Isaiah and Incompetence

This is my own A-to-Z Challenge for the month of June — likes and dislikes. I’ve fallen behind but haven’t given up! If you want to join me, just add a comment naming something you like and something you don’t like that begin with the letter I.


My favorite book in the Old Testament is Isaiah.

It was maybe 10 years ago when I started memorizing chapters from Isaiah. Whole chapters. I started with Isaiah 43, then did chapter 6, then 50, 51, 52… all the way up to 63. A few years ago, my memory cache was full — over-full, in fact, because when I look back at those last chapters that I “memorized”, I remember very little of them.

I can, however, say this with some level of confidence. Memorizing chapters straight through — and thereby memorizing verses that didn’t initially “speak” to me — was a life-changing experience. My view on many issues did an about-face. I can’t point to a single verse that led me there — I only know I got there, and I credit Isaiah’s words with speaking deeply to my soul — Love people. Love them where they are.

Part of my memorization process was writing the chapters out over and over, and sometimes I would write them in my own words. I published a post in 2015 of a paraphrase of Isaiah 56. Looking back at it, I see how Isaiah was shaping me.


Initially, I was going to use incompetence for my “I” dislike. Let’s just say I am frustrated at work.

“Are you sure you want to write about that?” one of my daughters asked. “It might be kind of pointed.”

Ahh — she was right. I would be venting — via blog — about mistakes someone else made and that doesn’t profit anything.

The Peter Principle is that people are promoted to the level of their incompetence. The Dilbert Principle is that incompetent people are promoted to get them out of the workflow. Either way, the result is incompetent people at high levels in organizations.

One day, as I was grumbling in my heart about incompetent people in management positions, I caught a glimpse of someone’s insecurity — and I can honestly say that my grumbling heart was flooded with compassion. It washed away my resentments.

How awful it must feel to realize that you are in over your head!

How terrible to look back at a job you were really good at — and that you aren’t doing any more — with longing while you’re stuck in an office trying to do a job that requires skills you don’t have!

And here’s the real rub — everyone resents you. Everyone complains about you. You’re alone in your little office struggling, and you can’t admit that you can’t do the job because that would be failure. That would be a losing face, losing respect from other people. You used to receive accolades for a job well-done. Now it’s the opposite.

Insecurity raises its ugly head — and you begin to lash out.

I don’t like incompetence, but I think I dislike even more the insecurity that comes out of it.


Scottish Gaelic:
Is toil leam Isaiah. I like Isaiah.
Cha toil leam mì-thèarainteachd agus an dòigh anns a bheil e a’ toirt air daoine a dhol an sàs. I don’t like insecurity and the way it makes people act.


How about you? What’s something you like that begins with I? What’s something you don’t like?

7 Comments on “Isaiah and Incompetence

  1. The other sad thing about the incompetent people is that no one wants to help them and they don’t want any help. It pretty much seals the bad deal.

    • So so true. They don’t want help — and they’re always quick to point an accusing finger at someone else which just further distances them from the help they desperately need. It’s a terrible cycle.

  2. Both incompetence and insecurity are so painful to witness and to experience. Compassion is a good reminder.
    My like for I: Instinct — so fascinating.
    Dislikes: IVs. Inflation. Invasion.

  3. My like for I: Igloos. I think they’re beautiful and I’ve always wanted to make one.
    My dislike for I: Irritability. We’ve been going through a heat wave, and I’ve been irritable from the heat. Thankfully it’s cooler today.

  4. Incompetence is a pet peeve.

    I can think of someone I know of, but not through work. In management, but utterly incompetent and a moron. He’s cost his company several contracts. By summer’s end he’ll almost certainly be out of a job.

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