Unconscious Competence- What Happens When We Grow In Grace?
By Brad Hewey
What does it mean to be unconsciously competent? Brad shares that as “we grow in grace, there are elements of our outpouring toward God, that should flow from us, as fluidly as unconscious thought.”
Brad offers up practical, scriptural advice from a perspective borne out of everyday life encounters. As we live and move and have our being…it’s the individual life lessons that most often present the greatest challenges, but can yield the richest blessings. We’ve all, as Christians had those faith affirming moments, where we’ve had an overwhelming sense of God’s spirit, or his very presence “at a particular but, maybe random time”.
As We Grow In Grace
Our God desires that we worship him, and love him with all our heart, soul, and mind. When we effectively seek to commune with God, it involves us having a real relationship with him that centers on being actively engaged, with our heart, soul and mind.
“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land.”
The Psalmist says: “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”
But as we grow in grace, there are elements of our outpouring toward God, that should flow from us, as fluidly as unconscious thought. As a good example, we shouldn’t have to think about bestowing on others the “fruit of the spirit” … as Christians in tune with our Heavenly Father, we should without conscious thought, embody those aspects of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.
Years ago, I attended a motivational training session where participants were presented the concepts pertaining to progressive personal growth. Basically, it filtered down to a comparison between “not being aware of a skill that you lack,” to being so skilled, that you “no longer even have to think the task at hand.”
It began with what was termed unconscious incompetence. That’s not a very flattering term. Most of us like to think we’re “in the know” at least generally, about most things. We certainly have opinions on almost everything, don’t’ we? Here in the Maritimes, especially in the area I’m from, we have a large Acadian population. Many of you, perhaps have not heard of the amazing Acadian dish known locally as “Rappure Acadian”, OR “rappie pie”. It’s a simple but delicious recipe baked hot in the oven, consisting of grated potato, chicken, onion, salt and pepper. Now if you’ve not been aware this delicious food has existed for centuries, you would be incompetent, if I were to ask you to make some “rappie pie” for me, on the spot.
That is called “unconscious incompetence.” You don’t know… that you don’t know! But upon being enlightened, if you searched out a recipe book, and purchased the right ingredients, you could set to the task of making your first “rappie pie”. That said, your initial attempt might prove to be a bit challenging, and your dish might fall drastically short in terms of taste and presentation. Without more practice and focus, you are lacking the competent skills to effectively prepare this popular Acadian dish. You are now, “consciously incompetent.” Aware, that you do not have sufficient skills for the task at hand.
So, purchase more ingredients, fire up that oven, and apply the old “practice makes perfect” moto. With close attention paid to the ingredients and cooking method called out in the recipe, you’ll soon be able to prepare a scrumptious Acadian Rappure that all will devour. You will advance to the stage known as “conscious competence” …. you are competent, and you are aware that you are competent. You do however, still need your thoughts to be focused each time, as you start to work up the various ingredients. You do need, that recipe close by.
Now here in the Maritimes, many ladies can prepare an amazing “rappie pie”, and I know for sure, that many of them have done it so often, they can do it in that mode of “unconscious competence”. They can do it without a recipe, they can do it while performing other tasks, they can do it without fail, they can do it without thought.
Unconscious Incompetence And Unconscious Competence
So, I flash back to that seminar years ago, thinking of how the aspects of “unconscious incompetence”, and “unconscious competence”, can have particular relevance in our Christian lives.
Now, before I say anything else about us being competent, or incompetent, I acknowledge clearly, that as James states, “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights”. The Bible says: “Apart from God, we can do nothing.” The very gift of salvation itself, is from God.
So, as we think of those around the world, who could be deemed as “unconsciously incompetent” unaware, in regards to their knowledge of God, we turn to God’s word on the matter. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world, are clearly seen being understood by things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
What Happens When We Grow In Grace?
Another wonderful verse says: “for the Lord is not slack concerning his promise… but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
God leaves no one in the dark. God is light, and his light is the light of life.
As I stated at the beginning; as we grow in grace, elements of our outpouring toward God should flow from us, as fluidly as unconscious thought. Just as ladies can prepare delicious dishes without thinking, just as a farmer can tend to many chores without conscious awareness, or a musician can run the strings of his instrument with his mind aloft, we too, as Christians, can tap into the unconscious ability we have, or should have, as a result of many a moment spent in the presence of the almighty.
In no way, is it ever to be suggested, that we pull back in our concerted effort to commune with God, consciously, directly, prayerfully, and willfully. Paul in Colossians exhorts us: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
So, let us all today, as being rooted and built up, display the genuine graces, as one’s established in the faith, that we might emit beauty, meekness and love; that a sweet smelling savor might be lifted up to God; from our very core, an outpouring from our unconscious self. As we give our time, our energy, our love to Christ, it should cultivate in us, that unconscious competence, that would, like an oft prepared recipe, bless those around us.
Brad was born and still resides in a small community in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, where he and his wife Karen raised their 3 children. Brad & Karen fellowship at the Greenland Bible Chapel, where Brad serves as an elder.
Brad loves meeting and engaging with people. His background in sales has provided opportunities to travel throughout the US and Canada, networking with people from all walks of life. Brad is a singer/songwriter, and has recorded 3 Christian albums. Songs from his “Brighter Day” release, have aired on Christian Radio stations across Canada and two of Brad’s albums are on HopeStreamRadio’s playlist.
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