I have a confession: I crave competence and self-sufficiency. Whatever I am doing – preaching a sermon, offering counsel to others, or dealing with my own struggles in life – I desperately want to do things well, and without the help of others.
Sometimes I hate being incompetent and/or dependent. I get angry at myself when sermon preparation is harder than I think it should be. After all, I’ve been preparing sermons for over thirty years!
I especially hate it when some slip of the tongue, ungodly thought, or selfish reaction lays waste my carefully cultivated sense of spiritual competence. How many years have I known the Lord?
What about you? Where does your craving for competence and self-sufficiency show up: your job, your parenting, your relationships, or perhaps your hobby?
After all, who doesn’t want to be competent? Yet, this craving and the discouragement it brings shows us something important about ourselves.
Our craving for competence and independence belies our true identity and cuts us off from the help we desperately need.
We come to faith in Messiah only when God enables us to see and embrace our incompetence (our sinful nature), and our dependence (our absolute need for God to provide everything for salvation).
Yet, no sooner do we come to faith in Messiah than we disdain our incompetent and dependent identity and seek to prove ourselves otherwise. Our craving for our own competence and independence becomes an ungodly substitute for the competence and sufficiency of Messiah in us.
Perhaps the universality of the competence craving led Paul to write, “Therefore as you have received Messiah Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him…” As we received Messiah by faith, so too by faith we walk with Him daily. We cannot strive for our own competence and be resting in Messiah’s competence at the same time. We cannot serve two masters.
Our craving for competence contradicts who we really are – a community of people totally dependent on Messiah – and cuts us off from the help we desperately need.
Embracing our identity frees us to experience Messiah in us, the hope of glory.
May God grant us grace to embrace and rejoice in our identity as a community of incompetent, dependent people whose help is in the name of Yeshua.