A Skill Problem / A Will Problem

The primary reason this blog has been so quiet recently is because I have been spending a lot of time in a major work transition, shifting from employed to self-employed, from employee to employer.

Yesterday, I was in a seminar by Ally McKenzie, H.R. Advisor with Business Gateway Fife.  She had this great little statement, for working with employees, that is also applicable to our Christian life.  I asked Ally if I could quote her.  She said yes — but also said she stole it from someone and didn’t remember who. 🙂 Sometimes, Google is NOT your friend, I can’t find it anywhere, so we’ll credit Ally anyway, unless one of my readers knows the source.

If it’s a skill, that we can sort.
If it’s a will, that we can’t.

The idea is that if someone doesn’t have the skills they need to be a successful employee, you can generally solve that problem with training, practice, etc.  In a few cases, skills can’t be developed due to lack of innate ability and job reassignment may be necessary, but that is often employer malpractice — you failed in your due diligence and hired the person for the wrong job in the first place.

But if someone doesn’t have the will to be a good employee, it just isn’t going to be sorted out.  Some people don’t want to work.  They want their employer to provide value (pay) to them but don’t want to provide value to their employer; they would rather fill a seat than fill a role, rather take a pay packet than take responsibility.  There isn’t much you can do in that case — it isn’t going to work.  If it is a “will” problem, the employer can’t sort that.  “Skill” can be sorted, “will” can’t.


Sometimes, as in employment, the Christian life just doesn’t go as easily as it could.  You sort of know what you are supposed to be doing, but you end up just not living the way you know the Lord wants you to.

The Skill Problems

Sometimes, you meant well, but just blew it.  You didn’t know your Bible well enough, and you ended up doing something that, after the fact, you realise it would have been better undone.  Or you knew your Bible, but you didn’t actually think through how you should be applying what it says.

By far, the most popular post on this blog, the one that still gets “discovered” and shared around Facebook all the time, is about something like that.  People just don’t think something through, and when someone points it out, they say, “Oh, yeah!  That makes sense!”  No Christian wants to be taking God’s name in vain, but sometimes people will slip into habits without thinking about it.  Often, when someone does point it out, you want to tell others as well, to help them.

Those things are “skill problems” — you either weren’t skilled enough in knowing your Bible, in knowing what God expects, or you weren’t skilled enough in applying your Bible.

Sometimes, you knew what was right and wrong, but you ended up in a position where the temptation to do wrong over-powered you.  It wasn’t that you really want to do wrong, but you got swamped.

That’s usually a skill problem, too.  Perhaps you neglected to “put on the whole armour of God” (Ephesians 6), so you weren’t ready to “stand against the wiles of the devil.”  Your problem was not when the temptation came, your problem was BEFORE it ever came along, a failure to develop the spiritual strength to stand.  Or perhaps the skill you lacked is vigilance, the alertness to how deceptive temptation can be:

I Peter 5:8

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

The skills can be learned.  If you stumbled, look back to the steps that led up to it, and you begin to be vigilant.  You don’t have to be tricked by temptation.  If you AREN’T vigilant, learn from those who are.  There are plenty of Christians around who will be glad to help you.

If it’s a skill, that we can sort.

If you want to be a stronger, more faithful Christian, you need not fear.  If a good employer can help you sort out your employment skill deficiencies, how much more can Almighty God?  This isn’t an unsolvable problem, and it doesn’t rely on your abilities.  God has begun a good work in you, and He’ll finish it:

Philippians 1:6

Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

But of course, this is all dependent on that “if” — “if you want to be stronger, more faithful Christian.”  If it’s a skill problem, that we can sort.  If it’s a will problem, if you want to sin, you want to be a lazy Christian, you don’t want to be what God wants you to be, there’s not much anyone can do with that.  In fact, at that point it is time to ask yourself if you even know what being a Christian really is, and if you really are a child of God at all.

But if it’s a skill, that can be sorted, there is ALWAYS  a way.  God said so.

I Corinthians 10:13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.


Related:  A fun story with similar points:  Trying to Hit the Ball — “This horrible experience at the hands of those girls caused all my weird character quirks. Fifth-grade girls are the root cause of war and disease and world poverty and hunger.”

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
This entry was posted in Daily Christianity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Skill Problem / A Will Problem

  1. Ruth Gleason says:

    Good reading for this morning! So encouraging!

  2. Matt Parker says:

    We used to say, “Hire character; train technical”.

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