Most people see me as very confident. While I am fairly good at portraying this quality, I struggle with many insecurities. One that I have struggled with for decades relates to my qualification to be a minister.
Over the years, I’ve been told numerous times that I shouldn’t be a pastor or vocational minister. Reasons given include, but are not limited to: my personality (I’m not outgoing enough), the fact I haven’t gone to seminary or Bible college, and I’m not a charismatic speaker. While all of these things are accurate about me in their factual statement, I dispute that they are valid reasons for disqualifying a person from being a vocational minister.
I freely admit that I’m not qualified, and that it is only by God’s abilities working through me that I am able to minister. I see many people in Scripture and history that were not humanly qualified, yet God worked mightily through them.
I’m a nobody
There are so many examples in Scripture of men and women with great inadequacy and insecurity, who the Lord chose to work through mightily. One could probably write a rather long book just looking at the unqualified people that God used.
One of my favorites is Gideon. (You can read his story in Judges chapters six through eight). When we first meet Gideon, he is threshing wheat in a winepress. In other words, he was scared and hiding. These are not generally characteristics we look for when we want a leader for a nation’s army.
But God saw him differently. The angel of the Lord’s first words to Gideon were, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” (Judges 6:12) My paraphrase of Gideon’s response is, “The Lord’s not with us, that’s why I’m hiding in this hole in the ground. Besides, who am I? I’m the least of my family, which is the least of my tribe, which is the least of the nation. I’m the farthest thing from a mighty man of valor. In fact, I’m a nobody.”
Anybody else relate to that feeling or is it just me? I don’t have a great pedigree of ministers in my family. My education focused on the wrong things. I don’t have the charisma needed to impress people to listen to me. I’m not enough. And yet, God has said to me, “The Lord is with you, O mighty warrior.”
I don’t know enough
Another area of insecurity is my lack of ability to quote Scripture off the top of my head. I’m fairly good at recalling the context of passages, sometimes even from the correct book or chapter. However, I really struggle with exact quotes, including precise address citation.
Adding to my inadequacy in lack of exact memory recall is the fact that I don’t know Hebrew or Greek. I joke about struggling with understanding English. The reality is that I wish that I was able to learn other languages. It is something that I have tried and failed at numerous times. Some believe that without knowing the original languages, you can not properly interpret Scripture. This may be true to some degree, but I have the Holy Spirit who is the best teacher ever.
There have been so many times that I’ve been ministering where the Holy Spirit speaks through my mouth. I hear the words and need to make notes, because they are not my words. He is more than able to speak through us, if we are willing to be submitted to Him.
This doesn’t give me a pass on studying. I have read the entire Bible many times. In fact, I generally read the entirety of Scripture each year, and have for many years. By reading all of the Bible, in context, in conjunction with the other areas of Scripture, in a humility of prayer for the Lord to teach me, I am able to speak and teach. Even when I am unable to directly quote the Word, He is able to bring it forth from the depths of my being, where it is stored up.
I don’t learn that way
The final area of insecurity I’ll mention is my inability to keep up with a large volume of verbal information. I process information best visually, which usually means reading or seeing something done. When receiving new information, if I begin to feel that I’m falling behind in understanding, it triggers me to either pause the information source to be able to catch up, or to flee. If information keeps coming, I shut down. This makes me feel inadequate or not sufficiently intelligent.
When ministering, there is a lot of information that has to be processed. In counseling people, most of the information comes verbally. God chose a guy that struggles to adequately process oral information, to work with people who tell their stories verbally. That sounds about right, doesn’t it? Where I am most insecure, He wants me to minister in His security.
How true is the statement by John Stickl in his book Follow the Cloud, “Your next step is often in the direction of your greatest fear.” God does not shy away from what we are uncomfortable with, rather He often points us directly at it, so that He can show us who He is in the midst of our insecurity.
Only in Him
There is no way that I can minister in my own strength and abilities. And that is exactly how the Lord wants it to be. We need to be completely dependent upon Him, at all times, and in all ways. Only then will we be fully effective in what He is doing through us.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have been called to ministry. It may not be vocational, but it will be full-time. He wants to use you as a minister wherever you are; at work, school, the store, with your family. We need to be willing to lay our insecurities at His feet, so that He can do mighty things. We also need to encourage each other to minister however the Lord chooses to use each one of us, rather than judging one’s adequacy based on our preconceived expectations of abilities.
After all, it’s really not about you or me. Just as a hammer doesn’t tell the carpenter how to hit the nail, we don’t tell God how to love people. The screwdriver doesn’t direct the hand that turns it, nor do we direct the Lord. Rather, we are a tool in the hands of the Master, to be used as He determines, in His strength, with His power, for His glory. What insecurity of yours is the Lord wanting you to offer Him to use for His work?
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