When I was young, my primary school teachers insisted we imitate what top scorers did. To me, this meant, in a literal sense, watching them studying, and if they did it with their legs crossed, leaning on one side in a certain way, I would laughably do precisely that. After growing up, I have found this character morphed into copycat tendencies of those I look up to and, in a greater sense, those I even wished I was.
This is what most young people have fallen prey to, and some have a name for it: imposter syndrome (a psychological construct characterized by the persistent belief that one’s success is undeserved; self-doubt of intellect, skills, or accomplishments). In a deconstructed name, it is a belief that we are not good enough for anything, e.g., productivity, fruitfulness, positive results, etc.
The “Maybes” Family
In scripture, there are some examples of people who struggled with the same ideologies that if their circumstances were different, they would produce better results.
- Gideon: The Israelites had long been oppressed by the Midianites and called out for help from the Lord. The Lord, through his angel, commanded Gideon to go against their enemies and promised that God would grant him help. Gideon felt that he was not good enough to lead because of his background, both location and family. (Judges 6:15)
- Moses: Moses compared his speech with what he considered acceptable and hence felt not good enough to be sent and used by the Lord. He was ashamed that his stammering would not be eloquent enough to stand before the Israelites and lead them out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 4:10)
- Israelite spies: Moses sent spies to the promised land, Canaan, to advise on how they would acquire it from the inhabitants. The spies perceived their strength as not good enough to go up against the inhabitants at Canaan and greatly discouraged any attempts to do it. (Numbers 13:31)
These characters had a strong drive of inadequacy, which led to them cowardly refusing tasks, for they did not see any way of achieving them. They looked into themselves, causing a self-reliance that incapacitated any thoughts of even trying.
The Cause of Such Feelings
What causes us to feel not good enough?
- Past experiences: A certain timidness is rooted in our history. We may have grown up being rebuked strongly for any attempts to do something good, which gives us fear. Our reliance on people’s approval changes our goals from pleasing God alone with our actions to pleasing men (Colossians 3:23-24). It may also be that the many wrong choices you indulged in before Christ and even while in salvation make you shrink at any glimpse of the unbound nature Christ has given you to do good things. These experiences make us forget that whom the Son sets free is free indeed! (John 8:36)
- Self-condemnation: Beating ourselves up when things do not turn out as expected is a common thing. We incline towards perfectionism, and anything that looks like it is not good becomes an avenue for self-criticism. We often forget the strength Christ has promised us in our weaknesses. (Romans 8:1, 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10)
- Discontentment: Lack of fulfillment in what we already have sprouts the root of discontent. We believe we do not have it because we do not deserve it. Our heart motives draw to our pleasures, and lack thereof roots discontent. (James 4:3-6, 1:17) We bypass the good and eternal free gift of salvation to gain temporal desirable pleasures in our sight. (1st Timothy 6:6-10, 1st John 2:15) Sometimes, that battle is internalized to hating how we are formed, like our body structure. A comparison of our bodies with others’ bodies and a forgetfulness of the One who formed us as we uniquely are put our hearts in turmoil. (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:15)
- Jealousy: A sense that others have it better than we do makes us deem what we have as nothing and even rage at them or their things. Scripture tells us of a similar path taken by the eldest son on the return of the prodigal son. His jealousy made him feel he deserved more. (Luke 15:29) Coveting people’s things makes us think that we cannot be enough unless we have the same things as they do. Our jars are always empty even though full. (Proverbs 14:30, Proverbs 27:4)
- Pride: Our deceitful hearts convince us that we deserve better than what we have. We are inclined to the thought that we are better than others; hence, if the role seems to have reversed, we do not feel sufficient. (Proverbs 11:2)
All of the above align to a sin issue. A self-reflecting question would be: are we good enough? A unison answer would be NO. The reasoning behind it can vary, but here is a uniting one: “None is righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10)
We are Enough
This is a relieving statement. A broken world full of imperfections is what we were born in. That which God called good in creation (Genesis 1:31) was blurred by sin and made not good (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 14:1, Romans 3:23). It was made impossible to have any good in us when sin came. This is an undeniable fact as we are all conceived in sin (1st John 1:8-10), and from birth, our flesh resists all good things. A sinful world means all our efforts on self-reliance would be futile, and only that which is done in Christ alone is eternally fulfilling. If we then are sinners and no good can be found in us, how can we ever be enough?
- The great gift of grace: we can rely on the unmerited favor the Lord has granted unto us(John 1:16). It helps us do everything that is set out for us, such as work, school, businesses, and life itself in God’s strength and not our own. (Colossians 3:23)
- Justification: the sinner is turned into a saint through Christ’s atonement and salvation. A famous hymn says, “But I know Whom I have believed, And am persuaded that He is able, To keep that which I’ve committed, Unto Him against that day.” Dear saint, we can only submit our works and our displeasured emotions/thoughts to Christ and believe in Him to satisfy us (Psalm 19:14). If you are not yet born again, I would implore you to seek the merciful Saviour, who is able to take upon himself that heavy burden of guilt and sin to grant you a yoke of being enough and for him only. (Matthew 11:28-30)
- Trusting in the Lord: have you laid all your trust in God, or what is that thing that you still feel the need to take absolute control over? We must loosely hold everything by trusting it all to God (Proverbs 3:5-6). Do not put your trust in the assurance and approval of men nor in yourself (Jeremiah 17:5, Psalm 118:9). Our utmost dependency on God transforms us in His likeness.
In God’s presence, there is fullness of joy in all we commit to and innermost pleasure in it (Psalm 16:11). Do not lean on your deceptive thoughts the next time you think you are not enough (Proverbs 3:5-6). A price has been paid for you, one that even the richest of persons cannot repay. You do not do things well because you are skilled, neither do you lack to because you are not skilled enough; only Christ strengthens you in the extremes of either (Philippians 4:13). Let no one despise you in your youthfulness to shy away from engaging in something (1 Timothy 4:12).
As shown in the above references, you are not good enough; you are more than enough in Christ Jesus.