Sometimes you are not meant to have all your ducks in a row. Being slightly unprepared or underprepared gives God a chance to work in your favor. When Gideon was called to defeat the Midianites (Judges 7), God told him:
“You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. Judges 7:2-3
The Advantage of Being Underprepared
I am not trying to undermine the importance of preparation. As a professional, you have to be prepared for anything that comes your way, whether it’s in the form of giving a presentation, going to an advisory board meeting, having your report ready for your boss, getting ready to give employee evaluations, etc. No matter your station in life, it’s important to be prepared to bring something to the table.
There are times, however, when you feel under-prepared. This is a struggle for many perfectionists, for no amount of preparation is ever adequate enough to meet their expectations. On the day before the big meeting with a client or the boss, you rack your brain for any contingencies you might have forgotten. When your boss calls you to do something you’ve never done before and you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, remember how God used Gideon to deliver his people from the Midianites:
- Fear Factor – God told Gideon he had “too many people” so He wanted to disqualify any fearful men from Gideon’s army. About 22,000 left. (Judges 7:3)
- Water-screening Test – The 10,000 men that remained after the first screening now had to pass the second screening, and God said, “Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go” (Judges 7:4).
- Gideon was ready with an army of men, but God whittled his army down to 300, to be exact – to fight against the Midianites and their people, who were as “thick as locusts” and whose camels “could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore” (Judges 7:12)
The Appearance of Improbability Amplifies God’s Power
If there’s any occasion to feel inadequate, this would be it for Gideon. He already felt small about himself, full of self-doubt and doubt about God’s faithfulness and power. Throughout Judges 6, you can hear the sense of inadequacy and powerlessness coming from Gideon when you listen to the way he speaks about himself and his family. Being a man who already felt small, imagine how he felt when God shrank his army from 32,000 men to only 300! But God’s plan is always perfect, if you allow His ways to unfold before your trusting eyes.
Just Say the Words
Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. 9 During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. 10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” Judges 7:8-9
We humans need words of affirmation. We could be the greatest, most competent person on Earth, but we still need to know that someone else believes in us, even if those words are coming from an enemy. God knows where to send us to hear those words, even in the strangest situation, like hearing your competitor’s feelings of fear about you rather than a friend’s encouragement and faith in you.
Go in the Strength You Have
When the angel of the Lord first approached Gideon under a tree, He commissioned him, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12). “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14)
What is God calling you to today? Has your boss appointed you to tackle an impossible task? Have you been given new responsibilities for which you have little or no experience? Are you called to do something that raises the hair on your arms and causes your heart to jump out of your chest?
You are where you need to be, whether you have one duck or all of them in a row. Do what you can, and God will handle the rest. Don’t panic, fret or worry how you will appear to others, because at the end of the day, you’re not here to impress anyone but God. God has placed you in this position because He, first of all, believes in you, and you have all you need to succeed for God’s glory.
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