rebelling against low expectations

Good Intentions Are Not Enough


The Importance of CompetencePicture in your minds a four-year-old boy. Curious, slightly mischievous, and with his limited four-year-old abilities, easily impressed by the strength and talent of adults. So when a repair man comes to fix his family’s furnace, the four-year-old is standing right outside the furnace closet, watching and admiring.

While he is watching and admiring he notices something he has never noticed before. There is a small hole in the side panel of the furnace, which the repairman is using to gain access to the furnace’s inner workings. An idea sneaks into the little boy’s head. This is his chance to do adult work! This is his chance to emulate the repairman who he admires! And so, when the repairman finishes the job and drives away — only after switching on the breaker that powered the furnace — the four-year-old boy finds a screwdriver, shuts himself in the dark closet, and plunges the screwdriver into the hole, where 240 volts of electricity wait for him.

[Now, for any of you who are getting nervous, don’t worry. We can say with special authority that this little boy doesn’t die. You see, this little boy was Brett.]

So there he was in the dark, darkness of the closet, and as he plunged his little screwdriver into the darkness of the hole, suddenly there was brilliant light. There was a flash and a poof, a szzzz! sound, and the smell of burnt plastic filled the air.

In a daze he walked out into the living area of our house, where his entire family, who had heard the sound, was frozen in mid-motion. His face was black, his eyes were bursting out of his head, and his hair was going Poof! But he was alive.

And he was alive because his screwdriver was dead. The little screwdriver was bent, blackened, and the peculiar smell of melting plastic came from the plastic handle — now melted and charred.

What is the point? The point is that Brett’s good intentions did not prevent him from nearly killing himself, while simultaneously making a complete fool of himself. His motives were good, but he lacked competence.

This point is especially relevant to rebelutionaries facing the exciting challenges God is calling our generation to tackle. We share this story, not to discourage or scare you (except from plunging screwdrivers into furnaces), but in order to make the point that good intentions do not guarantee success.

Brett’s good intentions didn’t keep him from nearly frying himself. And there are scores of Christian filmmakers, Christian authors, Christian politicians, and Christian businessmen who fail miserably, despite good intentions. As rebelutionaries, we must have character. Motives matter. But good intentions are not enough.

Think about these ideas, then join us in the comments section. Use the following exercise as a place to start the conversation:

Come up with a scenario where you have (or someone else has) good intentions in a particular endeavor, but lack competence.

  • What are some specific ways a lack of competence could undermine your efforts?
  • What are some specific steps you could have taken that could have given you the necessary level of competence?
  • What are some specific steps you can take now that will increase your level of competence in the future?
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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • Alex and Brett, I’m a little confused by this concept. I think I understand competance. If I wanted to run a marathon tomorrow I would fail–I can’t run more than a 5k. So I’m not competant enough to run a marathon, but I could work at it. Maybe in a few months (or in my case a few years..haha) I would be competant enough to. But is it ok to attempt to do something, make a few mistakes along the way and learn from them? Maybe its just me, but I’m getting the feeling from this article that I shouldn’t do what I know I can’t already accomplish. Whatever happened to “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again?”

  • oh and I loved that story of Brett! How cute! 😀 Sounds so much like something my 4-yr old brother would do! (His big dreams are to be a worker-man and a football player!! 🙂 )

  • Brett, you sure do have your share of funny childhood stories. I laughed almost as hard as I did reading your brother’s book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. A very good point brought out.

  • it is a very good point.

    as far as your question, erika, you don’t have to be perfect. but you can’t intend to do something, like run a marathon, and not prepare yourself to do it well. i think that’s the point here. alex and/or brett, please do correct me if i’m wrong.

    as far as myself and those questions you’ve got there:

    i am on the interpreting team at my church, interpreting the sunday services and youth meetings for the deaf. a lack of competence in this area could hinder the way God’s Word goes forth. if i sign something wrong, the deaf people for whom i am interpreting could be receiving unbliblical doctrine. one way i could have improved my competence was by getting certified and receiving an interpreter’s license. however, i was lazy and didn’t want to put the extra work into finding and taking a certification program. i believe this has effected my level of competence in this area. however, all is not lost! i continue to learn words, i practice interpreting the radio and interpret at church every chance i get. i am trying to grow in my interpreting skills by speaking with the other interpreters and asking them how i can do better, and of course always begging for more vocabulary!

    thanks for this story, guys. it made me chuckle. and, brett, there are a great number of young people across the country who are very glad you didn’t get fried!

