Do you have feelings of inadequacy? The fear of inadequacy is something we all struggle with at some time in our lives. Are we truly enough? Do we have everything we need to be successful in the different roles roles play in our lives? Is what we have adequate to the need of the task?
The questions can cripple us if we don’t handle them carefully so let’s figure out how to deal with our fear of inadequacy.
What does it mean to feel inadequate?
The Oxford Dictionary defines inadequate as:
- lacking the quality or quantity required; insufficient for a purpose.
- (of a person) unable to deal with a situation or with life.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines inadequacy as:
- the fact that something is not good enough or is too small in amount
- a lack of confidence that makes you feel unable to deal with a situation
In other words, a person who feels inadequate doesn’t feel as if they have what it takes to accomplish whatever it is that they’re trying to accomplish.
What is the fear of inadequacy?
What makes a person feel inadequate? Usually it’s an awareness or belief that they don’t have enough of something. This world judges people based on standards that are always changing. It holds a powerful magnifying glass on all of us and judges us based on its criteria.
I’m going to make a guess and say we all have feelings of inadequacy about something. Maybe it was about the clothes we wear, our level of education, our grades, where we came from, our backgrounds. Oh, it’s not always the same things as standards are based on culture or geographic location. It can be based affiliation or wealth. There’s always something trying to make us compare ourselves to each other.
Bible Characters Who felt Inadequate
Our fear of inadequacy often prevents us from doing the things we feel called called because we don’t want to fail. Our feelings of inadequacy can affect us in any area of our lives. But what does the Bible say about inadequacy? Who in the Bible felt inadequate?
It may surprise you to learn that quite a number of our Bible heroes also felt inadequate, so let’s talk about two of them.
When we think about Moses, we think about the man who went up to Pharaoh and demanded that he let God’s people go. We think of the man who led the Israelites for 40 years in the Wilderness and exhibited great faithfulness. We think about the man who was called a friend of God.
But before Moses became that man, he wrestled with his feelings of inadequacy. In Exodus 3, we read of Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush. God spoke to him out of the bush that burned but was not consumed.
It was here that Moses got the commission to return to Egypt and act as God’s mouthpiece to Pharaoh. But this commission was not one that Moses accepted lightly. When God told Moses He was sending him to Pharaoh, his response in Hebrew was, mî ‘ānōḵî which literally means, who me?
If God had asked Moses to deliver Israel forty years ealier, I’m sure his response would have been different. But after years of spending most of his time around sheep, he didn’t feel worthy. He felt inadequate.
Moses begins to list all the reasons he can’t do what God wants:
- What name should I give to the people when they ask who sent me? Exodus 3:13
- Suppose they don’t believe me? Exodus 4:1
- But God, I can’t speak! Exodus 4:10
After failing to convince God of his inadequacy, God breaks down and tells God, send anybody else (Exodus 4:13). What if God is allowed God to give into his fear of inadequacy?
Oh, I’m sure God would have chosen someone else to deliver Israel but Moses would have missed on the great adventure he had experienced as the friend of God.
When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet to His people, He said these words,
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations (Jeremiah 1:5 KJV).
Today, we like to believe that if God called us and have us a personal assignment we’d respond with joy and complete submission. But the truth is, we’d probably respond more like Jeremiah,
Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child (Jeremiah 1:6 KJV).
We often call Jeremiah the weeping prophet because many times throughout his ministry, he wept. Not only that, he had a message that seemed gloomy to a people who believed they would always possess the Promised Land.
But when he had first been called, and several times throughout his ministry, Jeremiah felt inadequate. God had given him a huge task, je was to tell his people people if if did not repent, they would be taken into slavery. This message was not one that anyone in Israel wanted to hear.
What if Jeremiah had given in to his fear of inadequacy? Again, I’m sure God would have appointed someone else to deliver the work, but that person wouldn’t have been Jeremiah.
The point I’m making is that our fear of inadequacy can prevent us from doing good God-ordained things. And depending on the thing, sometimes God will appoint someone else to do the work, but that person won’t be us.
You have important work to do and you can’t allow your fear of inadequacy to stop you from doing that work.
How Do You Deal with Feelings of Inadequacy?
In most cases, our feelings of inadequacy have little to do with fact and everything to do with feeling. So how do we deal with inadequacy? How do we tamp down our fear of inadequacy and not let it prevent us from what God has called us to do?
Here are two things you can do to keep your fear of inadequacy under control:
1. Remember that we’re all inadequate. Think about it for a second, everyone has felt that they were inadequate for one thing or another. Yet, some persons pushed through and others didn’t.
If you can remember that inadequacy is not unique to you, then you can push through the fear of inadequacy and do what needs to be done.
2. Remember who has called you to the task you now feel inadequate to accomplish. When God appoints you to do a task, He equips you to complete it. Just look at the two Bible characters we had discussed earlier:
Every excuse Moses presented as a reason he could not accomplish the task, God provided a solution.
When Jeremiah gave the reasons he felt inadequate, God responded with a solution. In both cases, God had the final word, they could do as He had asked because He would be with them (Jeremiah 1:7-9, Exodus 3:12, 4:12,.4:15).
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Bible Verses When You Feel Inadequate
When you feel inadequate, you feel powerless and unable to accomplish anything (which further compounds the feeling of inadequacy). But there is something you can do. Meditating on Scripture is a great way to dissipate a fear of inadequacy. Here are three verses you can meditate on:
- 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. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV
You may be inadequate but God is not. Lean on Him, allow His strength to cover your weaknesses.
- For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10 ESV
You are not alone. Regardless of what happens, God is still with you.
- For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NLT
Though you may feel inadequate to complete the task, remember that it is God who gives you the strength. When Christ lives in you and works through you, He will accomplish the will of His Heavenly Father.
When Feelings of Inadequacy Threaten to Overwhelm You
The world can make us feel “less than” if we let it.
Now, I know you’ve probably heard the saying that ‘no one can make you feel bad about yourself unless you let them’. And maybe you believe it, most days, but it’s cold consolation when your feelings of inadequacy rise up. So, I’ll tell you something that maybe you never thought about before:
Jesus was thought to be inadequate too.
Oh, the horror! I can see your faces now. How dare I claim that the Savior of the world was inadequate. That’s not what I’m saying. Inadequacies and the feelings of inadequacy have to do with expectations.
The moment that mankind sinned, God promised them a Redeemer. This promise was repeated many times throughout the history of the Abrahamic line. They didn’t know much about the Redeemer but they knew:
- He would be a king whose kingdom would last forever
- He would bear all the sins of humanity
- He would be a descendant of King David
The Israelites thought He would be born as royalty. They expected Him to be powerful in the ways of the world. They probably imagined that He would be handsome and stately. A man who spoke with great authority and who would lead them in rebellion against their Roman captors.They thought He would come as a king. Instead, He was born poor. Jesus was thought to be inadequate by His peers. #facingourfears #hebrews12endurance Click To Tweet
Instead, He came out of a scandalous union (an unwed, pregnant mother was a much bigger thing then than it is now). He was born into an impoverished family. And He wasn’t even handsome.
Jesus knew what it was like to be considered inadequate by His peers. Yet, He was not deterred. He knew the truth:
His worth came from His Heavenly Father.
We also can make that claim. Our ‘good enough’ comes from God. It doesn’t matter what we don’t have according to earthly standards, we are complete in Jesus (Colossians 2:10).
Challenge: In what areas of your life do you feel inadequate? Find one Bible verse to remind yourself that you are enough in Christ.