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Although we hate to admit incompetence, we don't have to live in fear of it.

I sat alone on the sofa in the basement, my feet pulled under me and a pillow crunched against my stomach to somehow loosen the knot of dread. After just five months in the church, I was living my worst fear: one of my elders had questioned my ability to pastor this church.

I'd moved from blue-collar Michigan to the sophisticated business culture of Toronto. My one fear, expressed secretly to my wife during the candidating process, centered on the administrative expectations the church would have of me. I felt somewhat incompetent in administration and had browbeat myself about it throughout my ten years in Michigan. Now the words of the elder, though expressed as concern and not criticism, made me think I had run up against the "Peter Principle."

Lawrence Peter wrote his book The Peter Principle in 1969 as a tongue-in-cheek analysis of, as the book is subtitled, "why things go wrong." The Peter Principle states: "Every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." Two corollaries ...

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