Years ago, as a young and insecure new therapist, I remember feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. I was navigating my role amid various counseling theories and paradigms, and I was helping a host of clients coming from different backgrounds. My supervisor joked with me that she sometimes felt overwhelmed herself and wanted to say to her clients, “You should find a professional.” We laughed together, and then she gave me excellent advice that I have carried with me ever since: “The minute you stop feeling that way, you probably need to retire. You’ll never know it all, and you should never believe that you do.”
Over a decade has elapsed since that time, and by all qualifications I have been a “professional” for many years now. However, I still sometimes find myself feeling inadequate or looking to someone older, wiser, or with more qualifications for validation. Somehow, though, as time passes, I don’t have to look to others nearly as often. Most of the time these days, I have confidence in my role and knowledge level. Even more surprisingly, people are now coming and asking me questions! I have found myself looking both ways and realizing that I AM the professional in the room. When did that happen?
The same phenomenon is happening in my parenting journey. As a young mother, I called my mom to ask advice all the time. I read pregnancy and child development books to learn about each milestone. Now, let’s be clear: I don’t think I’ll ever be a professional Mom. Each age and child presents new challenges to learn and navigate. Still, I am finding that as I look around, I am often the seasoned mother in the room.
Case in point, I was recently shopping at a consignment store and realized that I was probably the oldest mom in the store. I didn’t have a baby in my belly or in my shopping cart. In fact, I was shopping in the teen section!
Listen, I don’t feel like a teen Mom. I feel like I should still be looking through the baby clothes, but somehow life has shifted and so has my role.
The old adage, “fake it ’til you make it,” may not be wrong. Still, if I were to put a different spin on it from my own perspective, it would be: “live into your role, allow yourself to be teachable, and soon you will find that you’ve grown into that role.”
Spiritually, the Lord uses our seasons of feeling inadequate to grow humility and spiritual depth. Throughout Scripture, God rarely calls those who are highly acclaimed and proud. No, He equips the lowly, and over time, as He seasons them, they slowly grow into their purpose.
In our modern day, it is easy to believe that fame and success are at our fingertips. Anyone with a platform, influence, and charisma can turn their gifts into an audience and a profit. It’s true, many can. Yet, the experience, knowledge, and depth of character that develop over time cannot be skipped over on the way to success. We need mentors and supervisors who can speak into us and teach us their craft as we develop our own confidence and voice. Just as my supervisor and my Mom spoke into my life, I hope one day to help others gain the confidence and knowledge they need as they grow into their roles.
So, wherever you find yourself now feeling inadequate, take heart. Being weak and humble is not necessarily a vote against your ability. Find some wise people whom you can learn from and who will encourage you on your journey. Allow the Lord to mold you on His potter’s wheel into the masterpiece He has envisioned. Being molded is uncomfortable but necessary. Then live into your role, and after a time, you will look back and find that you’ve grown into it after all.