“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the conference agenda. The meeting planners had scheduled me to be the last speaker! Isn’t it traditional to save the best for last? My heart started to race.

Speaker A was a highly regarded, internationally known powerhouse with a fiery delivery and an engaging, heart-rending personal story of abandonment and drug addiction. Speaker B was also well-known and had an awe-inspiring rags-to-riches testimony. As Speaker C, I felt I had nothing to say that would really wow the audience. After all, my parents had never abandoned me, I never tried drugs, I was raised in church, finished college, married a wonderful man, and pursued a great career in corporate America. Of course, I’d had some physical and emotional pain along the way, but nothing paralleling the stories of the other speakers. I could just imagine one giant audience yawn if I were to give that testimony.

The sight of thousands of expectant faces waiting for me to say something profound made my heart race even more. I felt an overwhelming sense of inadequacy—until I remembered to practice what I preach. My own words echoed in my mind, I am indeed inadequate. We are all inadequate in our own strength! Jesus said so. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). When I locked my thoughts on this truth, I felt supreme confidence begin to infuse my heart. I delivered a life-changing message that day—according to subsequent emails from many attendees.

Fear Analysis

Fear of inadequacy is one of the five core fears (discussed in the Prologue) that dictate the quality of our lives. As a core fear, it is also the bedrock of a number of other fears discussed in this book. This debilitating state of mind in which we think we are not good enough usually originates in childhood as our parents, teachers, others we deem important, and even ourselves unwisely compare our performance or appearance to that of others. Inadequacy is triggered in us as adults by the same tendency to compare or to fail to meet certain expectations (even unrealistic ones promoted by the media).

From Moses, who felt inadequate to be the spokesperson and deliverer for the Israelites, to the late pop star Michael Jackson, who pursued physical and professional perfection, fear of inadequacy has been the scourge of mankind. No statistics can measure the number of abandoned dreams due to this paralyzing emotion. To rid ourselves of it, we must learn how to embrace two overriding truths: (1) we are inadequate apart from God, and (2) we are more than conquerors with Him.

Action Plan

Try these strategies to move from fear of inadequacy to assurance of sufficiency:

Understand that making us feel inadequate is big business. Be on guard for the “you or your current possession is inadequate” message in commercials or advertisements. Know when you are being set up to “buy adequacy.”

Stop the self-rejection. You are not too old, too young, too ugly, too pretty, too dark, too fair, too dumb, too educated—too anything. You are custom designed for a unique destiny. Begin to declare, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

View the excellence or superior performance of another as a source of motivation rather than intimidation. Meanwhile, don’t lose sight of your unique giftedness (yes, you are gifted in some area).

Readily confess your inadequacy to God. Joni Eareckson Tada says, “Deny your weakness, and you will never realize God’s strength in you.”

Show up for the task. God is always on the lookout for a vessel through whom He can show His strength. “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Anticipate the spiritual intimacy that results from depending on Him. One of my most significant periods of spiritual growth came when I accepted a job that was way over my head. Experiencing God’s revelation and guidance during that period resulted in a great shift in my thinking. I realized I could never acquire all the knowledge I’ll need to succeed. Therefore, I must maintain an intimate connection with my all-knowing Father. Imagine being connected to an omniscient being who loves you and wants the best for you.

Memorize and meditate often on 2 Corinthians 3:5: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” This passage confirms that adequacy does not emanate from you but rather flows through you.

Deborah Smith Pegues, 30 Days to Taming Your Fears: Practical Help for a More Peaceful and Productive Life (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2011).

We have just released a new Bible Study on the topic Faith and Hope Defeat Worry and Fear.

These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.

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Ultimately, the goal is to create conversations that change lives.