In this tumultuous decade of my 20’s, this question keeps popping up.
Do I have the skills I need to excel at this job? Do I have the drive and risk tolerance to work for myself? Do I have the planning and decorative skills to host a baby shower? Graduation party? Do I have the discipline and stamina to scratch my way out of debt? The selflessness, energy and straight up will to be a mother?
The answer to any of the above is ambiguous at best, discouraging and fear inducing at worst. I’m in trouble if all I have to rely on is my faith in myself and my own abilities.
I remember a moment where I felt overwhelmed by the fear that I didn’t have what it took, panicked by the idea of failure. I called my dad and said those very words, “I don’t know if I can do this.”
I expected him to encourage me, to remind me of how smart and capable I am. Instead he said, “You might not be able to do it, at least not the way you’re imagining.”
I grew up in the generation that was told we could do anything we wanted, so I immediately resisted the “maybe you can’t” hypothesis.
Looking back, it was the best thing he could have said. Accepting my limitations and the very real possibility that I don’t have what it takes taught me to ask better questions.
Like, “So what?”
It’s a healthy thinking process to consider the possibility of failure- complete, utter, dismal failure- and do it anyway. Once the worst case scenario is on the table and you decide you can live with it, you can move forward with much less fear.
What if I start a blog and it’s mediocre and no one reads it?
So what? Then I’ll have worked hard to improve my writing and the next writing thing I do will be built on a stronger foundation.
Maybe asking if you have what it takes for this particular thing is the wrong question. Maybe this is the thing that won’t work out, but it will prepare you for what’s next.
We live in a failure averse culture, but failure isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. Failure isn’t a tragedy; never trying for fear of failure is. Failure provides growth and learning that can’t come from quick success.
Before we set aside the “do I have what it takes” question as irrelevant: know that you are probably underestimating yourself.
We rarely know our own capacity until it is tested. If we only do what we already know we can do, we never get the fruit that comes from pushing ourselves.
More importantly, we could miss the chance to see God work powerfully in our lives if we never pass Him the ball. If we always work out of our own strength, we miss the joy that comes in trusting God instead of ourselves.
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.
2 Corinthians 12:9
I like to know all the steps before I start something. I like guarantees and sure things. Who doesn’t, right?
Aside from salvation in Christ, which is a pretty big guarantee, most things in life aren’t a sure thing.
Not having it all figured out means you’re still open to learning, open to the Lord showing up and teaching you new things. This place? The unknown, where you feel weakest? This is where growth inevitably happens.