A sense of inadequacy can be your best friend. In today’s world, our society sees itself as a modern culture complete with all of the conveniences of modern life, and for much of the western world, comforts afforded by freedom and prosperity. As a result, we have very little need for God’s help or assistance, much less companionship and relationship.

This independent and self-sufficient attitude unfortunately trickles over into our spiritual lives. We often treat God as a consultant who is available when a need for Him arises. Most of our everyday lives we can handle on our own.

John 15:5 says:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

I love the illustration about abiding in Christ and bearing fruit. Here Christ gives us a beautiful picture of what it means to be connected to God and Him living His life in and through us. The “problem” that I have with this verse is that I really want to be able to make fruit on my own. There are a lot of things I can do on my own. Certainly, I don’t have to depend on God for everything.

But that is really the point of this passage. We really can’t do anything without him. He gives life and breath, provision for food, housing, and health. He is the source of peace, joy and love. He is a companion and friend. He is our savior and redeemer. My salvation is totally dependent on Him.

Yet Christ didn’t come to bring us a sense of inadequacy. He came to live his life through us. It is possible to overemphasize our inabilities and live paralyzed by fear and defeat. There are many passages of scripture that would speak to the contrary including Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” and 2 Tim. 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”.

However, it is important to be reminded that our strength is from Him and it is though Him that we do what we do. I remember the first time I led chapel here at Cedarville University. There seemed to be some unrest and nervousness that accompanied the occasion. While some of it was a normal reaction to new circumstances, there was also some pressure of my colleagues watching me lead chapel for the first time and others who might be evaluating me as the new church music and worship professor.

Although I was very prepared, I decided to embrace the feelings of inadequacy and be reminded that I needed God for everything–even a relatively short chapel worship set. I also prayed that God would remind me of this feeling often and remind me of my need for him.

We are singing this great old hymn Sunday. May it help us recognize our inadequacy!

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou bless├Ęd Son.


10 comments to Inadequacy

  • Mike Powell

    I have to totally agree with all of this. I think we really do take for granted how much God’s hand is over our lives and how we really do have a salvation that is totally dependent on God. There hasn’t been one instance where I didn’t need God help in my life. Inadequacy is something that we can’t become comfortable with and we need to remember that God is in control and we have to rely on him to get through each day.

  • Jacob Tudor

    This year has probably been on of the most testing, yet most Spiritually intimate years I have ever experienced. In all my classes I have found myself being overstressed with crazy work loads and just never having the time I wanted in order to put forth my best according to my abilities. But even through this, God has always provided. From extended due dates in times of excessive work, wisdom and discrenment when writing papers, to doing well on tests and exams when I felt I wasn’t as prepared as I needed to be, God always gave me exactly what I needed when I needed it, even if I did not deserve it! I have been greatly reminded this year how inadequate I would be without the grace and mercy of God, and in my thankfulness I have come to be much closer to Him.

  • Brian Fanelli

    Much like Jacob, this year has been one characterized by spiritual growth and challenges to live out an authentic Christ-centered life. More than anything, through the trials that this year has brought on, I’ve learned how extremely important it is to rely solely on God’s strength. The times that I try to live through my own power always end in failure and defeat. My own brokenness is a constant indication of my need for God, and the hymn that was posted is such a powerful reminder of my complete inadequacy.

  • Grant McCurdy

    The fact that God gives us complex and unique minds (and therefore personalities) adds to the confusion as we try to develop a less self-reliant mindset. Being a very laid-back person I find it very easy to put on a facade that appears to trust God in all circumstances. My tendency is to do everything I can to control a situation, and then not worry about the outcome at all once I have done my part. But while the symptoms of this mindset LOOK very similar to trusting God, my heart, and pride, are just tragically comfortable in self-reliance. I therefore agree that developing an understanding of our inadequacy is crucial; but, the state of needing this greater understanding can, unfortunately, look deceptively similar to trusting God. Its important to recognize that not “being worried” and “trusting God” are not innately linked.

  • Isaac Murrell

    Haha! I am so glad that we are talking about this because it has crossed my mind multiple times this year. Forgive me if my thoughts seem everywhere; I will try and keep them connected.

