I’ve loved school for as long as I can remember. When I was in second grade, I played the principal in the school play. A year later, I turned my family’s living room into a quasi-classroom, complete with a bookshelf, standalone bulletin board, and dry erase easel. I got straight A’s through junior high, and I graduated from high school with a 4.2 GPA.
School was fun and easy and stress-free. …Until it wasn’t.
I got a B in my philosophy class the first semester of my freshman year in college. If you would have told high school me that I would get a B during my first year of college, I would have been horrified. I was horrified when it happened.
As bad as it seemed at the time though, I learned a lot from that experience. I learned that I had made an idol out of my academic success. I saw that I had been investing more into my gifts than into the One who had given them to me. I learned that I felt inadequate because I had based my worth far too much on what I could do and far too little on what Christ has done.
Read below for some encouragement about dealing with your own feelings of inadequacy should they arise.
YOUR VOCATION IS NOT THE END-ALL
Your vocation – whether that be student or wife or teacher or doctor or homemaker, a combination of a few of those, or something else entirely – is not the end-all. Vocations are means to an end. In question and answer 1 of The Westminster Shorter Catechism it says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” In part, we accomplish that through our vocations.
I didn’t always understand that. For far too long, I saw my academic aptitude as the means I needed to achieve scholastic success. I was so caught up in numbers in a grade book and letters on a report card that I overlooked the crux of the whole thing.
Was I living out my vocation as a student for the glory of God?
For a long season of my life, the answer was no. I was more concerned with my reputation and my pride than I was with the glory of my Creator. I had forgotten that vocations are means and that success is indeed, despite what the world may tell us, not our chief end.
Matthew 6:31-33 says, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” When you feel worried, overwhelmed, or inadequate, remind yourself of these beautiful words of our Savior. Our call as Christians is not to unfailing worldly success. It is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. It is to live lives worthy of the calling we have received (Ephesians 4:1). It is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (The Westminster Shorter Catechism).
Nor our callings, worth, or adequacy are anchored in this world. They are hidden with Christ on high. May we remember and believe this, and start living like it’s true.
Now, none of this is to say that we can neglect our vocations. While they are not the end-all, remember that they are a means of glorifying God, which is our great end-all. We are not to shut our eyes to worldly tasks and pretend nothing on this earth matters. Rather, we are called to be in the world, but not of it (John 17:15-16). For me, in this season, this looks like studying diligently and writing well and testing better, but remembering through all of that, that true fulfillment is found in Christ alone (John 4:13-14).
This is my prayer today: Oh Christ, be magnified in the work I do. Oh my soul, find rest in the work He’s done.