In the eighth-grade spelling bee I nervously spelled learner with an extra “er” even though I am a good speller. I got second place in science fair after I dropped the index cards with my presentation notes (and didn’t have them numbered). I was the runner-up to my classmate in a statewide reading contest, so I traveled to Pittsburgh and watched her compete from my seat in the audience. And despite my passion for writing I failed in my initial bid to become editor of my high school newspaper.
There is perhaps no worse feeling than realizing that your best is not good enough.
The Lie: “You are not ____ enough.”
However your mind fills in the blank most of us have heard those words echo in our minds at different times in our lives. As I shepherd my second child through high school I’m now watching my children confront the same thing. These are the years in which they are compared to their peers in just about everything: GPA, standardized test scores, athletic prowess, physical appearance, friend groups, to name just a few.
As they move toward college the differences become defining, determining who gets scholarships and who does not; who gains admittance to the schools of their dreams and who does not; ultimately, who is superlative and who is not. Yet by these worldly standards half of us are necessarily average, and even the exceptional are average at some things.
The problem comes when we respond to this realization by deciding to dream smaller; little dreams risk less and hurt less when they don’t come true. The temptation is to resign ourselves to living a small, safe life. Yet that’s not what Jesus did, nor what He calls us to do.
3 Truths that “You are Enough.”
Here are some powerful truths from the apostle Paul that will equip you to combat the lie and relentlessly pursue the big dreams and big life that God had in mind for you from the very beginning (Jeremiah 29:11):
Your life is an essential part of God’s salvation plan.
Saving is all his idea and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. (Ephesians 2: 7-10, The Message)
In God’s economy weak is strong.
Paul explains it like this: So I wouldn’t get a big head I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me:
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size — abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10, The Message)
We were not saved to be safe.
Jesus did not come to ensure that life is safe and comfortable. He came to save us, as many as possible, and He enlists those of us already saved in His epic, world-changing work. How? First by recognizing and using the gifts we have been given with this end game in mind:
I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. (1 Corinthians 12: 14-24, The Message)
Jesus warns us that, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.” He knows what the thief is after: your life, if not in whole then in pieces. The whisper that “You are not ____ enough” is designed to rob you of abundance and leave scarcity; to kill your grandest dreams of what your life can be and point you toward something smaller and safer; and to destroy your confidence in your significance to your Maker by redirecting your focus to the world’s fickle standards.
I came that you may have life and have it abundantly.”
- Are you pointing your children faithfully toward God’s economy and their infinite value to Him, or do you allow them (and yourself) to get caught up in worldly comparisons?
- Where in your life are you living too small and too safe?
- What big dream have you been too afraid to pursue?
- How are you filling the blank: You are not [______] enough? Try filling in this blank instead:
…but the Lamb will defeat [my _______], proof that he is Lord over all lords, King over all kings, and those [of us] with him will be the called, chosen and faithful.” Revelation 17:14