A few weeks ago I listened to an interview with Steven Furtick, the pastor of Elevation Church, about his new book (Un)Qualified: How God Uses Broken People to Do Big Things. Steven is a passionate man, and despite what some of the critics say about him – I actually think he does a great job of bringing Scripture into a modern context and pulling out real value.
As the interview went on, Steven explained the story behind the word he chose to use for the book’s title. Another popular Christian leader was asked what he thought of Furtick and his ministry, and the man summed up his opinion in one word: unqualified. I feel for Steven because I don’t have to imagine that scenario. I’ve been called out, pushed aside, and shut down for being unqualified as well. I understand how frustrating it can be to feel as though you know what you should be doing and yet feeling as though the entire world is pushing back at you for trying to do it. Thankfully, the Bible knows this feeling too.
Just like Furtick, my mind goes to Jacob who would one day be known as Israel. If there was ever someone unqualified to do something great, Jacob was it. He was a liar and manipulator from the start. Short tempered, impatient, and above all selfish. Not many of us would invite Jacob to eat dinner with us, let alone hail him as one of the founders of God’s chosen nation.
But there’s another element to the story that gets missed. Another word which needs to be paired with unqualified if we are going to get the most accurate picture of what it means to be called and led by God into great things. That word is unequipped.
You see, God calls unqualified people every day. He’s been doing it since He put Adam in charge of caring for His creation. He called a boy to become king (David), and another boy to become the kingmaker (Samuel). He called fishermen and widows to start a movement. And now he calls us. He calls us to continue the work of caring and redeeming, of moving and building.
The truth is no one will ever be qualified enough to serve the Living God. Abraham wasn’t qualified even after his decades of trusting God. Paul was unqualified despite all of his training, and then still after meeting the risen Christ face to face. God’s work in the world does not rest on His Children becoming qualified. It rests on them becoming equipped.
Although all of the great characters we read about and look up to were unqualified, they were not unequipped. As Adam took steps in faith towards His calling, God granted him a helper. As Abraham marched towards a land he did not know, God planted in him patience, endurance, and wisdom. David was given men to fight alongside him. Samuel was given a temple to call home. Ruth had Naomi. Esther had Mordecai. The disciples were blessed with the Holy Spirit. And we are no different.
The equipment will look different. The calling will be unfamiliar. But our God is the same God. He calls the unqualified but does not leave them unequipped.
We have everything we need to accomplish the task God has placed before us. It may not look like it – and I can’t remember a time in Scripture when it ever felt like it. But our God already knows what is needed and He has provided.
Matthew 15:33-39 (MSG Excerpt)
His disciples said, “But where in this deserted place are you going to dig up enough food for a meal?”
Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”
“Seven loaves,” they said, “plus a few fish.” At that, Jesus directed the people to sit down. He took the seven loaves and the fish. After giving thanks, he divided it up and gave it to the people. Everyone ate. They had all they wanted.
We have all we need to become and do what God has asked.