Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When You Feel Inadequate

This morning, driving home from a Children's ministry meeting, I felt so inadequate. How did I get involved in this, God? Why was I the only one who responded to that request for help in the church bulletin? Surely the right person is not me, but someone else?

I love children, I love teaching, but my job won't entail much of either, really. 

Do you ever feel inadequate for the work God's given you? 

My main spiritual gifts are teaching, faith, giving and exhortation. And yet, the job I'm called to do involves managing staff people, parents and Sunday School classrooms from birth thru Kindergarten. We have two classrooms in this age group, and hope to add a third for the 3-year-old preschoolers who are too young for the 4- to 6-year-old curriculum.

I'm warm and I smile a whole lot, but I'm also shy. I don't walk up to people I barely know and start chit-chatting. People reach out to me initially and in subsequent weeks I grow comfortable with them and begin to check in with them socially before or after service. The relationships are a blessing to me, but they exist because of someone else's good social skills, not mine. Someone was brave enough to take a chance with me.

And the ministry job before me? It's a highly interactive one, as well as a detailed-oriented one. I can handle details well, but the people? How will my shyness affect my job? Will people misinterpret and think I'm unfriendly...or worse, snobby?

My home church meets in an elementary school and has no extra ministry for children; there's just Sunday School. I asked and I'm told I can plan a Vacation Bible School next year. I would really like to, but could I manage such a Herculean task, which is, more than anything else, managing people, resources and time? 

And did I mention, my children are always with me? (I like it that way, really.)

With these changes in my life, will I still be able to write regularly, which is such a blessing to me and such an integral part of my relationship with the Holy Spirit?

Driving home today, I remembered that Moses felt this way too when asked to serve.

When God appealed to him, Moses was eighty years old and felt very inadequate.  Excuses abounded. "Who am I that I should go?" (Ex.3:11). "But they won't listen to me" and "they won't believe me." (Ex.4:1). God told Moses what to do to win over the people. But Moses' next excuse was: "But I don't speak good" (Ex.4:10). Finally, God told Moses to take Aaron with him to speak for him.

Ideally, we would all serve in the capacity best suited to us. This is precisely why spiritual gifts inventories are so popular in churches nowadays. Most Christians have probably taken at least one.

So why didn't God ask a good speaker to do the work, rather than Moses? And why did God ask me to be a socially-adept manager, when clearly I'm not?

Joshua also fought feelings of inadequacy. In Joshua 1 God tells Joshua, more than once, to "be strong and courageous". Another three times God said, "Be strong and of good courage" (1:6), "be thou strong and very courageous" (1:7), "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed" (1:9). 

Solomon was a young king. Was it feelings of inadequacy that prompted him to ask God for wisdom, above all else?

In Jeremiah 1:6, Jeremiah tells God his fears: I'm too young and I don't speak well.

When Samuel appealed to Saul about God's desire for his life, Saul replied, "am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel; and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?" (I Sam.9:21)

Spiritual gift inventories are nice, but obedience is more important

At some point, God will ask you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable or inadequate, whether it's to stay with the spouse you despise, raise a special-needs child, handle a cancer diagnosis, care for an aging parent, or manage a huge ministry undertaking, such as Vacation Bible School.

You will want to make excuses, like Moses and Jeremiah and Saul. And like me.

When we stay in our comfort zone, who shines? We do. Conversely, when we step out in faith and obedience to do something hard, who shines? 

The Almighty God.

Scripture speaks to us of this phenomena in the verses below, and we mustn't be afraid. For doesn't the fear come from the sin of pride, really? We want to shine, but we fear we'll fall, instead?

We must step out humbly, joyfully, obediently, with our eyes on God and His power, not on ourselves.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

John 15:5
“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me – and I in him – bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.

Philippians 2:13
for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of his good pleasure – is God.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Your turn now. What difficult things has God asked you to do?


Tesha Papik said...

Oh I think it is Awesome that you volunteered! I so understand feeling inadequate. Because we are a small church and because I am the pastors wife I have been doing children church for many years. I KNOW it was a blessing that you volunteered to help. I would love to do a VBS also but the task seems huge I always say next year but one of these years I will follow through:) I agree, obedience is more important than gifting. I have often done many tasks and responsibility that were not my gifting or even my preference. No one wants to say my gift is scrubbing toilets yet they still must be scrubbed:) Your a good testimony and I pray God would bless this new adventure and use it in your life and to touch many.

Christine said...

Yes, the thought of planning a VBS is enough to make me crawl under a rock, even though I think VBS should be a part of every child's summer, if possible. Our pastor thinks we could get enough people to help, because unlike a regular classroom teacher, the commitment is one week per year, as opposed to on-going throughout the year.

I have to decide by Oct. of this year in order to have the money allocated for it next summer.

Loved your pregnancy update post, Tesha!

Beth said...

I can understand -- being the only one to volunteer for something. I did that for a Bible study and the guy that was leading the group left me to do it myself. I got over that and 5 years later married him.

I, too, would consider myself shy but have found that having a role helps me to come out of that.

Christine said...

"I got over that and five years later I married him."

That made me chuckle and rejoice all at once! Praise God. :)

Andrew & Terri said...

Whew. I have stepped up to be part of our co-op board going into this fall. At first I thought I could totally handle it (me, cause I'm so cool and all). After our first meeting I feel just a tad bit overwhelmed. Thanks for the reminder that *I* don't have to handle it! I know that God wanted me to take on this role, and *He* will supply.

Andrew & Terri said...

...not to mention continuing my role as AWANA Sparks secretary...