I still remember that day in 1981 when I prayed a simple prayer that changed my life forever. "Lord, if you can ever use someone like me after all I have done to break your heart, I make myself available to You."
Little did I know what God had in store!
Yet, I often feel totally unqualified to do the things God has called me to do. But there's such freedom in knowing I don't need to compete with or impress anybody else. I need only to be who God wants me to be, making myself available to Him every day. The Lord is not concerned as much about our ability but more about our willingness and our availability.
God desires to give us an overflowing life (Ps. 23:5); but in order to unlock His heavenly storehouses, we must unconditionally surrender our lives and resources to Him (Mal. 3:8–12.)
Jesus tells us, "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Unless we are intimately joined to Jesus, the vine, we will accomplish nothing and bear no fruit at all. But Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) provides the other side of the coin: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Becoming Faithful Stewards
When God looks for men and women to use in His service, He searches for people whose lives align with the gospel and His kingdom. He entrusts His resources to people who display the character of His Son, King Jesus. No matter whether a leader is called to pastor a church, manage a company, lead a nonprofit organization or impact some other area of society, he or she is a sacred steward of God's resources and gifts.
If you're anything like me, you probably feel overwhelmed by God's calling at times. You're aware of your human frailty and limitations, and sometimes the challenges seem too great. Like the 10 spies whose spines turned to jelly at the sight of giants in the promised land, you are tempted to cower in fear at the daunting mission set before you.
But there is good news. When God calls you, He also equips and empowers you to fulfill your mission. This beautiful Scripture puts this all in perspective: "The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His" (2 Chron. 16:9a, NASB).
Notice that God doesn't support just anyone. He looks for a certain kind of person—someone "whose heart is completely His." Are you that kind of person? I surely hope so, because the Lord promises to "strongly support" the person who fully gives his heart to Him.
No matter what issues you face in life, remember this: The heart of the matter is always a matter of the heart. Why do traits like holiness, humility, honor and honesty please the Lord and draw His favor? Because each of those characteristics is an indication that we've given our hearts to Him.
However, there's something I need to clarify before we move on. I'm not talking about perfection here. You may stumble and bumble along the way, but that doesn't mean you're hopeless! Biblical leaders from Noah to Peter failed terribly in their lives, but God still used them to fulfill His purposes. "Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again," Solomon wrote, "but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes" (Prov. 24:16, NIV).
Think of King David. Despite his tragic fall into adultery and even murder, God said, "I have found David the son of Jesse a man after My own heart, who will fulfill My entire will" (Acts 13:22, MEV). Once again, the Lord looked beyond David's outward appearance and saw his heart (see 1 Sam. 16:7).
If you've fallen and dismally failed the Lord in some way, it's time to rise again. There's still time to realign your heart and your life with His kingdom purposes. It's not too late to attract His presence and favor.
F.A.T.: Faithful, Available and Teachable
You've probably heard the old maxim "God isn't concerned about your ability, just your availability." There's a lot of truth in that statement. The Christian life is a supernatural life—God will gladly supply the super if we are willing to make available the natural.
Too often, ministry leaders are prone to select apprentices based on personality or giftedness. But look at Paul's instruction to his spiritual son Timothy on how to pick the next generation of leaders:
" Share the things that you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses with faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2).
You see, one of the most important qualities of a leader is faithfulness. If you want to pour your life into the next generation, look not for those with spiritual gifts and charisma alone. Instead, be on the lookout those who are FAT: faithful, available and teachable. Faithfulness will trump flashiness every time.
And here's the good news about ability: When we are faithful in our walk with God, making ourselves fully available to Him, and are teachable, He will always give us the ability to fulfill our calling. Paul describes this beautifully:
"We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant" (2 Cor. 3:4–6, NLT).
So if you doubt your qualifications for some ministry or career God has called you to, spend some time meditating on this great passage. On your own, you may be totally unqualified; but you're not on your own! As Paul says here, your qualification comes from God. He has enabled you to be His ambassador, a minister of the new covenant.
When you have this perspective, God can use you to minister to anyone. You won't be intimidated if He sends you to a professional athlete, a billionaire, a famous entertainer or a government leader. Neither will you be too proud to show the compassion of Jesus to those who are homeless, addicted, or oppressed by demons. You can reach people who are on top of the world and those scrounging for food at a third world garbage dump. You're ready to be God's faithful ambassador to both the "up and outers" and the "down-and-outers," because He has faithfully equipped you.
Equipped and Adequate
Years ago, the Lord spoke to me through His words to Jeremiah:
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you were born I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations" (Jer. 1:5, MEV).
Jeremiah was not impressed by the powerful commission he had been given from God; instead, he protested that he was inadequate for the task: "Ah, Lord God! Truly, I cannot speak, for I am a youth" (Jer. 1:6).
Perhaps you are feeling much like Jeremiah—unequipped and inadequate for the mission God has called you to. Maybe you are protesting just as he did, or perhaps you think the Lord will be impressed by your humility. Look at how God responded to Jeremiah's protest:
"Do not say, 'I am a youth.' For you shall go everywhere that I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces. For I am with you to deliver you," says the Lord.
Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, "Now, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant" (Jer. 1:7b-10).
When I first read these words, I was just a youth myself, but I sensed the Lord challenging me to quit looking at my youthful inexperience or other inadequacies. Instead, I needed to look to Him as my equipper, the one who enabled me to do "all things" (Phil. 4:13) through His strength.
The foundational lesson for all of us is this: When God calls you, He will also equip you. Fear not! He is going with you (see Josh. 1:3–9.) So be bold as you step into your destiny, reaching out to all those He puts in your path.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article later this week.
(Portions of this article were extrapolated from the book, Leadership Awakening by Doug Stringer)
Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America and Somebody Cares International, a global network bringing hope and healing to communities through prayer initiatives, compassion outreaches and cooperative efforts. He is the author of numerous books, including In Search of a Father's Blessing and Leadership Awakening: Foundational Principles for Lasting Success.
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