Feeling inadequate? You're right where God wants you!
This post was originally written several years ago to encourage volunteers serving in kids' church while I was the Children's Ministry Assistant at my church. I read it again recently as an encouragement to myself and many others who are feeling ill-equipped for the task for which God has assigned them. I hope it encourages you today. - Taryn xo
When people describe their faith journeys, they usually talk about the first time they engaged in some kind of personal ministry. For some, it was a short-term mission trip. For others, it was leading a children's small group. It's not uncommon to hear stories of people being thrust into ministry environments almost against their wills.
When people describe their first ministry experiences, they use phrases like: "I was so afraid," "I felt so inadequate," "I felt so unprepared," "I hope they didn't ask me any hard questions," "I've never been so dependent on God."
Then they talk about the rush that followed when they realized God had used them, given them the words to say, allowed them to leverage their pasts to help someone move forward. Few things stretch us and grow our faith like stepping into a ministry environment for which we feel unprepared.
The bible is full of illustrations of God calling and prodding people into service in spite of their overwhelming sense of inadequacy. And in every instance their faith in God got bigger. This was the case with Moses, Joshua and Gideon.
Then, of course, there were the disciples. Jesus was constantly stretching their faith by pushing them into impossible situations. Perhaps the most famous was the day they insisted he send the crowds back into the nearby villages to find something to eat. Remember Jesus' response?
"They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."
Suddenly the disciples found themselves staring down the barrel of their own inadequacy. They were right where Jesus wanted them. It was a test of their faith. He knew exactly what he was doing and what he was planning to do.
If you've been in ministry for even a short amount of time, you know a little bit of what the disciples felt. Unlike us, however, they couldn't pretend they didn't hear correctly. What do you do when Jesus is actually standing there telling you to do something you know you can't do? Apparently you do what we do even now...
You make excuses and tell him things he already knows. "We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. Some things never change.
I'm not smart enough.
I'm not experienced enough.
I'm not resourced enough.
Get somebody else!
Yeah, some things never change, including Jesus' response: "Bring them here to me," he said.
In other words, just bring me what you do have and I'll work with that. Bring me your limited education, your lack of experience, along with your fear and insecurity, and what what I can do.
Isn't that our story? If we, or the people in our churches, ever get to the place where we are willing to make what we have available to God, amazing things will happen. Our faith will be bigger. Our confidence will increase. We will experience Emmanual--God with us. The disciples sure did.
Stepping into ministry allows us to experience God's power through us. It stretches us; it scares us. It takes us to the end of our inadequacy. Ministry forces us to be consciously dependent on God, and thus our faith is strengthened.
Here's something to remember: You're not alone if you feel inadequate. You're not alone if you feel anxious about the task at hand. You're not alone if you sometimes just don't feel like showing up and putting a smile on your face. These are things in which we all struggle.
But if God has called you to do something or help somewhere, he has chosen you--despite the excuses you may make about not being right for the job. So when you continue to show up, you make yourself available to God, and he gives you exactly what you need to do what he is asking you to do. And every time you make that choice, you grow.