If you told my 12-year-old self that I would end up being a pastor, you would have been met with doubt and disbelief. If you had told my family the same thing, they would have laughed in your face. The simple fact is that it makes no sense for God to use me in ministry. I would not have chosen myself for this task and mission.
I was a late bloomer. I started talking late and when I did start I didn’t talk well. I had a speech impediment which lingers to this day. While words sound fine in my brain, when they get transmitted to my tongue and mouth they seem to fall apart. Most people don’t realize that I still struggle in this area because I became adept at choosing words that don’t have the combination of syllables that give me trouble. In elementary school, I had learning disabilities and was pulled out of classes for reading and spelling. And while I still can’t spell to save my life, I overcame my troubles reading through sheer force of will.
And on top of all of that, I was deathly shy. And when I say deathly I mean deathly. To talk to strangers was to invite death in my mind. My parents left me at church by mistake one Sunday when I was around 5 years old. I was the youngest of 4 boys and very quiet, so it was an easy mistake to make. They quickly realized what they did, turned around, and were back at church most within 10 minutes. The scene they came to was me hugging a telephone poll screaming as the pastor’s wife tried to coax me inside to wait for my parents. That was my level of shyness. Some of that still lingers to this day, meaning I am not the crazy outgoing charismatic guy which so many expect a pastor to be.
With all of this stacked against me, it would not have been my first or even tenth choice to lead a church and carry forward the mission of God. Yes, I matured and grew, but the effects of where I came from still linger. I am not first draft material. I am not an all-star.
But God chose me. Through the local church, God called me to ministry. Through serving in ministry, God grabbed ahold of my heart and changed the course of my life. Just like in our salvation when we know we contribute nothing and God has done it all, so I know that He chose me to fulfill his mission and He is the one doing the work.
This is the truth that resounds from 2 Corinthians 12:9 when God responds to Paul with “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God chose me not because of how great I am, but to show how great he is. He chose an imperfect vessel so that it would be clear for all to see that God is the one working. That any growth of the church, any changing of people’s hearts, any progression of the kingdom would have to be attributed to him.
And it is in this fact that I should rejoice just as Paul did. I will boast in my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. I will be the loudest voice pointing to how God can use such a wretch like me. If people know and see that God can use me, they can know that God can use them. Because is not about us, but about God and his power and his plan.
I wouldn’t have chosen me, but I am so thankful that God did.