Pretty much every time I step into ministry I freak out a little. And I don’t mean just the first time. I do a lot of teaching and writing. Yet nearly every time I sit down to prepare or to write, I start to panic. I don’t have anything to write. I don’t know where to start. It’s too hard and too big. I am totally unqualified to do this.
I used to be afraid that someone might find this out about me. I was worried that if they knew how unqualified and unconfident I am, they would give the job to someone else. But I’ve begun to realize something…I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way.
Recently I was at a conference for creativity and theology. Of course, I felt like a fraud for being there, because what I do probably doesn’t qualify as creative. But I kept hearing a thread running throughout many of the sessions – many of the speakers felt unqualified also. They too found themselves overwhelmed. They too weren’t always sure why God was using them.
We are Unqualified
Because ministry often pushes us out of our comfort zone and outside of ourselves, it requires vulnerability and humility. It exposes us. And in a sense, we can take comfort in this.
When we recognize our inability, God can make us able. It is when we feel unqualified that we are most aware that we must depend on him. And when we depend on God to make us able, he gets all the glory.
When we feel unqualified or ill-equipped to do ministry, it is easy to feel like a fraud. It’s tempting to feel paralyzed, like there is no way we can accomplish what we are supposed to. And it can be tempting to want to apologize or compensate for what we consider not being enough.
But if God intentionally chooses to use the weak (in whatever way we might be weak), then we don’t have to lose heart in our weakness. Instead, we can remind ourselves of truth and move forward in confidence knowing that we are called by God, equipped by God and made worthy by God.
Called by God
God’s calling may look different for each of us. But a good rule of thumb is that if we feel like we could or should do something then others will affirm that feeling. We may hear of opportunities or needs that resonate with us or be asked to do something. God doesn’t usually speak audibly to call us. So, we use the wisdom and discernment He has granted us.
When God brings us into his family by grace through faith in Jesus, he intends that we will be a functioning part of that family. Just as I expect my kids to contribute around the house for their good and the good of the household, so does our heavenly Father. He has things for us to do, and people for us to love.
These things may not always be glamorous. They may be something you never imagined yourself doing. They may seem to make too little of your gifts or talents. Or they might stretch you beyond your abilities.
But if the Lord is calling you to do something for the sake of his kingdom, no matter how big or small, you can be sure he knows what he is doing. You may not feel qualified or willing, but you can trust that he will never leave you or forsake you. And take comfort that success in ministry comes from faithfully and obediently serving God, rather than looking good before others.
Equipped by God
God gives us talents, passions, abilities, and gifts to be used for his glory. And much of what he calls us to do uses what we are good at. This is one way that he equips us.
He also sometimes calls us to do things outside of what we love or are good at. And he enables us to do these things, too. Hospitality is not my passion. I’d rather be teaching. But God has entrusted our family with hosting a small group. Therefore, I’m getting to be friends with the ministry of hospitality.
We can trust the Lord to carry us through whatever work he gives us to do. Even when it feels like we are flying by the seat of our pants, he is present, he is acting, and he won’t abandon us.
Made Worthy by God
It is imperative that we remember that apart from Christ we are unworthy and unqualified. But unlikely candidates have never stopped God. In fact, his own Son was weak and humble in his humanity, yet he broke the chains of sin and death in the ultimate act of service (Philippians 2:5-11). He sits in enthroned in heaven, interceding for us. If he is our example and our provision, how can we fear being unworthy or unqualified (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)?
We must not fall victim to doubt by feeling like a fraud. It’s true. We are unqualified. But we are made qualified by the most trustworthy God. We are in good hands, and so is our ministry, whatever it is. Therefore, we can serve freely, confidently and obediently, trusting God to call us, equip us and make us worthy.