Failing Followers: questioning the qualifications {Blogging through the Bible} | The Speckled Goat: Failing Followers: questioning the qualifications {Blogging through the Bible}


Failing Followers: questioning the qualifications {Blogging through the Bible}

devotion book of mark mark 9 the man driving out demons competition vs. kinship and teamwork for the kingdom of God christian devotion about insecurity

For the past few months, I've been hooked on babywearing.

What started as a practical way to snuggle my boy while also getting things done has become something of an obsession. According to my husband, I watch approximately 100 hours of wrapping videos a week. He knows all the terms, too-- cross passes, slack, top rail, tapers, transfers... and he's never even wrapped himself! Sooo maybe I talk about it too much. Haha. I'm hooked! What can I say.

To be honest, I think it's kept me from getting a little stir crazy- learning new ways to tie my wrap and perfecting the carries that I know already has satisfied my need to be intellectually stimulated, and I've found a community of like-minded geeks online. I like it. I like it a lot. I wear my little fellow almost every day, usually in several different carries a day.

And so, when someone asked me if I'd like doing a beginning baby wrapping class at the nearest Guiding Star, I was excited. I really enjoy sharing my passions (ahem, obsessions) with other people. And my husband would probably appreciate it if I talked to someone, anyone, else about figuring out a double hammock tied saltwater.

But as I thought more about it, the insecurities started popping up.

I mean, I've been wrapping for less than a year. I only just started getting back carries figured out. I've only ever wrapped one child (as opposed to folks who "tandem wear"-- or wear two children at one time). Who am I to teach other people??

I don't have any sort of certification or degree. I'm not really all that qualified, honestly.

And as I started doing some planning for this workshop I'm supposed to teach, I learned that other people also involved with Guiding Star were just as (if not more) experienced in wrapping as I am.


If that doesn't just make me feel even more insecure. Now I'm not dealing only with my own inadequacies, but holding myself in comparison to other people and their capabilities!

"'Teacher,' said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.'
'Do not stop him,' Jesus said. 'No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.'" -Mark 9:38-40

The first thing that strikes me about this passage is the unnamed man driving out demons.

I wish we knew more about him. When did he hear about Jesus? How long before he believed did he start performing miracles? Was he one of many unnamed and unmentioned people who were following Jesus and driving out demons, healing people? Or was he one solitary guy, just following God's calling under the power of Christ? What did he think after John and the others told him to stop? Did he actually stop, or did he brush them off and keep on healing?

Someday, in heaven, I think we'll be able to ask him all that. But for now, we just don't know much about him.

We do know, however, that he was totally and utterly "unqualified" to drive out demons, according to the disciples.

He wasn't one of them. He wasn't in the 'in crowd.' The Twelve may have thought of him as competition.

I think that's a common theme for us humans-- we see someone doing something that we also do and we find ourselves competing. Instead of feeling kinship, we go straight to comparison.

And in this case, measuring with the eyes of the world, this guy was totally unqualified. He didn't measure up at all. He wasn't one of the inner circle, so the disciples shut him down. They were failing followers because they made this man measure up to their made-up qualifications. And he failed their self-made test.

Jesus's response?

External Credentials vs. Internal Commitment

The man might not have had all the credentials of the Twelve.

(Which, okay, let's think about that-- none of them were 'professional followers' either! They started out as fishermen and tax collectors! Who were they to judge, anyway, after only three years of following Jesus?)

The man didn't eat all his meals beside Jesus, he didn't spend every moment with him, wasn't specifically called into fellowship by Jesus himself.

But that didn't matter.

His belief; his internal commitment to Christ; qualified him completely. His faith allowed him to drive out demons. He loved Jesus enough to be given the gift of performing miracles, and Jesus made it clear that just because he wasn't technically one of the Twelve didn't at all mean that he wasn't just as qualified as they.

Competition vs. Kinship

John made it pretty clear what he thought about the man-- he wasn't "one of them."

Somehow, the disciples, who were men rejected and looked down upon by the Pharisees and other religious groups, had themselves become something of the religious elect in their own minds. They were set apart, they believed, from the rest of the followers of Jesus. Better than.

