Note: This is the second of a two-part series. For part 1, click here.
I admit, I often feel totally unqualified to do the things God has called me to do. I don't feel I have all the needed education or training. Sometimes I even question my gifting and intellect. It seems incomprehensible that God would give me a worldwide ministry, and some days I can't help but feel inadequate.
But, as I mentioned earlier, 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. Remember, the Lord is not concerned about our ability but our availability. From the moment I gave my life to the Lord, I've said nearly every day, "Lord, if You can do anything with someone like me, then I'll make myself available to You."
Perhaps you're like me, scratching your head from time to time and wondering why God would choose to use you. I'm acutely aware of my human limitations. I'm just an ordinary guy who has made himself available to God.
That may sound rather simplistic, but that's my secret in a nutshell. I am available to the Lord, asking for His strength to help me fulfill His purposes for my life. And each day I endeavor to walk in obedience to His voice.
A Lesson in Availability
Luke tells a fascinating story about being available to the Lord:
"As the people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret and saw two boats beside the lake. But the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets" (Luke 5:1–2).
As this story unfolds, we see a need (large crowds) and an opportunity. That pretty much summarizes the situations we all face as leaders, doesn't it? The needs around us are usually overwhelming, but they present us with wonderful opportunities to trust the Lord and His supernatural intervention.
I love that there were two boats, both of which were available to Jesus to use. Why? Because the fishermen had gotten out of them. What a great reminder that Jesus wants us to empty our lives so He can fill them. As we get out of the way and decrease, He is free to increase (see John 3:30).
Jesus got into Simon Peter's boat "sat down and taught the people from the boat" (Luke 5:3b). If you truly grasp what is happening here, you will never have to feel inadequate again. You see, there was nothing special about Peter's boat. It was simply a wooden boat, not much different than any of the others. What made it special that day was that Jesus was in it!
In the same way, you may not feel as though you have any special abilities God can use. But if you make your boat or your life available to Jesus, great things can happen. He can teach, preach, heal the sick, cast out demons, show compassion on the homeless and do an unlimited array of other things from your little boat!
Although the story is already exciting at this point, it gets even better when Jesus says, "Launch into the deep and let down your nets for a catch" (Luke 5:4).
The lesson here is important for every Christian leader. God may have used you in the past but in comparison to where He wants to take you in the future, you've only been in shallow water. He is speaking a powerful message to us today: "It's time to head into deeper water. Yes, I've used you in the past, but you haven't seen anything yet!"
When he heard these words, Simon Peter was skeptical at first. Perhaps you are as well. "Master, we have worked hard all night and caught nothing," he told Jesus. "But at Your word I will let down the net" (Luke 5:5). This is such a great picture of simple obedience.
Despite the failures and frustrations of the past, we need to take courage and let down our nets one more time.
You probably know how the story ends. "When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was tearing" (Luke 5:6). Wow. They had worked hard the night before but caught nothing. However, everything changed when Jesus came on the scene and gave them instructions.
If you were paying attention at the beginning of this story, you may have noticed something intriguing. Two boats were empty and available to Jesus, but He chose the boat owned by Simon Peter. Does that mean Jesus may disregard us and choose someone else instead?
Well, yes and no. Indeed, there will be times when we aren't used by God as we think we should be. But look what happened later in the story: "So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats" (Luke 5:7a).
What a beautiful ending! Both boats were available, and both boats were a part of this massive catch of fish. If you feel underutilized at the moment, don't despair. Keep seeking the Lord, remain available to Him and make sure you have a servant's heart. If you do these things, it's only a matter of time before you will participate in a supernatural harvest of blessings.
Preparation for Greater Things
If you or I were the fisherman who witnessed the miracle catch in Luke 5, we probably would have concluded, "It doesn't get any better than this!" Verse 9 says, "For [Simon Peters] and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken."
