Overcoming an Inferiority Complex


Overcoming an Inferiority Complex

Moses was perplexed with an inferiority complex. Is that hard for you to believe? Yes, he who defied Pharaoh, King of Egypt, who stood in the presence of God, who led two million slaves out of Egypt, who is recognized as one of the world’s greatest began his life’s work with an inferiority complex.

One day Moses, who at this time was eighty years old, was sitting on a lonely hillside near Mount Sinai when he beheld an unusual sight. The bush in front of him was burning but it was not being consumed. He had the scientific frame of mind and he drew near to examine this peculiar phenomenon. As he did the voice of God spoke out of the bush, “Moses, Moses.” And he answered, “Here am I.” God knows His children by name and He very often speaks to them by name. Perhaps many of you have heard Him speak your name. I trust like Moses you said, “Here am I.” God continued speaking: “Draw not nigh hither for the ground where thou stands is holy ground. I have seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I am come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou may bring forth my people, the children of Israel out of Egypt.” Does it seem strange to you that God who said, “I will deliver my people,” immediately said to Moses, “I will send you that thou may bring forth my people?” don’t think it strange. This is the way in which God most often works. Whom God has some great task to perform, when His people are to be delivered from bondage He works His wonders through a human instrumentality who is willing to do His will.

Moses said unto God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Here is a picture of a man with a feeling of great inferiority. The immensity of the proposed task overwhelmed him. He had not confidence in his own native abilities. There is such a thing as being over confidant, of “thinking more highly of oneself than he ought to think.” Such a one is very often a braggart, he is always right and never wrong, and he has little respect for the feelings of others and is often a bore to be with. Some go far to the other extreme and lack all sense of self-confidence, he does not think as highly of himself as he ought to think. Such a one has a Caspar Milquetoast personality, he walks with his eyes upon the ground, he is afraid to express an opinion and when he does it is done apologetically and hesitatingly, he feels everyone else to be better than he and more capable. A feeling of inferiority is a terrible affliction. I know from experience. I have known the time when I have walked around the block to keep from walking down the street with another, I have driven around the block many times to gain courage to enter a strange home and talk with strange people, and to hear my voice in public assembly would almost scare me to death.

Humility is a fine and noble characteristic but false humility is a deadening vice. It can lead to frustration and defeat. Such a one needs to hear the voice of God speaking as did Moses: “Certainly I will be with thee.”

“And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou has spoken to thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” This certainly is a further characteristic of a feeling of inferiority: “I just can’t speak, every time I do my tongue becomes wrapped up in my teeth and the words just won’t come and I stammer and stutter.” And surely, I sympathize with this. How well I remember the first sermon I ever preached. It was in Miller Chapel, my first year in Princeton Seminary, twice each year during our seminary course we had to preach to the members of our class and faculty. I had spent fifty hours at least preparing my sermon. I had read every sermon on the assigned text that I could find, I had read every commentary available, I outlined the text a dozen different ways and wrote and wrote the sermon fifty times. Then I spent more hours studying the finished manuscript. I must confess, it was a very acceptable sermon. Finally the afternoon came when I was to preach. I haltingly ascended the pulpit. As I stood there facing my professors and classmates my knees began to knock, not figuratively but literally. Then my body began to tremble and to keep those in front of me from witnessing, I grabbed hold of the lectern with all my might. I never could stop my knees from knocking but I did manage to hold my body ridged. Then I began to preach. I got through the introduction, and went from there to the third point and back to the first and sat down without ever touching the second point and the conclusion. It was a frightful experience, I still shudder whenever I think of it. Such a one needs to hear the word of the Lord, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the dumb or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord?” now therefore go, and I will be thy mouth and teach thee what thou shall say.”

And again Moses said unto the Lord, “O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him who thou will send.” At first reading it is not plain what Moses had in mind. But after reading the rest of the story it is plain to see what he had in mind. He is trying to pass the buck. It is as he said, “Send any hand but mine; thou can surely find one much more fit.” This is another characteristic of one possessed by a feeling of inferiority. It is a desire to shirk responsibility feeling that there are others much better qualified. We say if only I had a better personality, a silver tongue, a sharper mind, but when God was giving out abilities, He just left me out. Again I sympathize with this attitude. Comparatively early in life I sat upon the hillside and heard the voice of God calling my name. When I responded I was told that I was wanted for the gospel ministry. I examined my abilities and was impressed by my lack of ability and thus answered, “Not me Lord. Use someone else, I am not capable.” For five years I persisted until at last the Lord broke my stubborn will. Such a one needs to hear God say, “I have chosen you.”