And that made for division in their minds.

Born of that division was comparison. Since the man in this passage wasn't one of the Twelve, then obviously he wasn't good enough, wasn't special enough, wasn't holy enough to be performing miracles. They thought they were better than him.

I think it's so interesting that the man here wasn't intimidated to the point that he didn't live out the gift of calling out demons. He wasn't insecure about his status. He just went and what God enabled him to do.

Jesus corrects the disciples here, too. If they're not against us, then they're for us. It's not us vs. them when it comes to followers of Christ. There isn't supposed to be any competition. We're all on the same team.

We've all been given different gifts, different passions, different callings.

Not one of us is qualified in his or her own right. 

When we question our own qualifications, or the credentials of another brother or sister in Christ, we are failing followers.

I think this is one of Satan's favorite tactics in my life. Instead of living out my God-given path, I find myself crippled with insecurity and do nothing instead.
Mentoring a younger Christian? Well, there are lots of women older and wiser than I who would make better mentors. 
Starting a Bible Study group during the week? What do I know about the Bible, and I'm new to this church, so it's not really my place... right?

And then there's the flip side, too-- I find myself judging people who are actually living out their callings and force them to measure up to my standards.

She's only been dealing with infertility for a year. Who is she to start a ministry for women struggling with infertility? 
He has no background in education and has never worked with kids... why does he think he can be a good soccer coach? 

Crazy, right?

What about you?

Do you find your fears or insecurities making it hard to live out what God wants you to do? Do you question your own adequacy when confronted with a new challenge? And do you compare yourself to other people and allow opportunities to pass you by because someone else might be more qualified?

Or do you question the credentials of people doing big things for God? Do you judge the external qualifications over their internal, heart-deep commitments?

I'm kind of tired with it, frankly. 

I want to be like the unnamed man-- I want to do what God wants me to do without questioning my own worth or adequacy. I want to overcome any insecurities and make a difference right where I am, just as I am.

And I also want to avoid being a failing follower- I don't want to fall into the trap the disciples did and adopt an attitude that is divisive instead of unifying. I don't want to have standards that are higher, stricter, more stringent, less merciful than the ones Jesus has set.

So I'm asking that God would take my fumbling and my failure and help me to follow better. That I would be someone who sees the benefit of many gifted people all being on the same team with me, instead of finding myself comparing my gifts with theirs. That I would not let my insecurities get in the way of my calling, and that I would be an encourager who rejoices with the ministries of others rather than a person who questions the qualifications of others. I want to do my best, even if it's not "the best," and I want to celebrate the best in others.

...   ...   ...
This post is part of the Blogging through the Bible link up!

Members of my Blogging through the Bible group have each chosen a book of the Bible to study and write about! This is a fun opportunity to get to know more Christian bloggers, and to dig deeper with them into God's Word!

Please stop by some of these blogs to read what they have to share today!

(If you're interested in joining in on the link up, I encourage you to join the Facebook Group!)

failing followers devotion messy discipleship gospel of mark  gospel of mark pressure popularity and human approval devotion  god cares and is powerful mark gospel devotion 
jesus is the solution to the hurt of the world mark gospel devotion feeding the five thousand  focusing on the wrong things leads us to miss the miracle mark gospel devotion  rejecting hard truths authority of scripture 

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  1. This is so good! I struggle with feeling inadequate to do things God calls me to do and subsequently struggle with feeling competitive often. Thanks for being one of God's reminders to me to step out where He's leading and that I don't have to compete with people of similar gifts to what He's given me. Love your vulnerability in writing as well :)

  2. This was great. I have found there will always be someone who can do it better, is more qualified, etc. however we need to learn to step out so when God does call us we are ready in obedience. Thank you for linking up with Grace and Truth. I loved reading your post.

  3. Oh, those pesky insecurities...they sure have a way of popping up uninvited (and often times, unannounced). I'm with you! I'm tired of the comparison trap! I'm tired of questioning my own adequacy and worth, based upon that of others!
    This was an excellent post! So glad you linked up at #destinationInspiration. This certainly was a dose of inspiration for me today! ;)