1 Peter 4:10-11
10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
If you wanted to impose a cruel form of torture upon me it would be as simple as making me listen to a recording of myself speaking publicly or preaching. Simply thinking about it makes me cringe. Even so, every once in a while on an uneventful Monday morning, I’ll go back and listen to my sermon on Sunday out of curiosity. As soon as I do I am reminded of why I don’t do so more often. Every “um”, “ugh”, stutter and mis-said word is a blaring reminder that I am not really a good public speaker. In fact, if you are looking for a confident, polished public orator you should quickly look elsewhere. That's just not me. It’s easy for insecurity to slip in and for all the reasons for me not to be a preacher begin making their case for me to give up or quit. I have never listened to an entire sermon that I’ve preached from beginning to end, and I don’t think I ever will.
On these harrowing Mondays where I find myself doubting my calling and profession, I have to remind myself I don’t preach because I feel like I am good at it, I preach because God has called me to. Since He, and He alone has called me to preach I will do it with joy and with passion knowing that I am being obedient to the only person whose opinion actually matters. Fully knowing that if I run from my call out of fear or a desire for a more “quiet and comfortable existence” that I am robbing God of the glory He has intended for my life, and missing out on the gratification of doing what I am made to do. So for me, I choose not to listen to myself on Monday mornings, ignore my feelings of insecurity and speaking deficiencies, (that no one really notices anyways) and passionately preach the truth of God’s Word. What I have found is, as I choose to say, “yes” and overcome my fear, He honors the choice and brings an anointing to my preaching that has literally nothing to do with me and my finite skills as a speaker. What a gracious God. Saying “yes” to God despite yourself is a sure fire way to walk in His glory.
Sometimes God chooses to pour out unusual grace and gifting’s on people, not because they are more qualified, but simply because they are the only ones who will continually say “yes”. Take the story of Samson in Judges 13-16. If you just look at Samson’s life and choices at a glance, you’ll find that there is very little that qualifies Him as God’s man to be Israel's deliverer. Even still God chose Samson, and then graced him, simply because there was no one else willing to do what needed to be done. Or, Jacob the deceiver, or Gideon the coward, or any of the heroes of the Bible, aside from Jesus. The one redeeming aspect they all shared, was simply saying “yes” to God despite who they were in the world.
I have found in my short years on earth, that if you are going to authentically walk with God and do great things in His name then you will most certainly face these obstacles.
1. You are going to walk in places you are not qualified to be.
2. The odds are constantly stacked against you, and it rarely makes sense from a human point of view.
3. You’ll be surrounded by critics and complainers that are expert witnesses to your many shortcomings.
The only thing that I have found to consistently move me forward, despite these obstacles, is to remember who I am saying “yes” to. It’s simple obedience to Jesus, that unlocks the joy, grace, endurance, and persistence needed to continue on. It’s simple obedience that empowers my very human words and efforts to have an eternal impact on people when I preach.
The same is applicable for your life. When you let go of the safe, quiet, and predictable, you then qualify yourself to begin building the Kingdom of God. Letting go of how you see yourself and what you think you need, frees you up for the adventure of saying “yes” to God. It’s scary to think that there are business owners who will never open their business, preachers who will never publicly preach, and leaders who will never lead, because they are too focused on their shortcomings. When the very human, but blood bought followers of Christ, don’t follow their callings from God we all suffer. It’s something I think about often. What are we as a body missing out on because someone among us is afraid to say “yes” to God’s call? Is there something that I am withholding from God’s people for lack of confidence in God’s call for my life? I know that to some degree I will always fall short of my call because I am chained to my un-awareness and fallen humanity. Even still I refuse to be held hostage by insecurities in my life that I am aware of.
I know that in no way will I leave a life of perfection in my wake when I graduate from this life. My hope is that when people remember me they simply see a real man who unashamedly followed Jesus to the best of His ability. Someone, who more times than not, said “yes” despite himself and all the odds.
As your Pastor, I am telling you that your Church, your family and your city desperately need you to get over yourself and do what God has called you to do. So do it. I’m cheering you on, and I’ll be there to support you when things get tough and don't make sense at times.
I look forward to watching God glorify himself and change the world around you through your simple and obedient yes…