One of the most disheartening things that has ever happened to me was not getting hired for the position I wanted at the student newspaper at Elon during my junior year of college. I had applied for one of the highest positions, but I got what was basically a watered-down version of it with the leadership aspect of it taken out.
The editor-in-chief told me that I hadn’t proven myself enough as a capable leader that could fill the proposed role well enough. I was devastated for a little bit. I felt that a vital part of my personality had been personally attacked. Was that the proper way to think about it? I don’t think so. But it was a dig nonetheless, whether intentional or not. I felt like I was unqualified, incapable of performing the task that I so desired.
I often feel that way when it comes to ministry opportunities. An opportunity may present itself, and I think about whether or not I should do it. The first question that crosses my mind is usually: “Am I qualified?” Or “Have I done anything that would disqualify me?” I think there’s a sense where this is a legitimate question, but at the same time often it’s the wrong question to ask if we take it too far.
God Is With Those He Calls
There are three specific instances I love in Scripture where God calls men to be of service to Him. I love them because I can relate to each and every one of them.
First, Moses. In Exodus 3, God appears in the form of a burning bush and tells Moses that He’s going to use him to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt. Moses isn’t sold. He questions whether or not he’s the right guy because, well, who is he? Verses 11-12:
But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ (God) said, ‘But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.’
Second, Gideon. In Judges 6, “the angel of the LORD” comes to Gideon and charges him with the task of saving Israel from the invading nation of Midian. Gideon isn’t sold. He questions why him because he’s the weakest one in the weakest family. Verses 15-16:
And (Gideon) said to (the angel), ‘Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.’
Third, Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 1, God calls Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah isn’t sold. He questions why him because he’s a young guy. Verses 6-8, Jeremiah writes in the first person:
Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’ But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.’
Notice the pattern developing? Each time, God told His man that He was with them. And what happened? Moses led the people out of Egypt, was given the Ten Commandments and is responsible for writing the first five books of the Bible. Gideon led a group of 300 soldiers against more than 100,000 men and was victorious. Jeremiah spent his life prophesying about judgement and punishment, but also about coming grace and salvation.
God Qualifies the Called
When I read the Jeremiah story in particular, a few months ago, I was in the midst of a season of depression and frustration over a lot of things in my life. I read that first part and keyed in on how God basically ignored Jeremiah’s complaint and says, “Look, I’ve set this up, I’m calling you! Doesn’t matter what complaints you have. I’ve got you!” What I learned from that is that God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called simply by His presence. There is something to be said for having the skills and tools and talents for doing a certain thing in ministry. But there’s a sense where we shouldn’t be totally reliant on those things. We should be reliant on God working in us and through us in ministry.
Oftentimes it’s easy for me to look at ministry opportunities I’ve been given – like this blog – and think, “Well, because of this one particular sin in my life and my young age and my relative lack of life experience, who am I to do this? There are people far more qualified than me.” And yes, there are.
But I have the opportunities I have because God has given them to me. Not because I have any special qualifications or skills, but because He’s given them to me, because He deemed it necessary for me. Maybe He gave me the talents or skills to help with those things, or set up opportunities for me to learn those things.
But at the end of the day God calls me and you to different kinds of opportunities, within ministry and without, on His merit, not ours. And we should embrace and rejoice in those opportunities, praising God for Him qualifying us by His call on our lives. When we feel inadequate in whatever our calling is, we should pray and ask God for strength, trust that He knows what He’s doing by giving us these opportunities, and move forward, not leaning on our own understanding of ourselves and our weaknesses, but trusting what God says of us and what He’s giving us.
God’s view of you and His leading in your life are the most qualifying things you’ll ever have.