  • Thanks for the encouraging post! I got really worried at first, before finding out who it was! Yikes. In answer to the questions: I’m the church pianist, and even if I have the good intentions of helping the congregation to worship and appreciate God through the music, I could seriously hinder their worship by being incompetent in my playing. To increase my level of competence, the obvious answer would be to practice as much as it takes, even if it means sacrificing more time. Another harder thing that I’m working on in this area is humbling myself to ask questions of people with knowledge in this field, and admit that ALOT of the time, I CAN’T succeed without their help.

  • When I read this story, I thought of Pinocio (the italian version), and how he always has good intenions but is very neive, and not competent. He is always trying to do good, but it never works out the way HE planned it.

    Sometimes, we do things that we think God will be pleased with, but things he didn’t tell us to do. For example, Saul when he didn’t kill everything, but instead, saved some of the animals for sacrifice. He also didn’t kill the king. He was told to kill EVERYTHING. Now, I don’t know if Saul had good intentions, but in 1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel tells Saul that obedience is better thatn sacrifice. Saul had greed that made him not competent to do the job. God never gives us more than we can handle. If Saul had been obedient he would have been competent. God gives us the competence we need.

  • Brett, you sound like me! 😀 reminds me of when I tried to make bread, notice the word TRIED, It consisted of sugar, flour, yeast, and colored marshmallows. My intentions were good, I was so proud because now mom didn’t have to make bread for supper. Well, needless to say it tasted awful. My inability to make bread definitely, undermined my efforts. I could have asked mom to help me with “my bread” before diving head first into it. Since then I have learned to cook (or at least I think I can). Still, I watch people who are better than me, even people who aren’t as good, because I can always learn.

    In Our Lord,

  • Dear Alex & Brett,
    Great story showing that competence is important!:) The first thing that came to my mind, thinking of a scenario, was: As we girls who want to save ourselves for our future husbands get asked questions such as “How will you get to know someone if you don’t date?”etc., it’s easy to not be prepared. But we should be, and need to be prepared… if we don’t know how to properly answer this important question and others like it, we could discourage others from acting in the right way. Some steps we can take to give us the necessary competence are: 1) We can ask the Lord for wisdom, along with meekness & fear.
    2)We can ask our parents for advice. 3) We can actually write out answers to the most asked questions, to really get it in our heads. May the Lord continue to bless you!
    In our Savior,

  • Brett, Way to go. That was the way to prove your manly insight.
    .just kidding. im glad your okay though.
    But I do have a question.Where have you been hiding all of this information?
    I find it rather amusing of a history. God bless. I will be praying that next time you see a power outlet of some kind you will aviod the temptation.I don’t think you have to really prove yourself anymore. God bless. Your sister in Christ, Hannah

  • Well, I have a scenario to share.

