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Self-Doubt in Ministry

If success is based on what we know well, self-doubt is an area I could excel! Consider this exchange:

“Cynthia, I’d like you to consider becoming our church’s Children’s Ministry Director,” my Pastor said to me years ago.

“I don’t know if I’ve got the right personality for the job,” I replied. “I’m not an extrovert who goes around with a chicken hanging out of her pocket.”

“Then you need to find those kinds of people to partner with you,” he responded. “What we need at this point in time is a leader who can pull the loose ends together and rally everyone in children’s ministry behind a common purpose.”

“Well,” I replied with hesitation, “that does describe the desires God laid on my heart.”  

And the rest is history . . .

I mention this conversation because so many of us (Sunday School superintendents, VBS teachers, music leaders, puppeteers, even pastors) are prone to imagining the qualities a perfect leader must have, and we see only our deficiencies in comparison. We fear we don’t have what it takes.

There are plenty of biblical examples to keep us company. In these dialogues, note the gap between God’s perspective and those He called.

  • Moses: ”They will not believe me or listen to my voice. . . . I am not eloquent. . . . I am slow of speech and of tongue.” (Exodus 4:1–10)
  • God: “I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10)
  • Gideon (hiding in a winepress): “I am the least in my father's house.” (Judges 6:15)
  • God: “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor. . . . Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian.” (Judges 6:12, 14)
  • Jeremiah: “I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” (Jeremiah 1:6)
  • God: “I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

I am so encouraged by these conversations. Several things grab my attention.

God sees beyond the present circumstance. His invitation to lead is guided by His vision for the future. He sees our potential because He is by our side, ready to equip and fill us with His authority. God sees the capacity in reluctant Moses, insecure Gideon, timid Jeremiah, and in you and me, to become men and women who step out in faith.

We, on the other hand, can be bound by the present and stifled by fear. The known is comfortable; God’s call is not. A choice is imminent—will fear or faith guide our response?

Perhaps the weak vessels God selects are precisely those He needs because we humbly know we must rely on His strength and direction. After all, it’s all about God, not ourselves.

God certainly uses our strengths in His service, and He celebrates the victories. But He uses our weaknesses as well, because in them we must depend on His working in and through us. The ultimate strength we carry to our life’s work is Christ—Christ in me and I in Him.

Written by

Cynthia Brown

Cynthia Brown is the Director of Christian Education at St. Augustine Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan. She also serves as an adjunct professor of family life at Concordia University Ann Arbor.

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