“God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” I don’t know who first said it, but it has been said many times since. I don’t usually like to start anything I write with a cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason, usually because they are true.
I am among the least in my chosen field. I was not a “star” in my seminary – academically or socially. I have applied and been rejected from more ministry positions than I can count. I have worked three and four blue-collar jobs at one time just to scrape by and have tearfully screamed at my Master of Divinity “why have you let me down?” I have failed. I have failed in my personal life, in relationships, and in my career.
So why do I still consider myself called?
Because, quite frankly, my calling isn’t about me. My calling doesn’t make me special. It simply places me in a unique position to watch God work through the impossibilities of my life and to hope that other people recognize God’s presence and are changed by it too.
I was a 20 year old college student who got in over her head developing a summer camp for children living in poverty with only $20 in my pocket to start. The summer camp ran for three years and created an opportunity for Christians from many different denominations to come together and reach children in the name of Jesus. I didn’t do that. It was all God. It was a miracle.
I remember one night, before camp started and it all looked impossible, falling to my knees and asking God to take the camp away from me. I told him I couldn’t do it. I told him that if the camp was His will, He was going to have to prove it.
And He did. Money poured in from the most random and outrageous of sources. Schoolteachers volunteered their time to tutor children. Loaves of bread arrived on our doorstep just as we ran out of all our loaves of bread.
I didn’t run a camp. I just witnessed God do something remarkable. And I have no idea why He chose me to witness it.
Another chapter of my life was written and closed, and God called me as Children’s Minister to a church (amazingly the same church that hosted the camp – isn’t God genius?) at the height of my struggle with anorexia nervosa. I was a broken vessel being sent to minister to broken people and broken people’s children. And I didn’t understand it. The people in that church ministered more to me than I to them, and if I hadn’t been in that position at that church, it would have been impossible for me to get the treatment I needed. Now, a year later, I am able to share my testimony at that same church and hope that God speaks through it to show someone else that healing is possible. Once again, God put me in a position that I did not deserve nor earn, but that enabled me to proclaim His wondrous deeds in front of others so that they may come to Him and glorify Him in hearing.
Last week, I was offered a position teaching 4 year old kindergarten at a local school. I am not a certified teacher. School starts in two weeks. I am literally unqualified and unprepared. But God plopped this opportunity into my lap. I did not even apply to this job. I feel the familiar tug of a calling from God. I tremble at my inadequacy, but I hold my breath in expectation, because I know that God is going to do something amazing that I will get to tell people about one day. And whatever it is that He does, I don’t have to worry about anyone mistaking me for Him. Because I am so unworthy, He can’t help but get the glory.
And I think that is what it all comes down to.
I believe I am chosen, not for my abilities or my gifts, but precisely because of the absence of them.
God will call us to places we are unprepared to go. God will dress us in robes we are unworthy to wear. God will send us marching into impossible situations looking like fools for believing we have the right to be there.
God is amazingly creative. He rarely does anything in the way we expect. We hurt and we cry and we feel ashamed because we are unworthy, but all the time God says, “just let me use you. Just trust me. I know what I am doing.”
And that is what we, as ministers, are ultimately called to do. To just let God use us.
The rest will fall into place.
Friends, ministry is hard. And sometimes we find ourselves in places or situations we never expected to be in. Sometimes we are in places we don’t want to be. Sometimes we are in places better than we ever imagined we could be.
I implore you, do not fear your inadequacy. Fear God alone.
You may find yourself in a ministry job or position you are ill-prepared for. You may find your church or your ministry in an impossible situation. Be of good cheer.
This is the chance you’ve been waiting for – the chance for the world to witness who God really is and what God can really do. You are in the best possible position.
You are then lens through which the world can see the hand of God.
Ministry is not about us. Thank God it is not about us.
I encourage anyone in ministry or accepting a ministry job to pray that God will take the ministry away from them, just as I prayed about camp all those years ago. Our ministries are safe in God’s hands. Your inadequacy will not interrupt His will.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you are a fool for believing you are called.
The Spirit will do the rest.