I’ve been doing a lot of research for my new book (which all I can say at this point is about men). And as I have been doing research I came across this phrase that has really stuck with me:

“they live within the boundaries of their competence.”
The Silence of Adam by Larry Crabb, pp. 54

All of us have a sphere of which we operate in because we have confidence in our skills and tools in that endeavor. But to step out of that sphere can be a risk, creating all kinds of fear and anxiety.

We ask ourselves:

What if I fail?

Will they be disappointed in me?

Will I feel stupid?

Et cetera

So in order to not experience failure or become uncomfortable, we avoid many areas of life that we are not as competent in, but are nonetheless, as important for us and others.

In this book on men, Crabb says this:

“Men often report feeling most like men when they can say ‘I may not know what to do about THIS, but I know what to do about THAT. I know I can do it, I’m doing it, and it’s working.’ These men may be successful businessmen but distant fathers. Because they live within the boundaries of their competence, they are usually not aware of any struggle with their sense of manhood. They face only those problems that they are pretty sure they can handle…..Men who, for their sense of well-being, depend on facing tasks they can handle are not usually effective in their close relationships…..Competent men neither listen well nor share openly.”

The danger for anyone, but particularly men in this case, is that in order to avoid feeling like a failure in our marriages, friendships, and other vital relationships — such as with God — we stay within the boundaries that we are most comfortable. This may be work, it may be a hobby, and it just might be watching and commenting on sports.

My thought for you is this:

If there is an area of your life that you feel least competent in, that may be the area that you most need to attend to.

How is your marriage?

How is your relationship with your kids?

What’s your relationship like with God?