I suppose your question is natural. As you think about your growing sense that God is calling you to full-time Christian service you can’t be blamed for asking “Why ME?”
But will it hurt your feelings if I tell you that the question is not very helpful?
You wonder what is so special about you that makes it possible that God has called you. What if the answer were simply “Nothing!”?
That is, what if God called you because of something about God?
- Something inscrutable
- Something mysterious
- But something having nothing to do with you personally?
Take a look at the people God calls in Scripture: Start with Moses and Mary.
Moses is clearly chosen by God to lead.
But he didn’t look too promising: He had murdered a man and fled the country to save his own skin. When God got his attention, speaking from a bush burning on a mountainside, Moses turned him down. He wasn’t a good speaker. He was afraid. Frankly didn’t want the job.
- God promises to be with Moses.
- Nothing else is needed.
Despite his criminal record and outright refusal, God used Moses to bring Israel out of its 400 year long slavery in Egypt.
I suppose it is also true that Moses had some advantages God could use: being raised in Pharaoh’s household must have given him the education, cultural habits, and relationships that made it possible to become a shaker and mover in Egyptian society.
Mary is probably the better example.
Scripture tells us almost nothing about the young woman whom God chose to bear the savior of the world.
Before the Angel arrived we know precisely three facts:
- She was a virgin.
- She was engaged.
- She lived in Nazareth.
Not rich; not powerful; not known for her achievements or accomplishments. To all outward appearances, ordinary.
Then the Angel comes and tells us the two crucial new facts behind God’s choice of her for the most crucial role in the entire drama of salvation:
- God is pleased with her.
- God is present with her.
She is not chosen because of being special. She is chosen because God chose her.
- Like Moses, she is going to be able to fulfill her calling because God will be with her.
- Beyond that, nothing is needed.
I could cite quite a lot of biblical examples actually, starting with Apostles whose qualification for God’s global mission was a background in fishing.
The point is, God uses ordinary people.
Fight the temptation of thinking God’s call indicates special hidden greatness. Down that road lies pride–the kind of pride that creates deep problems.
Actually it is something I’ve seen a lot in candidates for ministry as they explore their sense of call. I’ve given it a name:
I call it “Specialness A.”
I remember one conversation in particular. I’d said how important it was to realize that God calls ordinary people, not special people. No matter how strongly I emphasized the point, the response was the same.
I know, but I just can’t figure out how I could be so special that God would call me!
Ministry is about obediently doing the will of Someone Else, so that we can help other people find life and flourish. Both of these things require humility.
Having a well-grounded sense of who you are as a person, as a Christian, and as a minister is very important. But if you base your confidence on some inherent specialness it is not helpful.
- Your attention will be on nurturing that inner specialness rather on obeying God or serving others.
- Or you will obey God and serve others to reinforce your sense of your inner specialness.
Either way, down the road it isn’t pretty. It doesn’t last. It doesn’t give life.
Being special does not add evidence that your call is legit.
If you are called by the God we meet in the Bible, you are called because God is special.
God brings out the gifts that God himself has given to ordinary people. Even as you discover gifts for ministry you end up thanking and praising God as the giver.
There is a joyful freedom in belonging to God because of God’s free love in Christ.
- It frees us up to love and obey God because of who God is.
- And it frees us to love others with the depth and integrity that draws them, ultimately, to God rather than to us.
Calling this “Specialness A” implies, of course, that there is also a “Specialness B.” I’ll save that for another time.
Need a way to get to know the God we meet in the Bible? Click the button and I’ll send you a free copy of my book Love Your Bible: Finding Your Way to the Presence of God with a 12th Century Monk.
(By the way, those are affiliate links up there to Malcolm Gladwell’s amazing books.)