    My brother and I (I’m eighteen, he’ll be twenty next month) own and operate a videography business, we film events such as weddings, graduation commencement ceremonies, and we do commercial/advertisement work too. The medium of film is obviously extremely visual, and in the cinematic era that we live in (C’mon, you know you love movies), audiences are incredibly sensitive to the quality of the film their watching, whether they know it or now. If a film is high quality, you’ll know it. If a film is low quality, you’ll definitely know it! In the world of event videography, there is very little margin for error, as you’re filming everything spontaneously, as it’s happening. Proper framing is an absolute must, along with proper coverage of the even you’re filming. My brother and I have been goofing off with cameras for a very long time, but have only started using them as a career the last three or so years. Event videography and goofing off at home with cameras are two ENTIRELY different ball-games.
    Let me tell you, going into an event being expected to come out with a beautifully crafted film is not easy! If you don’t know what you’re doing (If you’re not competent, as it were), the results can be absolutely disastrous. I have first-hand experience with this, because I don’t have a very steady hand, and so lots of footage I’ve gotten at more than one event has been terrible. And then walking with a camera rolling (Which is almost inevitable) is a feat too, because then there will be the slight up-and-down movement of the camera, which becomes painfully noticeably during the editing.
    There is also the need to have quality framing, good sound, and having no color deviations between cameras during an event.
    I have waltzed into quite a few jobs, having really good intention of giving a couple a beautiful wedding video, but my lack of skill (Lack of competence) overruled my good intentions. Thankfully, have a brilliant brother (And father) who, through skillful editing, were able to cover up the mistake I made.
    Then came the part where I was required to face the mistakes I made, and then learn from it. We’ve had more than one ‘video workshop’ is which my father (Who used to be a photographer, and knows pretty much everything about using cameras) taught me the proper usage of a video camera, proper body movement while holding a video camera, and proper filming techniques.
    My parents, who are ‘quality control’ here at Weathervane Films, demands excellence. When excellence is not achieved, they make sure that next time around, we step up where we failed last time, and deliver a better product. It’s stressful at times, but I am truly grateful that my parents press me as hard as they do. (Please don’t let them know I said that though. :-P)
    So I know first-hand that good intentions are not good enough. You need good intentions if any project is going to succeed, but alas, good intentions are simply not enough.
    Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, had good intentions, and look what happened the them. O_o 😛

    Anyway. I hope that was relevant. . .

  • I’m sure that was the story that Brett was trying to keep secret. There goes your reputation Brett 😉

    For real though, very relevant point. Just because you want to do something good doesn’t mean you will succeed doing that. I believe that God even allows failure at some points to deter us from going down the wrong path.


  • Brett, is this why your hair is a little bit wavier then Alex’s? 😀

    When I was eight years old, my mother had asked me to pick up the bathroom. Trying to be a big girl I thought I’d not only clean the bathroom, but I would also make the bathroom smell good by lighting all my mom’s pretty candles in the bathroom. After I had proudly lit all the candles, I joined my family in the kitchen for lunch. But it wasn’t long until we heard a big crashing sound and Missy Kitty (our cat) running into the kitchen from the direction of the bathroom. Thinking that Missy Kitty had been naughty and knocked something over, my mother headed toward bathroom only to be greeted by flames. The newly remodeled bathroom was on fire!!!!

    My mom screamed and dad came running. Together they were hitting the flames with wet towels. Finally getting the fire out, my brother offered fire extinguisher he retrieved from the hall closet and asked if they needed it? Humor aside. The bathroom suffered minimal damage. However, it did take my mom some time to coaxed me from coming out from under the bed. Now looking back. Not a real safe place to be during that time.

    Even though I had good intentions to make the bathroom smell good, I shouldn’t have taken it upon myself to lite decorative candles without seeking permission.

    Not only do I think it is a good idea to listen to Smoky the Bear and not play with fire, but I also have learned to seek council before embarking on any project or adventure. I believe the input of others is very important.

  • I almost stopped breathing. This is just another reason to thank God for screwdrivers. 🙂

    Yes, I agree that good intentions aren’t enough and that character is important. I think a lack of competence would cause me to give up sooner and more easily. It could also cause me to become less sensitive to the needs of the people around me. I would be doing things for me and not for God.

    I remember reading the book Holy Ambition by Chip Ingram. In order to have a holy ambition, we must have broken spirits, dislocated hearts. I think that’s what we need in order to be competent enough: the willingness to let God use us…the willingness to have a dislocated heart to see the world’s needs…a broken spirit to let God work through us so that we can reach out and touch the lives of other people.

  • Your story is…electrifying!
    When I make mistakes when I play the piano, people always tell me, “oh, nobody noticed”, and it drives me crazy! I know I am not perfect, but I still want to do my very best. As it says in Ecclesiastes 9:10, Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might. I don’t think God cares for half baked jobs.

    One of my hobbies is photography. As Caleb said, there is very little margin for error. Proper framing, exposer, lighting, white balance, and so on and so forth, are very important. If non-christian folks can do such a good job, what’s the matter with the rest of us? Christians need to wake up and get with it!

    God bless,

  • I now know why the Lord always spoke in parables.. it seems to get the point across better than a long sermon. Brett’s story really put competence into perspective, it made it easy to understand. You should always have some knowledge before plunging into some thing. Thank you for humbling yourself in sharing these stories to bless others! Hopefully we will be able to come to one of your conferences this summer. -Monika

  • Hey,
    Good post!
    I was tight on time earlier so all I got out was that blessing. Hope your day went well.

