I grew up mostly in New York City. Because of this, I couldn’t change a leaky faucet or fix a door knob or replace a breaker switch even if I tried. I’m a native New Yorker and we can’t do those things. Or so that’s what we were told that the apartment building’s “super” was for. In NYC if something isn’t working in your apartment, you called someone. But that’s not true for all New Yorkers; maybe just the majority of us lazy guys. Some New Yorkers are like others and have great self-efficacy.
The concept of self-efficacy[i] is the measure of your own ability to complete a task or reach a goal no matter if you are expert in or have prior knowledge of the task or goal. It is the ability to look at a problem and with sober judgment say, “I can do it or I can fix it.” Self-efficacy is a distinct concept from self-esteem or self confidence or even self-concept. Psychologists have been studying self-efficacy for about fifty years now, and many theories have been put forth as to why some people are more self-efficacious than others. For me there are several areas in life where I have high self-efficacy. But if someone told me a few years ago I needed to replace a leaky faucet, I would cringe and call a plumber.
Recently, I have decided that those things around the house that need attention, whether it be a plumbing, electrical, or even a mechanical issue, are things I should be able to do. If others can do it, why can’t I? My self-efficacy in these areas, once mysterious and even dangerous in my mind, has surprisingly gone up over the last few years.
What has changed? How did that happen? Did I get the right tools and so felt more equipped? No. Something internal changed. And the best I can surmise is that I have been given a certain measure of grace by God to have a change in my self-efficacy towards many tasks and goals, and not just spiritual ones. As I was replacing my vanity in my upstairs bathroom recently, I sensed that something radical has changed in me. I certainly can’t take any credit for the new efficacy.
So if it is the grace of God that can change us to do just about anything we normally couldn’t do (supernatural power), then the concept of self-efficacy needs to be understood more from a spiritual dimension. Maybe we should begin to study spiritual-efficacy in individuals (or to use a more academic sounding term Spiritus-ecficacitas). Since I am coining the term, I would define Spiritus-ecficacitas as the ability to allow the Spirit of God to change you and empower you in order that you are capable of accomplishing the goals and tasks that He has laid before you, whether spiritual or not.
Jesus said many amazing things about the Spirit-empowered believer: “12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:12-14). As we have faith and Spiritual empowerment, Jesus said we can move mountains, we can raise the dead, we can heal the sick, and we can dispossess people of demonic powers. Wow! Spiritus-ecficacitas!
The Apostle Paul also spoke about Spiritus-ecficacitas as the ability to weather any life difficulty or accomplish any God-ordained task “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!” (Phil 4:13). I guess the question for the theologians among us (that is, anyone who thinks about God) is “Does Spiritus-ecficacitas apply to all areas of life, even the mundane?” I believe so. Just come over and check out my new bathroom vanity. Soli Deo Gloria!
© Paul Dordal, 2012