What effected this change? What transformed Moses from an introvert to an extrovert? God said unto Moses, “What is that in thine hand?” Do not miss the significance of this question. It was “What is in your hand? Not what is in Arron’s hand? But what do you have to give me?” and Moses answered, “A rod.” God said, “Cast it on the ground.” It became “a serpent and Moses fled from it.” God said, “Put forth thy hand and take it by the tail.” Moses did so and it became a rod in his hand. Let us not miss the meaning of this episode by asking a lot of silly questions. This is not snake handling, it is not black magic. God was teaching Moses a wonderful lesson. “Moses, give me what you have to offer and see what marvelous things I can do with it. Moses, be yourself and give yourself to me.”

Moses finally committed himself to God. He gave God what was in his hand and what was in his life. God rewarded this faith and trust and transformed Moses. After the deliverance from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea, Moses sang a hymn of praise unto God. Listen to this refrain: “The Lord is my strength.” This is the testimony that Paul offered: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me … I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” It is the testimony of the Psalmist: “The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” the one who has committed himself to God, receives the strength and ability to do the task which God has assigned him.

Moses not only dedicated himself to God, he also fell in love with his fellow men. Until now his chief interest in life had been himself. As a new born babe he had been taken into the palace of Pharaoh, the son of the daughter of the king, the heir apparent to the throne. As such he was pampered, he was waited upon, he was given his own way, and he was coddled and petted. Then after forty years he fled to the desert of Sinai where for forty years he tended sheep. This was a necessary work and a good work. But it gave him much time to be alone, time to think about himself, time introspection. He thought mostly about himself and had little opportunity to develop confidence in his abilities. Then when he returned to Egypt and beheld the sad plight of his fellow Hebrews his heart went out to them. Then he became a man with a mission. He was tending and caring for human sheep and lambs. He was to be their shepherd. From henceforth his chief concern was not self but others, next to his concern for God.

Dr. Peter Marshall told this story. In a certain little village there lived a family, a father and mother and two children, a boy and a girl. The son became very ill, and the little girl heard the doctor say to her mother, “only a miracle will save him.” So she went upstairs and emptied her piggy bank into her hand and made her way to the corner grocery store and said to the clerk, “I want to buy a miracle.” And he said, “We have no miracles for sale today, why not go to the drug store.”

So she went down there, she stood a while before the counter until the kindly druggist saw her and said to her, “Little girl, what do you want?” and she said, “I want to buy a miracle.” And he asked, “Why do you wish that?” and she replied, “The doctor told us that nothing could save the life of my little brother except a miracle, and so I’ve come down to buy one.”

Neither one of them saw the stranger standing at the counter, but he had overheard the conversation. As the little girl left, he fell into step with her and said, “May I go home with you?” she answered, “Of course.” So they made their way up the hill to the little house. As they approached the house the family physician recognized the child’s companion. He met them at the door and asked why, “Why, doctor, where did you come from?” he answered, “Oh, I was down at the drug store, and I saw this little girl trying to buy a miracle, and she told me about her brother, so I thought I would come along and see if I could help.” The family physician said, “You are the only man that I know of in all the world who could do anything about this situation.” So together they went into the house. And by skillful medication and operation the famous doctor managed to save the little lad’s life.

Then the little girl went back upstairs. Again she emptied her piggy bank of all the pennies and nickels and she came down and handed them to the doctor. He asked, “What is this for?” She answered, “It is to pay for the miracle.” “My darling,” he exclaimed, “you can’t buy a miracle with pennies and nickels, but only with faith and love.”

The transformation of human character is a miracle, a miracle of God’s grace. It is accomplished in the lives of whomever places their trust in God and gives expression to that faith by a life of love and service.

Dr. Robert W Kirkpatrick

First Presbyterian Church, Hinton W VA. June 16, 1954

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Davidhbibinu
    Sep 09, 2018 @ 20:06:20

    Sir I need your prayers for God to make me a new person



    • tnk1250
      Sep 10, 2018 @ 09:46:12

      Our Prayers are with you and have faith in HIs Promises. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)



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