    I bet your mother almost had a heart-attack many times over when you two were little!
    The Lord spared you for just such a time as this.
    I don’t mean to make you guys think that you’re more than you are, but I have to tell you, young Christians on-fire for Jesus are rather rare these days. Or perhaps they’re not rare, just silent. I really hope you guys realize just what a blessing you are.

    I have appreciated all of the posts thus far and will keep you and your ministry in prayer. Keep up the good work and may His Light continue to shine in your hearts.

    Because He Lives,

    Noella Antone

  • This reminds me of something my little sister did this past summer, she was ten. My family and I were at church[we live across the street in the parsonage] helping with something and my little sis was staying by herself for a few minutes. [We were in the parking lot in clear view of the house.] She decided that she wanted some hot chocolate, but discovered we didn’t have any mix. She determined that if she melted some chocolate chips [in my mom’s little crystal bow with the GOLD rim] and put them in milk it would make really good hot chocolate. When she put the crystal bowl with the GOLD rim in the microwave, the rim started sparking, the crystal cracked, ande the chocolate burnt to a crisp before she could get it out. Not wanting to get in trouble for 1) cooking while alone, 2) using the crytal bowl in the microwave, and 3) burning chocolate, she proceeded to get my favorite perfume. She sprayed most of the bottle of said perfume in the kitchen to cover the smell. Needless to say, when we got home, we knew what had happened. She had good intentions, to make a simple cup of hot chocolate, and, after burning it, to clean up her mess. She failed because she didn’t have a good enough knowledge of cooking to make what she wanted. Hope that’s relevant!

  • That is a really good point you made in your post. I often dive head first into something before I think about what I am doing. My intentions usually are good but my brain is usually missing in action. My mom’s most worn out phrase when I was little was think before you act because I was always getting myself into dangerous scrapes because I didn’t think before I would do something. I still have problems with that today and am still working on the thinking before acting thing. Thanks for another great post!

  • For those of you who were thinking that Brett has grown up, he hasn’t — he’s still messing with electricity.

    How do I know? The power went out while I was reading this post!

    Good post, though. I think the point is not so much that we should be competent as that we should strive for competence.

  • I don’t know if this is the kind of example you were looking for, but the KKK started with good intentions. They started an organization to find gifts for their wives and children, now look how far their good intentions have come.

  • Alex and Brett, thank you so much. I love the way you guys point out completeness of God’s expectations for us. So many Christians simply focus on the skills we need in evangelizing others or going out to serve on the mission field, but it’s so important to focus on building other skills, too. God wants us to achieve competency in other ways, too, such as by cultivating our minds and pursuing intellectual knowledge (book recommendation on this topic for everyone: “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” by Mark Noll). As Christians, we should know more about this world than anyone else–whether about Biology, Chemistry, History, Math, Politics. It’s all a part of God’s creation.

  • Hahahaha… Great story! I hope that one made it into the book, I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. And kudos to everyone working on their filming skills who commented; that’s ONE area where good intentions without competance have hampered the message of Christ alot lately (and to Malachi, who added another factoid to the historical examples section of my brain!)Do funny stories about attempts to acquire competance count?

