Last night, I spoke to the men and women who attend First Central Baptist Church’s Celebrate Recovery program. I shared how God used 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 to teach me I no longer needed to wrestle with feelings of inadequacy.
For much of my life, I wanted to be someone else. Growing up, I always wanted to be my brother, Paul. He was 14 months older and six inches taller than me. He was musical, athletic, and outgoing. In college, I wanted to be like my friend, Mike. He was popular, friendly, and drove a cool sports car. In grad school, I wanted to be like one of my mentors, John. He was a gifted writer, popular speaker, and very creative. Then I wanted to be like Phil, a gifted teacher. I spent 14 years working with a gifted administrator and leader, Tim, and wanted to be like him as well. I wanted to be like these men because I didn’t think I was good enough.
Adding to my struggles were the people who told me I wasn’t good enough. Tony said I would never make it in ministry because I didn’t have a pastor’s heart. The church I grew up in did not want to ordain me because they didn’t consider Christian Education to be real ministry. When I was working on my doctorate, the dean of the seminary said I would never complete the program because I didn’t have what it took to do doctoral work. (Tony and the Dean later apologized and admitted they were wrong and misjudged me.)
As I have cataloged on previous occasions, I was fired from my first ministry. While I had not done anything wrong, neither had I done enough right and the church wanted to make a change. They told me I wasn’t a leader, but left me to figure out what that meant and how to correct the flaw.
Two years ago, I lost all my hair due to illness and stress. Today, I don’t recognize myself when I look in the mirror.
For much of my life, I wanted to be someone else. I wanted my brother’s height and musical ability; Mike’s popularity and sports car; John’s ability to write; Kent’s ability to preach; Phil’s ability to connect with an audience; Tim’s ability to plan; and my own hair.
I never felt I was good enough. I was told I wasn’t good enough. I was fired because I wasn’t good enough. I felt like God made a mistake in how he wired me.
In 2001, I was introduced to 2 Corinthians 3:5-6.
Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The NASB uses the word, “adequate”; the NIV uses “competent”; and the ESV uses “sufficient.”
There are three key phrases in these verses that helped change my perspective about myself. The first one is, “Not that we are adequate.” People were correct. I don’t have the natural ability to accomplish anything. I’m not enough.
The second phrase that helped me is, “our adequacy is from God.” God has given me exactly what I need to be successful in life and ministry.
The third phrase that changed my perspective is, “who also made us adequate.” In addition to giving me what I need, God has made me adequate. God said, “You are enough. You are sufficient. You are competent. You are adequate. I didn’t make a mistake.”
For the first time, I realized it was ok to be me. I didn’t have to be someone else.
I still struggle with insecurity at times. But I know those are the lies of the enemy. And I have to remind myself what God said about me. He made me adequate and has given me what I need to be successful in life and ministry.
Whatever challenge you are facing tonight, (1) Admit that you are not adequate. You don’t have the skills, resources, ability to change your situation. (2) Trust God to give you the resources you need. He can give you enough grace and strength to succeed. (3) Trust God to make you adequate.