“Qualified.” It’s a loaded word. It means capable, competent, skilled, trained, experienced. We look for the most qualified plumbers, contractors, builders. We scour through applicants, if we are in a position to hire, to find those most qualified for a specific job. Colleges want the most qualified students. Voters want the most qualified candidates. This is good. Excellence is important.
However, there is in life a real temptation to look at the world, to look at one another even, only through the eyes of “qualification.” There is a temptation to view others, indeed to evaluate others, (I hesitate to say “judge” but it might be that too) on the basis of what they have done, rather than who they are. Gosh, sometimes we even do that to ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong. I want the most qualified plumber in my bathroom, and the most qualified repairman under my car, and the hefty absence of funds in our family checkbook because of a payment to a standardized test prep service indicates that I also want my kids to be the most qualified when they sit down to take required college entrance exams, but the value of an individual human being doesn’t rest on his knowledge of the intricacies of his profession, or on his score on the SAT test, or frankly on his ability to whip up a gourmet meal for the family. We are wisest if we remember that.
“There’s always going to be someone who is better than you in something,” is a sobering quote I remember hearing as a child. Rather than quelling my desire for accomplishment or excellence, hearing this freed me to try my best and not be afraid. Accepting this bit of wisdom was me facing the reality that even if I tried my hardest in some endeavor I might not be the best in the world, and that that’s okay. God loves me anyway, I came to realize. What a relief. Hearing that quote also put a dose of humility in all my endeavors.
Mother Teresa said, “We are not called upon to be successful, but faithful.”
Does that let us off the hook for trying to be successful too? No, success can be a way to give glory and honor to God. Honest work and using, as my dad would say, “the brains God gave you” is one way to say “thank you” to Him for his many gifts and to glorify him as well. But Mother Teresa’s quote reminds us that what God requires is faithfulness. He’ll handle the rest. Whew.
There’s a phrase going around e-mail circles and Facebook pages — perhaps you’ve heard it: “God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.” And this is very true. God will give the help any one of us needs to accomplish the tasks He calls us to do if we stick by his plan. We must work hard. Reach our potential. Only settle for the best, but recognize that our value as human beings doesn’t rest on what we achieve externally. It’s not all about awards or degrees or knowledge.
There will always be those smarter or more accomplished or more efficient than we may be, even if we try our best in every task we undertake. We shouldn’t worry ourselves with that, though. Besides being a temptation to envy, it can really drag us down in our daily efforts. If we feel pulled down by thoughts of our own smallness and mediocrity, feeling expendable perhaps in our daily work, we ought to remember that there is one place in our lives where we are absolutely indispensable, and that is in our families.
Many write more cleverly and clearly than I do. Some cook better. A few are more efficient and have more organized and more prettily decorated homes. But I can rest in the knowledge that despite my qualifications or lack thereof, as I struggle to be faithful daily, I am loved by God and needed by my family. My husband has but one wife; my children but one mother. I may or may not be the most “qualified” for these positions, but they are the positions God gave to me, and I’m going to proceed forward in them, knowing that relying on Him is enough.
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