    A few years ago I decided to learn to make pretty cakes. You know, the ones with smooth frosting and pretty flowers. So I mix up a chocolate cake, put it in the oven, and set the timer. While the cake is in the oven, I went outside. Trying to make the cake more nutritious, I picked a bunch of figs from our tree in the back yard. We never use the figs, and every year they fall to the ground and are wasted. I saw no reason why that should continue. Chocolate makes everything taste better, right? Well, I ground the figs (they became syrup), trying not to notice the smell of sickly sweetness, and added a couple pounds of chocolate chips, a stick of butter, and some serious powdered sugar… all in an effort to get a thicker consistancy. No such luck. It was still watery (but brown, and less sweet smelling). Right about now I figured out that, if adding sugar made it smell less sweet, then sugar was not what I needed. So I went into the fridge for more thickening-agents (which, according to the science I’d been learning to help me, would counterbalance the liquid once enough air had been added by whisking it). I found a big jar of “coconut spread”, opened and unused. We’d tried it before but without success, because it was so hard we couldn’t spread it on anything. Now that’s thickening agent, I thought. It didn’t really melt well in the microwave (which should have been my hint to start over and ditch the fig idea), but expieramentation resulted in a smoothening of the substance and into the frosting it went. Finally, success. The frosting began to thicken. Once I’d whipped it into spreadability (or so I thought), onto the cake it went. Looked good, now time to decorate! As I filled the decorating tube, a shine begin to form on the cake. The frosting squeezed out okay for a few minutes, but soon was so hard I could barely move it. Meanwhile, my cake’s frosting was MOVING. Sideways around the cake, the whole frosting seemed to be tightening and getting thicker. I’d stopped whisking it several minutes ago, so this couldn’t be air. The whole cake was covered in this now-alien-looking substance (I didn’t know you could make chocolate irridescent), and began to stiffen. It got harder, moved UP on the cake by a quarter inch, and in a few minutes was a glob of fudgy something that reacted that rubber when pulled on and like shortening when cut. Apparently, the “coconut spread” was pure coconut oil, and 5,000 calories was in that frosting. I’d pretty much made butter, and my cake was the mold. Needless to say, next time I wanted to make frosting, I checked out the “food” part of my food science first.

  • Thank you for posting this story; it was entertaining, as well as convicting. 🙂

    I tend to take little bits of knowledge and use them to convince myself and others I know what I’m talking about. When friends come to me for advice, that tendency can be extremely detrimental, because I could give them advice, thinking I know best, and discover later that I didn’t know everything that was happening in the situation or that my perspective was flawed. Improving competence in that area would entail not being satisfied with cursory knowledge of certain subjects, learning how to listen better and rely on the wisdom of those older and wiser than I, and cultivating an attitude of humility and dependence on God.

  • Brett I kind of forgot that I have a story of my own.When I was 2 I locked my parents out of the house.Oh well, I geusse everyone has there moments or hours.
    Your Sister In Christ, Hannah

  • Hahaha! I have a story about cooking/cleaning incompetence. I once tried to toast crumpets in the toaster oven, but I didn’t clean the toaster oven out well enough, and I guess there was some butter on one of the heating tube things. Anyway, when I started cooking the food, I left the room, and when I returned, our toaster oven was being eaten by flames. It is always necessaryto have the competence to do things, even if it seems like an easy task. And to be more aware while toasting food…

  • I heard from someone a long time ago (I don’t remember who), the story in the bible, in which the master gives his servents talents acording to their abilty. And I was told that it is talking about those who God has given gifts who do and don’t use them to Glorify God and for his kingdom. Is this true? Please, ANYONE respond.

  • Kole: I think you are right about the Parable of the Talents. Thanks for sharing!

    Everyone: Great stories! You might think my story was funny, but you guys have some great ones as well! I did want to point out though that some of these stories are great examples of doing hard things and learning in the process (even though you failed).

    The mistake many Christians fall into is believing that because they are “right” they will always be successful, or that because God will help them they don’t need to prepare or practice.

    It’s always okay to fail at hard things (the goal is growth, not “success”), but we must also be careful not to bring shame on the name of Christ by doing things in His name in a sloppy and careless fashion.

  • We represent Christ in everything we do, if we are His. I (we) need to make sure that I’m not being lazy with the responsibilities God has given me.

  • Brett’s story reminds me of another boy I know who tried to get some toast out of the toaster with a knife when it was plugged in… Mum and Dad raced into the kitchen when they saw the blue flash. They found a small boy holding a knife with finger-prints now melted into it… Amazingly the finger prints were not the right size to be his, and the only explanation that we have is that there is an angel flying around with burnt wings. What was that about God watching over the righteous and their families?!?!

    [b]Come up with a scenario where you have (or someone else has) good intentions in a particular endeavor, but lack competence.[/b]

    Not so long ago I was asked to play a flute part to a song in church… with no chance to practice. (Just before the service.) I hadn’t played for ages as it was, had only played it for one year and didn’t have lots of experience to fall back on. Besides all that I am not good at playing with people I am not really used to… It was horrid!! The other flute player was giving me dirty looks the whole time and I was struggling to keep up with all the sight reading, and not totally betray my feelings on my face. (For those who don’t play music half the trick of you thinking that we musicians are just amazing is us keeping a straight face when we play a wrong note.) I sure could have done with some practice then!!!

