Giving up competency

Image source: see notes
Image source: see notes

I’ve been wondering if I’m obsessed with being competent.

Seems strange to obsess about competency, doesn’t it?  Isn’t competency merely basic – just sufficient?

Perhaps I suffer from a low self-image.  I excel at little.  Rather, I focus on attaining competency and then “advance” to being reliable, dependable, consistent.  Not the “sharpest tool” or the “brightest bulb” but I finish what I start. I hold up my end.  You can count on me.

Mere competency sounds simple enough except I sometimes avoid doing what I doubt I will be competent in – even innocent little games.

I’m reluctant to classify my competency obsession as prideful. How harmful can competency be?

Then I read this by Osward Chamber, “Anyone will give up wrong things if she or he knows how to, but will I give up the best I have for Jesus Christ?  If I am only willing to give up wrong things, never let me talk about being in love with Him!”  (from “Biblical Ethics”)

What dawned on me was that I don’t bring anything useable to Christ that he truly needs, even my competence. What he wants is me, fully committed to obediently do his will whether or not I feel I can be sufficient at it.

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,” (2 Corinthians 3: 4-5, NIV)

I am eight weeks into another new job, my thirteenth in less than seven years. Each new position presented a unique learning curve.  In very few did I ever attain true competency before I was gone for one reason or another, off to some other new thing.

For a guy who prides himself at reliable competency, finding myself in a semi-constant state of “less-than competency” is intolerable. Now here is the Lord (through Chambers) suggesting I give up to him what I am best at.  Really Lord?.

As I thought about this, a surprising sense of peacefulness came over me.

What if God did not bring me to this (or any) new position because of what I bring or can do here?  What if God’s reasons had only to do with me just being in this workplace and present with the people here just as I am, a new creation in Christ?

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

Think about. To live as, and to be, the new man Christ is making me into sort of puts continued obsession over competency in its proper place, right?

What would that best be for you that God wants you to give up in order to be fully available to him?  Thoughts?



Image source:

Letting You In On a Secret

I recently ran across the story of a man who died holding a secret he never wanted to keep. After his death, his son discovered his father’s secret and his reluctance about it. Months later, his son offered himself to a cause already underway to make the secret known.  Even so, many years passed until…Continue Reading

Spring and Dawn, Contrasts

Spring as a season offers hope in contrast to winter from which it emerges. Dawn too. Sun’s warm, rainbow fingers reach across the inky night, chasing the darkness away.  Still, would Spring be so hopeful or dawn so promising if not for the contrasts from which they emerge – Winter and night, respectively? Likewise is…Continue Reading

Open (Trap) Doors

Looks like I’ve “wandered” into another one.  After a cursory self-examination, I conclude that nothing seems to be broken. “I’m O.K.” I shout back up to no one in particular.  “I must be getting better at these crash landings,” I mutter to myself. If I had a dollar for every time someone said that to…Continue Reading

Teachable Moments

Teachable moment – “a task which is learned at a specific point and which makes achievement of succeeding tasks possible. When the timing is right, the ability to learn a particular task will be possible. Unless the time is right, learning will not occur.” [Wikipedia]. A friend who called to congratulate me about my new…Continue Reading

Broken Together

i’m seeing eyes fixed large and bright upon me hear a shallow rapids course steady beyond an arena of touching and learning feel a cool bank beneath peerless skies on a lazy saturday a gentle lady whose arms are like a shelter The scene was a beautiful late fall day in October, 1977 at Deerfield…Continue Reading

Messy Transformed

My wife and I just watched the movie “Ragamuffin” based on the life of Christian singer/songwriter Rich Mullins who died in a car crash in 1997.  While the movie depicts the messiness of Mullins’ life, his songs, music and commentary that he offered during live performances compellingly touched his fans, friends and family. Mullins grew…Continue Reading

Pocket Protectors

Pocket protector:  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, (Colossians 3:23, NIV) Yup, I use pocket protectors at work.  While the one I pictured is what generally comes to mind, mine is different. My pocket protector is a 3 by 5 index card…Continue Reading

Well-worn paths

I have a fondness for certain kinds of roads – windy, hilly, black-topped ones that thread through countrysides.  Roads like these exude the character of the places they traverse.  Still, roads are not paths. Paths are different. Agrarian author Wendell Berry offers a lush perspective about paths vs. roads that remains stuck in my mind…Continue Reading