God Always Calls the Wrong People
If we were in charge of responding to a hurting world, we certainly wouldn’t take God’s approach in enlisting leaders, would we? What would we do? We would put together a job description with very specific requirements. We would require a certain amount of experience, various skills, educational credentials, and of course references. There would also need to be the necessary background checks. We would also want people who have confidence that they can do the job.
God has clearly taken a different approach. Take Moses for example: In addition to various other deficits, he is a murderer. He also clearly doesn’t want the job. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” Take Peter: Impulsive and lacks courage. We say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Not Peter. When the going got tough, he denied Jesus three times and fled. Or how about Paul? Why on earth would anyone want the chief persecutor of the church to become its primary advocate?
What is true for leaders is also true for the rank and file of the movement. Think of Paul’s words to the church in Corinth: “Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor. 1: 26-29).
It is my experience that the average member of the church doesn’t feel qualified for many aspects of the church’s mission. When asked to consider visiting the sick, they say “Who am I that I should go to someone in distress and great need?” When asked to teach children about the faith, they say, “I am flattered, but I don’t think I know my Bible well enough.” When asked to provide hospitality for temporarily homeless families as part of the Interfaith Hospitality Network, they say, “I don’t have any experience with the homeless population. I am not sure I will know what to do.”
Although there may well be very good reasons why people shouldn’t serve in various capacities, could it be that our feelings of inadequacy are an essential requirement for the task at hand? Could it be that what we most need for God’s work is not confidence in our abilities, but the realization that we are going to need God’s help? And could it be that what doesn’t look very impressive—people like you and I—is exactly what God can use to love and support other people who don’t feel very impressive themselves.