    [b]What are some specific ways a lack of competence could undermine your efforts? [/b]

    Well I haven’t been asked to play flute in church since…

    [b]What are some specific steps you could have taken that could have given you the necessary level of competence? [/b]

    Practiced, before hand in preperation for when I would be needed.

    [b]What are some specific steps you can take now that will increase your level of competence in the future? [/b]

    Keep learning and practicing.

  • Good thing you learned from that mistake about how not to almost fry yourself to a crisp, Brett! I’m sure that lesson will come in very handy in the future as far as not being electrocuted. 🙂

    I’ve got an incompetence story as well…

    When I was about nine or so I had no idea which kind of soap is supposed to go into the dishwasher. We always used different kinds and my mom always put the right amount into it (I suppose she didn’t want me to dump the whole box into the washer the first time) for me, so I never really figured it out until later…

    My mom, Elisabeth, and I were helping our grandmother clean her house, and I wanted to be a big help by loading the dishwasher. Not knowing what I was doing, I grabbed the bottle of Palmolive. I looked on the back of the container, and figured it was the right one because it stated, “Dishwashing liquid.” I filled the indentation of the dishwasher to the [b] very top [b] with Palmolive and closed the lid, then shut the door. I turned on the dishwasher and walked away.

    About fifteen minutes later the three of us heard strange sounds coming from the kitchen, and ran to find out what it was. We were greeted with the sight of soap suds [b] completely [b] covering the linoleum floor, several inches deep. The soap was rapidly spreading throughout the whole room and also spread into the next room, where there was carpeting. We opened the back door and tried to mop, sweep, and scoop out the then-increasing mess. The ground was slick and we were slipping around, and just as we grabbed another broom my grandmother walked in the front door of the house. She was shocked at the mess but was grateful that I tried to help. (I suppose I was very blessed that day; it could have been alot worse)

    There was minimal damage (unless you count the embarrassment to my pride), with the exception of the dishwasher being rendered unusefull, sticky, and difficult to open for a time. We (of course) had to clean up the mess (has anyone noticed that when you add water do dish soap [like Dawn or Palmolive], that it gets even [i] more [i] slick and messy? It got much worse before it got better…). Overall, it could have been much worse than it actually was.

    My incompetence at dishwashing caused a very big mess. Had I simply asked to be shown what to do, I could have avoided several hours with a mop and bucket. I learned to pay attention to what “dishwashing liquid” actually implied (mainly: dish washing by hand), and that from that point on I should only use it if the bottle or box said, “Dishwasher soap or detergent” But more than that, I learned that if I did not know something, I should ask for help, clarification, or direction. Doing such will ensure that I do not make a similar mistake in the future.

    In His Service,

    ~Kirsten A. Gruber

  • My little brothers did something like that a few years ago. They were about 5 and 6 years old. The bathroom sink was having plumming problems and Dad was too busy to fix it. So, out came the plastic tools! A little while later they came running upstairs, “Mom, Mom, there’s water everywhere!” Mom went down to find the sink cabinet full of water which was quickly running over and covering the floor. I don’t think they got in trouble, because they really wanted to serve Mom and Dad. In fact, Mom could hardly keep from laughing! However, they did learn that there were tasks they were not capable of accomplishing!

    Thanks for reminding us that even thought we are older now, we are still impotent beings and it honors God for us to admit our weakness and depend on Him as well a strive to attain the skills we lack.

  • I think with the whole competence thing, the problems a lot of people face because of a lack of competence is actually because they didn’t wait for God to show them what to do.
    Moses was trying to free the Israelites when he killed the Egyptian, and that cost him a looooooong time in the desert.

    I’m guessing that it was Alex’s idea to use the story about Brett???
    Seriously, I think stories are one of the best ways to get your point across, because they are a lot easier to remember, (and more interesting!) than a list of concepts.

  • Thank you so much for that post!! It really encouraged me.