    As I mentioned, this topic of depending on God in everything has crossed my mind many times this year. Often, I find myself going through the motions of life and doing virtually everything on my own and not stopping to pray about anything. I have stopped myself, sat still, and have pondered what my life looks like from my perspective and God’s. I wonder what God must think of me when I don’t acknowledge him and seek to pray in all things. This is a practice I fail at constantly. I’ll look at my life and see myself only trying to do things my way and be in control, but I desperately yearn to change and start prayerfully seeking God in all aspects of life. Some of my hangups on this involve me thinking to myself, “Does God really want to hear from me about everything? Does he get tired of me asking? How long until I hear from him? Will he really act and show himself faithful?” And while I know what the Bible says, and I have seen the character of God and his faithfulness in my life, I still have a lack of faith, a selfish attitude, and prideful behavior. I constantly wonder, “What would my life look like, or what would God start to do if I was faithful to prayerfully seek him? Would he richly bless this even though I am nothing?” I guess its funny to acknowledge that I’m nothing because my behavior isn’t showing that. If I truly believed I was nothing and inadequate, I would start to live out seeking God in everything and going to him constantly as my source. I guess I can testify with Paul with what he writes in the book of Romans talking about doing what he doesn’t want to do and not doing what he needs to do. I believe it is a battle of sinful nature. I agree with you Dr.O in wanting to be reminded that I am inadequate and I need God in every aspect of my life. Its definitely hard for me because I hate feeling inadequate.

  • Jonathan Holman

    I think that that’s what worship really is. Giving God the things in which we are inadequate. If we really think about it, we are inadequate in all things. We are incomplete people without Christ. But with him we are made complete. We have no abilities, except that which is given by God. What better way for God to be Glorified than for his greatness to be shown in our inadequacy.

  • Ashley Auch

    My line of thinking is very similar to Isaac’s. I’ve been wondering lately how the relational, loving God I claim to know feels every time I try to do things on my own. We serve such a BIG, capable God, and yet we act like He’s not to be trusted. I don’t want this to come across the wrong way, but we have such an incredible resource in God that we rarely use. It’s kind of ridiculous when you really think about it. We’ll choose to rely on our imperfect, sinful, self-destructive inclinations before our perfect, omniscient, loving God. We always act so defeated when relying on ourselves fails, but this is actually a blessing because it points us back to God. What would our world look like if Christians actually depending on God to the extent they’re suppposed to?

  • Jason Carnegis

    Being reminded daily that we need Jesus is a very important part of a Christian’s life. Knowing that just makes life a lot less stressful knowing that God is watching out for us and that he has our back. I think that even in the little things we can give them up to God and acknowledge that he cares just as much about them as we do. As a daily reminder, this way of thinking can also help us as human beings to be more humble knowing that we can’t really thrive on our own and that we need God daily.

  • Jordan Redfield

    I love this post!!!! I think the church in general needs to be reminded of its helplessness and dependency on Christ in all things. I believe we’ve lost a large sense of humility in our lives. Our culture pounds into us the idea that we need to be independent, confident, and successful. I think we let that infiltrate into our spiritual lives for sure.
    I’ve been reminded frequently recently of how small and insignificant I am compared to the mighty God I serve. I am NOTHING without Him. Anything I accomplish is not of my own strength or for my glory but thanks to Him and for His glory! And if I’m properly living the life of a Christ follower, than my life is not my own anyways and all the fruit my life bears is for the cause of Christ. As Paul says, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” and that we must “die to self.”
    So I agree that a renewed sense of inadequacy is important…we need to remember that every single aspect of our lives depends completely on Him and that we are literally nothing without Christ…as Colossians 1 says, “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together!”

  • Caleb Gordon

    I agree with this so much! This year has really been a struggle for me and I have learned that when the “slats” of the proverbial floor get kicked out from under me, I know where my solid rock and firm foundation is. I know that I can do nothing apart from God. No matter how hard I try, I am incapable to succeed in even the smallest areas of my life. With God all things are possible and with Christ we are invited into his presence.
    We are shaped by God daily if we allow him, and sometimes it is unpleasant yet it is our weakest times in which God works in our lives and gives us our biggest spiritual growth spurts.