I recently spoke in church. Like…big-people church. Not children’s church or Sunday School or the nursery.
It’s about as insane a claim as my slam-dunking over Shaq. At the start of the year I’d have given greater odds to becoming LeBron Tom than Pastor Tom.
But God’s been challenging me this year. Calling me out of isolation and irrelevance and into insane levels of courage.
The last couple months especially have brought me further out of fear, but I still battle that mucky pit of worthlessness.
After all, I’m just an introverted scared kid in a young adult’s body — a body which, frankly, looks more “kid” than “adult” anyway.
What purpose can I possibly serve humanity?
Last summer with YouthWorks, I broke down repeatedly. Was convinced I could not effectively meet with ministry partners. Could not effectively relate to kids. Certainly could not effectively stand on a stage and effectively speak before those same kids.
I became convinced I could not properly perform any facet of my job whatsoever: not the relational aspect, not the logistical aspect, not any aspect. Surely my replacement would be much more suited and capable and worthy.
I was not suited. I was not capable. I was not worthy.
And yet by summer’s end, all of those lies were trounced. It was life-changing.
Truthfully though, I hear those same unworthy whispers again stirring in my soul as I prepare for a summer of camp-counseling in North Carolina:
I won’t be as goofy or exciting as the other counselors.
Definitely won’t be as athletic.
Or musical. Or spiritual. Or cool.
I have nothing to offer these kids. I’m just some introverted dude who somehow got hired to work in a clearly more extroverted environment.
I know I’m not the most athletic guy around. Can’t play the guitar like a cool campfire hipster. Am not nearly as outgoing as others.
Despite the unworthy whispers, I’m reminded of the encouragement I’ve received from others over the last year:
You’re a team player.
You have a gentle spirit.
You’re a great listener.
You’re bold and brave.
You are loved.
When I shared my testimony in church the other week without stuttering or stumbling or dry-heaving whatsoever, I knew the unexplainable explanation: I didn’t do that. There’s just no way I’m that eloquent and comfortable on a stage.
God did it. His Spirit clearly spoke through me that night.
The fact that I feel so unqualified and unworthy for this job means that God will indeed, again, receive the unexplainable explanation when I do successfully complete this job in August.
I now know firsthand that in my weakness, God delights in being strong. That in my unworthiness, God adores making me worthy.
In the midst of our unlovable pits, He loves to love us.
I’d treasure your prayers this summer. That I wouldn’t forget the miracles of this last year. That I’d trust the same God who did miracles last summer to do miracles again this summer.
That further, this summer wouldn’t be all about me, all about simply surviving. That the Spirit would be alive and moving in these precious kids, and that I wouldn’t dare take any of the credit for myself.
The Spirit is a powerful thing.
But the Spirit in me?
Just look out, Shaq. I’m coming for you with a charge into the paint and an alley-oop to the bank.
Or I dunno, something like that. Baseball’s more my sport.