    I know that it may sound strange to say a post like that is encouraging, but here is why: Brett, when you were 4, you didn’t have the level of competence that you needed to complete that task. But as you got older, you grew, and you reached that level of competence. We are all given opportunities to grow and to increase our level of competence. For me, I’m in nursing school right now. My pastor always says that God gives us strong desires to use the particular gifts He has given us. I have an overwhelming passion for helping and serving people, especially in other countries. This desire has led me to seek out training as a nurse, so that I may become competent enough to serve God in this area. However, what would happen if I tried to just go to another country and work as a nurse, without any training? I could possibly kill someone! This would definitely not be displaying God to anyone! But if I strive for and attain a level of competence, then within that I can do wonderful things in Christ’s name. My teachers always tell us to do things, “within the scope of your practice.” That means, if you don’t know how to do it, don’t do it!! But that doesn’t mean don’t learn.

    I think that another important concept is that as Christians, we should be striving to attain a higher level of competence than the world. If you do know how to do something, do it with all your might. (Eccl 9:10) We are to honor and glorify Jesus Christ in everything we do. What does the world have to work for besides money and fame? In my nursing training, I find myself often criticized by my fellow students for the amount of work I put into what I do. Often students try to get by with the minimum to pass, but I think that we should be working for so much more than that. Competence can only be reached by effort, not half-hearted attempts so you can just slide by.

  • Great entry-and a funny story. 🙂

    I agree that we need competence. One example in my life is that I’m currently writing a book(not fiction-it’s somewhat political in nature), and I’m very aware of the fact that if I’m not competent in writing and editing, it won’t be published-and the message won’t get out to people.

    There have been times in my life when lack of practice or preparation have reduced the quality of my efforts. I definitely think that we need to be well practiced in whatever we’re doing, and(if necessary) well researched too.

  • I didn’t read everyone’s comments so I might be being redundant. But, skimming over them, I felt I had something relevant to share. Competency is (as everything else in your relationship with God) all about the heart attitude. I have put myself in situations before where God gave me the time and energy to prepare, (making myself competent) and I just didn’t. Bad idea. He has also put me in situations where preparation was not an option; that is when I have to trust Him that I am as compentent as He wants me to be for the situation.
    As a prideful and lazy perfectionist, I have allowed messages like this to haunt me and keep me from being bold for God because I wasn’t perfect yet. (Silly human.)
    Go to God with all the thoughts that this post brings up in your mind and see how He sifts through them for you. If you start focusing on yourself and your need for competence, then you’re not focused on Him. It’s one of the enemy’s favorite tactics.
    For me this post was a needed reminder to listen to God when He tells me NOW is the time to prepare for ____ and follow His leading with faith and obedience. Thanks guys.

  • Lauren: AMEN SISTER!!! =D That’s exactly right. The point is not that we must be perfectly prepared before we do things, but that we are faithful to use the time and resources that God has blessed us with (and it’s still Him working through us — not us accomplishing something on our own). Nevertheless, there are many times when we have no external supports (like lots of time to practice) and we need to depend wholly on God. In both cases He is enough. =)

  • A while a long time ago i tried to talk to one of my agnostic friends about God and some various topics about Christianity and its morals. And first of all we were relatively new friends, so our friendship wasnt that strong. And two i wasnt that solid in my beliefs so i may have given him wrong information, which would ruin my attempt at helping him understand Christianity more. And i really didn’t know how to approach the situation because i was young and unknowledge. And though i new my Christianity fairly well, i just wasnt prepared to defend my faith, and he was. So i ended making his opinion more concrete to him instead of leading him closer to the Lord.
    But now i realize that first i should have waited until i was better friends with him, so that he would know i cared about him, and he would be more receptive to my input. Also i needed to be more confident in my faith, and more knowledge about it as well. And also just use the Bible more, so thats its not just me talking but concrete facts that are definately more reliable. And make sure i’m ready for spiritual combat. Because if i’m not i’m more likely to do more harm than good for my cause.

  • When I was ten, my best friend and I tried to make cookies. We tried our best, but all we did was make a mess and dough that turned rock hard while it was supposed to be refrigerated…it would still be sitting in the fridge if we hadn’t moved.

  • Hi! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the outstanding work!

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →