I am ruined,! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5)

I noted first that Isaiah was aware of his own sin

With this brief brush with our holy God, Isaiah became acutely aware of his sin (impurity)

He had messed up big time

His unrighteousness stared him square in the face

If you feel inadequate because of your sin — think of all the other substandard people God used

Sometimes the greatest were the ones who messed up the biggest

          • Moses murdered a man
          • Abraham was a liar
          • Jacob was a cheater
          • Rahab was a prostitute
          • David committed adultery
          • Gideon was a coward
          • Paul, the apostle, murdered a large number of believers
          • Peter was proud and arrogant
          • Thomas was riddled with doubts
          • Matthew was a traitor to his people 

And God used all these mess-ups to do awesome things

If you have messed up big, you’re a leading candidate for God to use

So, what should you do now? — Exactly what Isaiah did

Confess your sin and short-comings

Let God cleanse and forgive you

As soon as that happened to Isaiah — the moment after Isaiah experienced God’s grace, the Lord asked the forgiven man,

Isaiah 6:8 “Then I heard the Lord saying, “Whom should I send to my people? Who will go to represent us?” I spoke up and said, “I will be the one. Send me.” (TPT)

And God did

Jesus:

God prefers to use those who are ordinary

God has prepared you to make a difference in the world

Isaiah teaches us: 

God takes you as your are, forgives you, calls and sends you

Let’s take a look at Moses

He is another struggling Bible character — Totally inadequate

When I think of Moses, I picture an amazingly courageous leader full of determination to do God’s will

But if you peel away his accomplishments and look at the real man — He does not look much different than us

Moses’ life teaches us that God loves to use those who are unsure of themselves

God called Moses to lead His people out of bondage in Egypt

Then to increase Moses’ confidence in God’s ability, God performed some really cool miracles

But instead of thinking about God’s power, Moses was zeroed in on his own powerlessness

In response to God’s call, the not-yet leader complained, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past not since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10)

In other words:

I hate public speaking. I stutter. Get a good speaker. Someone who loves to stand in front of large crowds. Count me out. I don’t have what it takes. 

We need to remember: “God doesn’t choose the prepared. He prepares the chosen”

You don’t have to be ready for God to use you

In fact, you might never feel ready

When God calls you, he’ll prepare you with on-the-job training

With each step, He’ll lead you

 

If you are unsure of yourself, you’re in great company, and you’re at the top of “God’s Potential Disciples” list

God spoke directly to Moses’ greatest insecurity (inadequacy) — fear of public speaking — by asking a series of probing questions:

Exodus 4: 11-12 ESV “Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

In other words, God will use you in spite of your inadequacies and insecurity

And He’ll often use you when you’re most insecure

In what life skill do you feel weakest?

      • Public speaking
      • Leading
      • Praying
      • Witnessing
      • Teaching
      • Discipling
      • All of the above…

God’s grace is all you need

His power is made perfect in your weakness

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (ESV)

So, when you feel insecure or inadequate – remember that God can work more easily with insecurities than with pride

God is really to use you

And, believe it or not, You’re ready for His use

Jesus:

God prefers to use those who are ordinary

God has prepared you to make a difference in this world

Isaiah: 

God takes you as your are, forgives you, calls and sends you

Moses:

God loves to use those who are unsure of themselves

A third biblical character who inspires me is David

His life teaches that you are a candidate for God to use when others think you’re not

God loves to use the unlikely 

When David was just a boy, God saw something in him that no one else saw

God called the prophet Samuel to anoint the next kind of Israel

So Samuel visited the Jesse household — a home with several likely candidates for king

The first was Eliab, the oldest

This guy had everything you’d expect a king to have:

 

          • The looks
          • The physique
          • The brains
          • The experience

But God said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him (1 Samuel 16:7)

The proud, hopeful father, Jesse, paraded seven of his sons in front of the prophet Samuel

Each time God said no

Only one son remained — the runt. The baby. 

