8/27/2010 02:38:00 PM

Competent in Christ

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't starting to feel stressed about the start of my pre-doc internship. I have been a student for +10 years and now I find myself for the first time in full-time work as a professional... sure, I am an intern but to my veteran clients who will be coming to me with schizophrenia, with depression and anxiety, with post-traumatic stress, with alcohol and drug problems, they're not going to know me as Grace the grad student but 'Dr.' Yan, their psychotherapist who is going to help them with their complicated, messy, sobering problems.

I definitely feel my knees buckling under the fear that I'll be found incompetent, lacking, disappointing my supervisors, disparaged by my peers for my lack of professional knowledge.

So, it has been a great comfort to me to read and re-read this, written by Paul to the Corinthians:

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

I'm no theologian, so I won't attempt to go into the other things this passage addresses, but I will say that I take great comfort in this verse, because while I have always pictured Paul being this macho man of spiritual steel, in this verse I can almost hear the vulnerability in his heart, that he too sometimes buckled under this longing for approval, this fear of incompetency. It's one of the first times where I felt I could connect to Paul as a person, rather than a great, remarkable figure out of my reach. His assurance and reminder of what we should worship and what is the true measure of success really hits home.

I will be reciting these verses when I go in for hospital orientation Monday morning.


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