“Welcome, Prince,” said Aslan. “Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?”

“I–I don’t think I do, Sir,” said Caspian. “I’m only a kid.”

“Good,” said Aslan. “If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been proof that you were not.”

C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian, 220.

There is a sweet spot where you feel prepared and equipped–the timing is right: you’ve passed your licensure exam, you’ve been hired on, it’s time to go to work; people are trusting that you’ll do a good job–you’ve shown that you are a competent person capable of succeeding. And yet, inside, you’re scared. You feel like an impostor. You wonder how you fooled all these smart people into hiring you–how you ‘lucked out’ and got the easy questions on the exam…

“I’m not ready–I’m only a kid.”

The right thing to do is to humbly pray and do your job with excellence. You are prepared. You are ready. But you’re never going to be sufficient in the sense of knowing everything there is to know, or having all the competencies that will be required.

The wrong thing to do is to wear your insecurities on your sleeve. You can’t demotivate and demoralize the people who are looking to you for guidance. If I go to a surgeon for a complicated procedure, the last thing I want to hear out of his mouth is, “Boy, I sure hope I’m up for this today.” There’s a reason the hallways are covered with beautiful framed diplomas–to reassure the patients (and the staff) that everyone has indeed done their homework, passed their exams, demonstrated their competencies, and we have every reason to hope for a positive outcome.

Hence, the sweet spot: a wise leader knows that they are prepared, but never sufficient. They will continue to grow, ask great questions, surround themselves with wise counsel–and do their job with the boldness that comes from humility–rather than the bullheadedness that comes from arrogance, or the sniveling or shirking that comes from insecurity and false modesty.

Tricky, eh? Indeed. Thankfully we don’t have to do this on our own. We’re never alone.

But [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

2 Corinthians 12:9a