Jesse thought, “Him? The king? Ha! He won’t qualify. God has already passed over all the mature, intelligent, and talented ones in the family”

When Samuel asked if there were other sons, Jesse’s reply was drenched in doubt:

“There is still the youngest … but he is tending the sheep” (1 Samuel 16:11)

The Jesse family was about to learn that God loves to use people whom others believe are unqualified

As God told Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7)

It is noted in several places ion the Bible that David was “a man after God’s own heart”

Then God chose the most unlikely — the youngest, the shepherd boy, David

Why?

Because God specializes in accomplishing His plans through unlikely people

Because God looks at the heart and not at the inadequacies we see and feel

So what have others told you that you can’t do?

What have you told yourself that you are inadequate to do?

      • Be an anointed and effective Bible teacher?
      • Start a successful business?
      • Lead an organization?
      • Get a doctorate degree and impact the world?
      • Get out of debt?
      • Lead multitudes to the Lord?
      • Write a book?

God uses the unlikely

He may do through you what others say can’t be done

He loves to use people who others don’t believe are ready

God has put more in you than those around you can see

He looks past what the world looks for

God isn’t searching for great looks, a full head of hair, the perfect figure, or the smartest or funniest person

God is looking at what He put in you:

      • Quiet faith
      • Untapped courage
      • Dormant gifts
      • A deep sensitivity to others
      • Compassion
      • Leadership
      • Intelligence
      • Determination
      • Common sense

Others look at the outside — God sees His perfect work on the inside

Jesus:

God prefers to use those who are ordinary

God has prepared you to make a difference in this world

Isaiah: 

God takes you as your are, forgives you, calls and sends you

Moses:

God loves to use those who are unsure of themselves

David:

You are a candidate for God to use when others think you’re not

APPLICATION:

So what do you do when you battle with feelings of deep insecurity?

Three things…

1> Don’t believe everything people say about you – even those close to you

Some believe that you can do no wrong

Even though they love you, they’ll never help you improve and will often keep you from moving forward in the will of God

Your friends may say that you write better stories than John Grisham

Your boss may say you are so important and the company can’t do without you

Your loved ones may tell you how wonderful you are but really they want and need your presence and your attention so “butter you up”

1> Don’t believe everything people say about you – even those close to you

2> Don’t believe everything your critics say about you

One of my mentors told me: “The more you accomplish, the more you’ll attract harsh criticism”

Listening to constructive criticism is wise

Listening to and focusing on negative criticism – you will eventually become defensive

And God’s people must always be on the offensive

Always be ready — the critics are coming

They won’t like the way you parent

They will criticize the way you drive

They will be critical of the way you speak – words you use

They will be vocal about what you are wearing

1> Don’t believe everything people say about you – even those close to you

2> Don’t believe everything your critics say about you

3> The only opinion that really matters is God’s

Listen to what God says about you — He believes in you

CONCLUSION:

Wrapping up — one of my favourite verses in the Bible is Acts 4:13

Peter and John had been boldly sharing about Christ

Some of the legalistic, overly religious leaders had them arrested and questioned

Luke recorded their story

Acts 4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

TPT “The council members were astonished as they witnessed the bold courage of Peter and John, especially when they discovered that they were just ordinary men who had never had religious training. Then they began to understand the effect Jesus had on them simply by spending time with him.”

These were normal guys — just like you, just like me

In fact, the Greek word for “ordinary” or “common” is the word idiotes   

 

idiotes — pronounced id-ee-AH-tace

It means “unskilled,” and from it we get our word ‘idiot’

These guys are like me — idiots!

Not only were they idiotes but they were also unschooled

I imagine they battled fears of not knowing enough – feeling inadequate

They probably felt intimidated in front of crowds – feeling inadequate

They had been commanded to make disciples around the world – inadequate

They lived in a powerful empire that hated them – feeling totally inadequate

But … These men had been with Jesus … and that made them extraordinary

Don’t listen to what anyone else says about you

Don’t listen to the recorded tapes of negative words in your mind so easily accessed

Don’t listen exclusively to either your fans or your critics

Instead, think about your whole life:

 

      • Your relationships
      • Your finances
      • Your ministry
      • Your work
      • Your witness
      • Your influence
      • Your family

  …. in light of what God says about you!

Spend quality time with Jesus — and let Him turn you (your whole life) from an ordinary person into an extraordinary disciple!