Even though the fishermen had experienced something quite astounding, they would have been mistaken to conclude that this was the ultimate miracle of their lifetimes. Jesus told Simon Peter, "From now on you will catch men" (Luke 5:10).
You see, the miraculous catch of fish wasn't the pinnacle of the disciples' success. They weren't going to sit around in their old age and say, "Boy, that was the greatest day of our lives." No, not at all. This experience was meant only to whet their appetite for a far great mission—becoming fishers of men and women.
Take a moment to consider how this applies to your own life and ministry. Has God used you in the past? That's great. Every past experience is part of a training process to get you ready for even greater fruitfulness to come.
So how can we prepare ourselves for greater blessings? As already mentioned, our usefulness in God's kingdom begins with our availability and obedience. Maybe we've been available and obedient in the past; even so, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts on an ongoing basis, ensuring that we're still "a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God" (Rom. 12:1b). The final verse in this passage shows that the disciples were still available—in fact, even more so—at the end of this episode: "They left everything and followed Him" (Luke 5:11b).
The story of the miracle harvest of fish is filled with so much drama that it's easy to overlook the themes of holiness and preparation. Before any miracles occurred, we're told that the disciples "were washing their nets" (Luke 5:2b). In the same way, we can't expect to win many people to the Lord until we've allowed Him to do a deep cleansing work in our lives (see Ps. 51:10–13.)
It's also stunning that Peter repented after Jesus had blessed him with this abundant catch. "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8b) he said. This is an important point I don't want you to miss. We may have been used by God in the past, but that doesn't mean we should be arrogant and enthralled by our own press clippings; instead, we should give thanks to the Lord and humble ourselves before Him.
The Upside of Inadequacy
The fishermen were taken from inadequacy and fruitlessness to a sudden harvest of supernatural blessings. As they made themselves available and simply obeyed Jesus' instructions, they stumbled upon the amazing reality that God is "able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us" (Eph. 3:20).
Feelings of inadequacy can be crippling at times, but they can be used for our good. As King David sang in Psalm 61:2b, when our heart is overwhelmed by the challenges of this life, we can say to the Lord, "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
Awareness of our own inadequacy reminds us of our dependency on the Lord.
The Bible presents us with such a wonderful truth on this subject. On the one hand, Jesus tells us, "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5b). Notice that He didn't say, "Without Me, you won't reach your full potential" or "Without Me, you won't accomplish much." No, unless we are intimately joined to Jesus, the vine, we will accomplish nothing and bear no fruit at all.
We'll accomplish nothing apart from Christ, but Philippians 4:13 provides the other side of the coin: "I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me." So there's no need to hang our heads in defeat, frustration or inadequacy. With the power of the resurrected Christ in us, we are able to live in victory and fulfill every assignment God gives us!
Like Jeremiah, Moses, David, Paul and many other leaders in the Bible, we may have plenty of excuses as to why God should choose someone else.
Yet, the Lord sees something amazing in us, something He can use for His glory, just as He did in these biblical leaders.
—Moses wasn't a great communicator, organizer or administrator, but God overlooked his flaws and called him to lead a nation.
—David was the runt of his family, and no one saw him as a future leader. Yet God saw something great in the shepherd boy and knew he would be a man after His own heart.
—Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba all were included in the genealogy of Jesus, in spite of some very dark pages in their past.
—Paul described himself as "a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man" (1 Tim. 1:13), as well as the chief of sinners (see verse 15). Despite all this, Paul said, "[the Lord] counted me faithful and appointed me to the ministry" (verse 12) through His abundant grace.
If God could use people like this in a powerful way, in spite of their shortcomings, surely He can use you as well. Like many leaders in the Bible, we may have plenty of excuses why God should choose someone else. Yet the Lord sees something in us, something He can use for His glory.
With the power of the resurrected Christ in us, we are able to live in victory and fulfill every assignment God gives us!
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.
Note: portions of this article extrapolated from the book Leadership Awakening by Doug Stringer.
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