I believe all of us who serve in ministry feel inadequate from time to time. I surely do. Sometimes I reflect on the Apostle Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 2:16b—“And who is sufficient for these things?” Clearly, Paul felt a sense of inadequacy in regard to the responsibilities he bore. We would all join Paul in asking this question: Who is truly sufficient?
Our church members assume we are masters of all aspects of ministry; after all, we graduated from the seminary. The reality is that we are typically good at some things, poor at others, and get by on the rest. I do fine with preaching and teaching, but I feel my counseling and administrative skills are truly deficient. Even in preaching, I have never preached on the grace of God and went home saying, “Well, I surely covered that topic well this morning.” Rather, I go home thinking, “I wish I could have described God’s grace more clearly and eloquently.”
I sometimes marvel that God chose me to serve in the ministry. I realize that God knows me better than I know myself. Still, I know my sins and shortcomings, and I would not choose myself. There must be lots of guys of better character and giftedness than me. Many biblical characters experienced similar feelings. In his burning bush encounter with God Moses protested that he was not a good speaker. Jeremiah exclaimed that he was too young. Amos testified that he was not a prophet, just a shepherd, “then the Lord took me” (Amos 7:14, NKJV).
When I question my ability to serve the Lord, He reminds me He can use anyone, however weak or flawed, to accomplish His divine purposes. In the Great Commission, Jesus ordered His disciples to make disciples of all the nations. I’m sure they found that command quite challenging, but Jesus gave them this assurance. He declared, “I will be with you always” (Matt 28:20). When Jesus spoke to his disciples in the upper room, He told them that He was about to leave them. No doubt the disciples felt anxious on hearing that. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Why did Jesus say that? Clearly, the disciples felt troubled and fearful. Then, Jesus hastened to assure them that He would send them the Holy Spirit to help them. So, when we feel overwhelmed, the presence of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit can buoy our spirits.
Beyond, these assurances, we can be comforted that we are not alone. The prayers of God’s people strengthen and sustain us. It is a comfort and a blessing to know that our members pray for us. When I served as a senior pastor, I often reminded my members to pray for me. I told them, “You get what you pray for.” Also, we ministers should pray for each other. This morning a dear missionary friend and colleague called with a personal prayer request. By praying for each other we can “bear one another’s burdens.”
Paul asked the question—Who is sufficient for these things? Then later in 2 Corinthians, he answered his own question. In 3:5 he writes, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” And, in 12:9—“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
When you feel discouraged and inadequate (like me), just remember that God works in and through weak servants to accomplish His work in the world.