Have you ever caught yourself thinking ‘I don’t think I can’ at one or more points in your life? Maybe you have been given a new task or were asked to participate in a meeting that you feel is out of your league. Perhaps you have been appointed to lead a project, which you know nothing about. How would you react to it?
In the past twelve years of formally working in the corporate world, I’ve come to define myself as the introverted communications gal. I am fascinated with media and content, but never with people – unless I’ve been with them for, say, ten years, enough to feel comfortable.
It does sound ironic, but it is possible. I rely on structured communications plans, audience data, and the tried and tested ‘formula of surprise’, but I’d instead type away behind a screen and let others do the talking.
Has it worked for me? I think it has. But it has held me back from reaching my full potential as well.
Today is a convenient time to write, my son’s asleep, and I have the time to think. As I reread Moses’ story from the pages of Exodus, I get reacquainted with his first encounter with God.
Now let me back it up a little, for the sake of you who needs to remember, Moses was our baby boy who floated on a bassinet across the Nile only to be discovered by Pharoah’s daughter and was eventually raised as one of them in Egypt.
Now I speak of Moses as an adult – after he fled from Egypt to live a happy life with his wife and children. And as he tended the flock one day, he saw a burning bush that intrigued him. When he walked over, God spoke to him and said, “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.”
And imagine this being instructed to a humble man/woman such as yourself by the boss, right? Perhaps, you’d say, “Pharaoh? Egypt? How come all these horrible things keep haunting me? Past is past! “ Or, we could think, “Me? Why me? I never studied this in class back in college. I know nothing about freeing people. Who am I to be the one to lead?”
This is exactly how Moses felt. He said, “Who am I that I should go to Pharoah and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)
But that’s not his only question, he was also suddenly conscious about what other people will think of him. He asked, “What if they don’t believe me?” (Exodus 4:1)
Then, he started seeing his weaknesses and shortcomings. “Lord, I have never been eloquent. I am slow of speech and tongue,“(Exodus 4:10). See here, the bible reveals that Moses had a ‘disability.’ Maybe, physically, he cannot speak well – he stutters, and that’s not because he was shy or timid, but he was born that way – his features were not perfect.
And as if God has not gotten his signal, he said finally, “Please send someone else to do it,” (Exodus 4:13).
But the amazing thing is that God, in his sovereignty was already able to think ahead. He never invalidated Moses’ feelings – instead, he encouraged him that DESPITE ALL THESE NEGATIVE THINGS ABOUT HIM, He still chose him to do this very special mission.
For the sake of clarity, here is everything that God said to Moses, while he’s busy doubting himself.
|MOSES’ SELF-DOUBT||GOD’S RESPONSE|
|“Who am I that I should go to Pharoah and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”||“I will be with you and this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you.”|
|“What if they don’t believe me?”||“What is that in your hand? (A staff) Throw it and reach out your hand and take it by the tail. (Moses threw his staff and it turned into a snake, he reached out again and the snake turned back into a staff). This is so that they may believe that God appeared to you.”|
|“I have never been eloquent. I am slow of speech and tongue,”||“Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I the LORD? Now go, I will help you and teach you what to say.”|
|“LORD, PLEASE SEND SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT.”||Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you.|
Wow! Doesn’t Moses’ words sound familiar? We may not have uttered these words ourselves outwardly, but inwardly, we indeed have thought about them.
“Bakit ako?” (Why me?), “Sana iba nalang.” (I hope someone else does it.), “Parang hindi ko yata kaya,” (I don’t think I can.)
Is this you? Are we in this situation? Let this be a reminder, that as you get busy highlighting your flaws, the God who created us sees us differently. He knows our flaws, yet he also trusts in our capacity to be instruments of his work on earth.
So here are some tips to help you learn how to think correctly when faced with an impossible task.
1. Think Before You Doubt
It is a natural human reaction to refuse or reject a new idea right away. We tend to think that since we have no past knowledge of a topic, we cannot comment or participate in it. But once we get to understand what we’re up against or what’s in store for us, acceptance becomes more effortless.
This is the very reason that we are always encouraged to seek knowledge above all. Not knowing something is a dangerous thing, and as the saying goes, “is not an excuse.” So, if you are given a task you know nothing about, the first thing you should do is say, “Let me think about it.” It is a safe answer since you did not reject and did not hastily accept right away.
In the office setting, you can try to be open to your superior about your reservations. If you have a great leader, they can encourage you by walking you through the job expectations.
2. Know and Grow
As briefly mentioned, we should make it a habit to upgrade our knowledge for the sake of fulfilling our roles or being a blessing to others. It’s just how the world works and what people need to survive!
First-time parents have never studied parenthood while they were in college. But because the situation requires them at one point, they start reading books, attending classes, or simply creating a system based on their experience.
Despite the truly daunting task, responsible people try to do everything to get at least a piece of additional knowledge regularly to equip them with the task at hand.
In your next meeting, listen and take down notes. Then, make it a habit to report right away. In my experience, I find it helpful to check on my understanding of something based on the quality of the report I submit. Taking my time to draft a statement allows me to review what transpired. And if there are things I don’t understand, I feel compelled to research more.
3. Define who you are.
Let’s face it, most of our life decisions depend on our perception of ourselves. “I’m just not cut out for this,” or “Who am I to do it?” or “But I don’t think I can.” All these comments are reflective of who we think we are. And if we think of ourselves as a low-life, good-for-nothing loser, then that is who we will be.
And to be brutally honest, humans are flawed. So if you think we cannot do things right, you are right! Everything starts with the mind. Some things are just out of our human capacity, and we can’t do anything to influence change.
But what if we find our missing piece from a power source? What if we start surrendering our flaws to someone who knows better? What if we never have to worry about our next career steps because we trust that God is sovereign and His timing is always right?
Just like Moses, we can always ask, “Who am I?” But without God’s voice to answer that, there is a real danger to turn to other people for answers. Answers that they themselves are not sure of.
Clinical depression is one thing. But getting sad for other people’s comments is another.
We have to realize that humans are humans. And just like you, they have their prejudices. And if a human does not know God, he can be a real danger to others in the sense that he can claim finality over an offense that can crush another.
Likewise, if a human does not think correctly, he can be a danger to himself so that he may believe that what other people think of him is absolute.
But if people are confident in his image under God’s, it will take more than hurtful words to crush a spirit. Think of it as being anchored securely on a solid rock vs. swaying and shaking atop loose soil.
So the next time an officemate comments negatively on your performance – especially for something you’ve worked so hard for, it will help you feel secure with WHO YOU ARE as a person. It allows you to become resilient in difficult situations.
There’s no confusion here, and it does not mean to be proud. But if you accept that you are meant to do great things for God, then you will never be wrong.
All I am saying is this, your perception of yourself is critical in doing the complex tasks at hand. Who are you? Who or what do you believe in?
And before you even think about nitpicking all of your flaws, remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God knew you before you knew yourself, and if you read Moses’ story, you would realize that He sees you in His eyes — perfect and capable of carrying out the mission he has set for you.
So the next time you find yourself saying, “I am planning to open a business, but I don’t think I can,” or “I am leading this project, but I don’t think I can,” stop on your tracks and go to step one. Ask yourself, where are all these self-doubt and self-consciousness coming from?
Maybe, it’s about time to think less of the self and more of God. Let’s be God-conscious, and soar successfully with all our tasks.