Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” Exodus 4:1 (NIV)
Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” Exodus 4:10 (NIV)
I have learned that I am well acquainted with my list of “I am nots”. If you don’t know what these are, they are the statements that typically follow an action of comparison. For me, some of these statements sound like the following:
“I am not as relatable as ….”
“I am not as charismatic and attractive as …”
“I am not as oratorical and quick witted as ….”
I have also discovered that as I frame my mind around my deficiencies and deficits, I engage in the act of ensuring that these perceived shortcomings are not discovered. I do all that I can to ensure that my “I am nots” are not visible. I call this the act of managing my deficit. It is an exhausting undertaking that is characterized by defensiveness, self-loathing, relentless frustration, and defeat. I convince myself that my only value revolves around the actions that I take to approach, as closely as possible, these externally imposed standards.
The great prophet Moses fell into a similar trap. He framed comparisons in his mind and answered God in the respective passages above that “I am not as credible as….” and “I am not as well-spoken as…” The problem with managing the deficit is that it leaves no room for identifying the surplus. We all have positive qualities, in abundance, that God has blessed us with for His use. As I focus on my “I am nots”, I am blinded to the existence of my “I ams”. These latter statements are simple descriptions that are not comparative.
“I am disciplined.”
“I am loyal.”
“I am hard working.”
For Moses, his “I ams” included being resolute, obedient and devoted (Deuteronomy 34:10). God will use the things that I am in spite of the things that I am not to accomplish His will for my life.
What is your list of “I ams”? Are you also managing your deficit and ignoring your surplus? Let others help you identify those qualities that God has blessed you with in abundance. See how He is able to use them for His glory!