The feeling of inadequacy is all too common in today’s culture. With social media putting lives on display, it’s much easier to envy others’ lives that seem more glamorous. The imposter syndrome plagues many working professionals, and even the most successful executives feel they are unworthy of their accomplishments.
In missions, Christ followers are not immune to feeling inadequate. When God calls us to play a role in the Great Commission, our insecurities tend to bubble to the surface. Many of us feel inexperienced, unqualified, too young, too old, or simply not good enough to be used by God to take the gospel to the nations.
Throughout history, God’s people have often felt ill-equipped to do what God had called them to do. Yet the Lord has used even the most insecure people to accomplish great things for the kingdom.
When God wanted to take the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, he called on Moses to lead his people. Moses was not ready for the task.
“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Moses asked (Exodus 3:11). “What if they do not believe me or listen to me?” (Exodus 4:1).
God showed Moses wondrous signs—turning his staff into a serpent and making his hand leprous and back to normal again. But Moses remained unconvinced.
“Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10, emphasis added).
Many believers freeze when it comes to sharing the gospel for fear of saying the wrong thing. Just talking to a stranger on the street can be frightening. Moses wasn’t told to talk to just any stranger; he was told to approach Pharaoh, the leader of all of Egypt.
But God didn’t tell Moses to go alone. “I will be with you,” God said (Exodus 3:12). “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (Exodus 4:12).
We should be prepared to share the gospel when the opportunity arises (1 Peter 3:15). At the same time, we should remember that God is with us in every conversation, sovereignly working in both us and those we encounter.
When Midian oppressed the Israelites, God chose a man named Gideon to save his people. An angel came to Gideon, calling him a “mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12) and saying, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14).
“‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family’” (Judges 6:15, emphasis added).
Sometimes, we may feel too weak—physically, spiritually, or emotionally—to participate in God’s mission. But God often uses the weak to display his strength. His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
In Gideon’s case, the Lord promised, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive” (Judges 6:16).
Weakness is just an opportunity for God to be glorified through those who faithfully follow him. When you feel too weak to respond to the Lord’s calling, rely on his strength to carry on.
I’m too young / I’m too old
During the reign of Josiah, God came to Jeremiah and told him that he had appointed him to be a prophet even before he was born. Jeremiah’s response was similar to Moses’ with one key difference: “‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young‘” (Jeremiah 1:6, emphasis added).
When Jeremiah said he was “too young,” he was likely no older than seventeen. In many places today, that’s not old enough to legally be considered an adult. Moses, on the other hand, was eighty when God appeared to him, which is when many people are already living in retirement.
But age makes no difference to God. If he made Sarah a mother at age ninety, he can do anything through anyone at any age.
“But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:7–8).
Age cannot stand in the way of God using you. Whether he calls you at age seventeen or age eighty, he can still do great things through you.
“Our adequacy is from God”
When all of these men felt inadequate, God reminded them of a powerful truth: “I will be with you.”
Our shortcomings do not disqualify us from missions because our God is enough. He can take any weakness or inability and turn it into an incredible testimony. If we respond in obedience like Moses, Gideon, and Jeremiah, the Lord will be with us as we take his name to the nations.
“Not that we are adequate in ourselves so as to consider anything as having come from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5 NASB).
This article originally appeared on the East-West blog and is republished with permission.