“Just as there is no way we can serve both God and money, so there is no way we can (openly or secretly) believe in our personal omnicompetence and at the same time believe in Jesus as the Savior of sinners.”(1)
When you ask people about pride, few consider it a bad thing any more. School pride, national pride, (insert social cause here) pride … pride has been moved off the moral no-no list in modern American Newspeak. That makes it very hard to locate. But, locate it we must. Just because we’ve become more cozy with the sin of pride doesn’t make it any less that — sin. And I think I may have found where this particular devil has been hiding out: Omnicompetence.
Omnicompetence is not a word, but if it were it would describe our (my) deep, personal conviction that I can do pretty much anything, and that I need very little help. “I’ve got this,” is its confession. “I can handle it,” is its mantra. And, “I’ll be alright,” is its rather unformed eschatology.
I can see omnicompetence when I skip reading the Scriptures because I’m busy.
I can hear omnicompetence when I lie to a friend who asks how I’m really doing.
I can feel omnicompetence when I’m short-tempered with others and difficult to get on with.
Omnicompetence is the new pride. It’s the way we modern people have made a virtue of personal utility and a vice out of humble needfulness. It’s the rebranding of the one sin that lies at the root of all the others, and makes the heart so hard that it refuses to ask for help. In fact, if you’re a devout believer in your omnicompetence, Jesus came to empower you, perhaps, but not to save you. I mean, you’ve got this, right?
Omnicompetence is the ultimate expression of practical atheism. But, take a minute to examine it up close. If you look deeply into the shiny surface of this idea, you’ll begin to see the fissures. Those small, nagging ways we fail, falter, and miss the mark. Omnicompetence has a real problem with recognizing sin, and the humble vulnerability that such a recognition produces. But, like paint over rotting wood, omnicompetence can’t hide our true nature for very long. No set of skills, no matter how great, can ever overcome our deep need for help.
Lord, help me part ways with the belief in my omnicompetence — my pride. Hold my neediness before my eyes long enough to cause me to voice my need for the Savior.
(1) Alec Motyer, Isaiah by the Day, 93.2