When You Don't Have What It Takes

By Kyle Idleman

I came home from work one day and my wife greeted me at the door with, “Morgan is still asleep. She’s been sleeping long enough though, so why don’t you go wake her up.” 

When I opened her door, I could see that a large chest-of-drawers had fallen over. I frantically looked around the room for Morgan. That’s when it hit me.

I ran over, pulled the chest off my 4-year-old daughter and screamed for my wife. Morgan was breathing, but was black and blue and she wasn’t moving or making any noise.

A Real Man

My whole life I had tried to be a “real man.” Being a real man meant having what it takes to do whatever needed to be done. But in that moment, I realized I couldn’t help my daughter.

I felt totally desperate and kept repeating to myself, ‘I don’t have what it takes.’ There was absolutely nothing I could do to help my daughter
— Kyle Idleman

I grabbed the phone and dialed 9-1-1. It rang more than twenty times but no one answered. I hung up, and ran out to my car, carrying Morgan.

I Don't Have What it Takes

I drove to the hospital while my wife sat in the backseat holding my daughter. I called 9-1-1 again, but there was still no answer. I felt totally desperate and kept repeating to myself, “I don’t have what it takes.” There was absolutely nothing I could do to help my daughter. 

That’s when I heard my wife. She was praying. I realized that was something I coulddo, and I started to pray with her. Not having what it takes forced me to turn to God.

Eventually we got to the hospital. Morgan still wasn’t moving or making any noise. Doctors and nurses surrounded her and began preparing us for the worst. Again, I felt helpless. “I don’t have what it takes” Again, I prayed desperate prayers.

Finally the doctors were able to revive Morgan, but when we left later that day, she still couldn’t move her left leg. The doctor said the nerve damage might be permanent.

Weeks of testing followed and we were told that within six months, her muscles would palsy and she would be left with a permanent disability. I wanted so badly for my daughter to heal but there was nothing I could do to help her. Again, “I don’t have what it takes.”

Every morning my wife and I would go in and pray for Morgan. Then we’d say the same thing, “Morgan, move your toes.” And every day she would look up at us smiling and say “They don’t work.” Then finally, one day, they did! (You’ll have to forgive me if you see my daughter running through church and I don’t stop her.)

A Peace that Passes Understanding

Looking back, I remember standing in the waiting room and wondering what was happening with my daughter. I remember praying and suddenly having the panic of the moment give way to a sense of peace I couldn’t explain. God promises he’ll give us a “peace that passes understanding” and that’s exactly what I experienced in that hospital.

God came through for me in all kinds of ways by forcing me to turn to Him after realizing I couldn’t do a single thing to help my daughter. Turning to God in complete desperation after realizing I couldn’t is where I discovered He could.

Perhaps you’ve been in a place where you could not deny, “I don’t have what it takes.”

If not, it’s coming. If it’s happened, or when it does, it feels painful.


I remember praying and suddenly having the panic of the moment give way to a sense of peace I couldn’t explain.
— Kyle Idleman

Because real men are supposed to have what it takes. We can do it … on our own. We don’t need anyone or any help.

That’s … a lie.

It’s also a lie that arriving at the moment of realization that “I don’t have what it takes” is full of pain. Well, there may be some pain, but, even more, that moment is full of power.


We receive God’s power only to the extent that we’re able to recognize our need for it.

That’s why real men learn to live in the recognition that they don’t have what it takes – as husbands, fathers, employers or employees, church volunteers or leaders – and so they live in a radical dependence on God. They live in a radical partnership with God. Through that partnership and through God’s strength, they find they have what it takes.


KYLE IDLEMAN is the teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and is the author of the award-winning and bestselling book, not a fan. You can follow him on Facebook.