Adulting... I Think
I recently began a new job as the assistant manager at a pool. The lifeguard staff at this pool is primarily high school or young college students. So my boss, when we discussed the role once, described my position as being “the adult on duty.” Every time I think about that I laugh, because I surely must’ve bamboozled him and the hiring board into thinking that I’m an adult. I felt under-qualified for a role like this. First and foremost, because I don’t actually feel like an adult… nor do I feel responsible enough to be the one answering hard questions or making new rules or taking the heat with upset members. And on top of that, I’ve never managed people, I’ve never made hiring decisions, and I’ve definitely never worked much with pool chemicals, boilers, or filters.
So, technically, I really wasn’t “qualified” for this role. As the weeks have gone by though—and as I’ve wiggled my way more deeply into this role that felt so foreign—I’ve realized that each time I walk more confidently in the role I’ve been given, it begins to feel easier and more comfortable. Part of the confidence, is the idea of “fake it ‘til you make it.” Part of it is that, when given the safety of a (seemingly more important) title, it makes it easier to be bold. But I think, mostly, that as I’ve clumsily stumbled into the position and learned more intimately the rules and expectations, I feel more in tune with—and therefore confident in—how I carry out the role.
It likely would’ve made more sense for the pool to hire someone else (though I’m thankful they didn’t!). In the world we live in, people are placed into roles based on qualifications. In our society it is strange to see people chosen if they are too unqualified. It would be strange for Google to hire a high school drop-out as a manager or for Amazon to hire someone with an associate degree in finance and no financial experience as their CFO. That simply is not how things are done; we expect particular skills or education levels of people in certain roles.
And yet, the Kingdom of God doesn’t operate that way. His Kingdom is “upside down.” Over and over again, God has used, and continues to use, unexpected people to do unexpected things. In Acts 4, Peter and John are speaking about the power of Jesus before the council in Jerusalem. This council was filled with “rulers and elders and scribes” (v5), meaning it was filled with a bunch of smart, educated, proper, elite-ish, religious people. Peter and John were fishermen. The council knew that they should have had a certain education level (i.e. likely little to no formal education) and should’ve spoken in a particular manner because of this. And yet, Acts 4:13 says, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
Jesus choosing people who are wildly underqualified is strange. Choosing fishermen to speak to educated, religious-elite councils seems, in fact, a bit foolish. It would be like asking me to go speak with the United Nations; I likely wouldn’t even be able to hold a conversation, let alone know any of the procedures they have for speaking, sharing, taking turns, etc. Funnily enough though, that is precisely why the Lord chose Peter and John. Before Peter speaks in Acts 4, he is “filled with the Holy Spirit” (v8). So, although the council is (seemingly) expecting some sort of meek or improper proceeding, they instead find him addressing them with eloquence and boldness. It is for this very reason that the council must assume that the men have been changed by something—that they have “been with Jesus.”
We don’t know how Peter was feeling prior to speaking. Personally, I would’ve been terrified and confused. It’s incredibly difficult, in a world that tells us we are only qualified if our resume says so, to feel confident in a role that we feel called to but not “adequate enough” for. Yet, he leans into and trusts that God knows what’s going on and has covered the situation.
One of my dear friends Alicia told me several months ago, “You are fully qualified for all that is yours.” Although I understood what she meant, it took me several days to comprehend because it was uncomfortable and scary. As it sunk in though, I had a peace in understanding that God will never use me beyond His capacity for me… even though it often feels beyond my own capacity for me. And that is the point. God has given us—the greatest of failures—the precious task of sharing His good news. We are severely unprepared and unqualified to share the only News that can save souls. Fortunately, it is those same shortcomings that will show people we have absolutely nothing to do with the saving.
Please Note: I wonder—and doubt—that most people ever begin to actually feel like they are responsible enough to be an adult. C.S. Lewis once said, “it is the stupidest children who are most childish and the stupidest grown-ups who are most grown-up.”
I think I like that quote.