￼You’re Not DisqualifiedStep out in faith, being confident that it’s God’s strength at work in you, not your own.
I knelt outside my house, phone to my ear, blinking through tears. “I’ll never be good enough,” I thought to myself as I attempted to explain the frustrating situation to my friend. “Who do I even think I am?”
Six months prior, I had felt so strongly that God was calling me into ministry, specifically to children. I vividly remember the moment He laid it on my heart while I was visiting a Bible college with a friend. The room was full of people worshiping, but I felt like I was alone with God. His calling was something I felt Him speak to me in the very core of my being.
Fast forward a couple of months. I was finishing my undergraduate degree in education before starting Bible school in the spring. I was spending the semester student teaching.
I thought student teaching was something I would excel at, but I found myself overwhelmed and underperforming. I wasn’t going to meet the requirements necessary to complete my practicum. Worse still, someone spoke words that deeply cut me: “How did you get this far? Why can’t you perform common-sense tasks?”
As I spoke over the phone to my friend, I choked out the feelings of inadequacy that I felt, detailing the steps I would have to take from there. She reassured me that I was capable, but all I felt was shame and failure.
I modified my program, finished the semester (without earning a teaching license) and went on to Bible school. At the time, I was also working in kids’ ministry. While people told me I was doing a good job, I couldn’t help but suspect that I was a disappointment. I felt my experience in the classroom disqualified me from my calling.
Have you found yourself in a similar position? You may feel that you will never measure up to what people expect you to be. Maybe you’ve failed or made a terrible mistake from which you think you will never recover. Perhaps you assume you don’t have the ability to do anything great. You feel disqualified.
During this difficult time, I came across an image that reminded me of the many people in the Bible who seemed like they were down for the count–people that the world would have taken one look at and disqualified.
But that’s not how our God works. Let’s look at a few of these figures.
David is remembered as a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 3:14), but not all his actions reflected that. His adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband Uriah should have rendered him unfit for God’s service. Yet, it was his humble repentance in the face of his own sin that allowed him to continue in God’s calling (2 Samuel 12).
Elijah is arguably most famous for his victorious confrontation with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). Not soon after this conflict, he fled in terror from Queen Jezebel who plotted to take his life. Elijah thought he was done. Sitting defeated under a broom tree, Elijah prayed that God would take his life (1 Kings 19:4). God didn’t answer this request. He wasn’t done doing miracles through Elijah just yet.
God asked Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and Moses had a long list of reasons why he wasn’t qualified for the task. One was that he “wasn’t very good with words” (Exodus 4:10). Moses thought he wasn’t good enough. Yet, as we continue to read Exodus, we see how God miraculously delivers His people through Moses, despite his own perceived inability.
Peter’s story could have ended in failure. He adamantly declared that he would never abandon Jesus (Matthew 26:33). Contrary to his words, he scattered with the rest of the disciples the night Jesus was arrested, then denied three times that he knew Him. When Jesus rose from the dead, He didn’t turn His back on Peter. He lovingly restored him and entrusted him with the task of taking care of His people (John 21:15-19).
Do you see yourself in any of their situations? I did. God’s choice servants aren’t perfect. They’re human beings riddled with feelings of shame, inadequacy and failure. They made mistakes that the world wouldn’t easily excuse. They understood defeat. Many questioned their calling. Others felt they didn’t measure up. Some wanted to give in. God knew otherwise.
I took the image that reminded me of these characters and set it as the background on my iPad. At the bottom of the image was a verse that I often find myself turning to when I’m too focused on my shortcomings. It reads:
“Brothers, consider your calling: Not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing— to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one can boast in His presence.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
God chooses the ones the world views as weak because through them He gets the most glory. He chooses those of us who have failed, those who have made devastating mistakes and those that others think lack ability, because He shows His strength best in our weakness.
I remained working in the same children’s ministry for nearly five years. In the back of my mind, I still felt unworthy. As I left that ministry to step into the next one to which God had called me, I saw how God’s power was working through me all along. The outpouring of love and encouragement from the kids, families and other church members that I received demonstrated to me that though I felt weak, in Christ, I was strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Your failures, your mistakes and your feelings of inadequacy don’t disqualify you from God’s calling. God isn’t calling you to be the best speaker, the greatest thinker or the strongest player. He’s calling you to be faithful. Step out in faith, being confident that it’s God’s strength at work in you, not your own.
This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of The War Cry.