I often meet Christian writers who feel inadequate for the task, and I’ve felt it myself. Sometimes, other people crush our spirits because they, too, think we’re inadequate and they say so.
Today, I prayed about what’s next for Gracewriters on my morning walk, and returned to my Bible, pen and paper… and a tumbling avalanche of thoughts. It was like God had turned on the mental firehose.
Let’s take a look at just a few of his chosen messengers and their moments of insecurity.
NOTE: By comparing the experience of these great leaders of the past, I’m not saying we should think of ourselves as giants of the faith who should be remembered forever. That’s the opposite of the point. We’re looking at what God can do with people who don’t feel like they are “enough”.
Too young or too old?
Paul told Timothy not to let anyone look down upon him because he was young. I doubt he’d have needed to say it if Timothy hadn’t been getting pushback because of his youth. Paul urged Timothy to exercise his God-given gift, because he could still make a difference – and to do it in the context of a life of purity and godliness. (1 Timothy 4:12-16)
Among the many things Moses was worried about when he was called to be God’s messenger, we’re not told specifically how he felt about his age. But we do know he was 80 when he started his life’s work. It must have been an exhausting job for a senior citizen to lead thousands of squabbling people through the wilderness for 40 years.
He felt desperately inadequate at the start (see Exodus 3-4 and the segment below) but in God’s strength, he delivered the message and completed the task.
Not skilled enough?
Jeremiah’s eyes were initially on how ill-qualified he was to be a messenger.
4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:4-9, NIV)
God shifted Jeremiah’s perspective from Jeremiah’s knowledge and words (which was leading to fear) to God’s knowledge and words (which led to resolute purpose).
At the burning bush, Moses had quite a conversation with God about his insecurities. Here are a couple of snippets.
3:10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. …
4:10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” (Exodus 3:10-12a, 4:10-13, NIV)
God got a bit cross with Moses at this point … but note that he forgave him and still used him in this task.
He sent his brother Aaron to lock arms with Moses as together they ventured into the fray. Later, he raised up more supporters for Moses – including among others his sister Miriam, his father-in-law Jethro, Hur, Joshua and Caleb.
We carry God’s precious treasure in jars of clay, but God is strong enough, and he has the right words, and he has a plan.
Paul had an early career in persecuting Christians, and signed many death warrants, so that people were afraid to approach him after his conversion. He was also criticised and undermined for being in and out of jail…
…and he took the gospel to the world and wrote a big slab of the New Testament.
King David basically took out a hit on a man whose wife he’d seduced, and there were abundant consequences both before and after his confession and restoration…
….but God still used him as both national leader and poet/songwriter.
Isaiah, when confronted with a stupendous vision of God’s throneroom, realises how small and weak he is.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:5-8, NIV)
And, oh my, did God send him! Among the many things God led Isaiah to achieve in His name is one of the most glorious and inspiring pieces of writing from the ancient world.
What to do next?
Clearly, if we’re feeling inadequate for the task of being God’s messenger, we’re in very good company extending back over the past several millenia.
Perhaps try these two things:
- If you think you might be called to be a Gracewriter (a Christian who writes to change popular culture), but you’re not sure, tell God honestly how you feel. And then say: “Here am I. Send me.” See what he does with you. The answer will become clearer over time. And remember that God is amazing so we don’t have to be.
- Look for opportunities to walk alongside or encourage other Gracewriters, like Paul did for Timothy and Aaron did for Moses. Not only will this help them get their job done, it will shift your focus from your own inadequacies to the possibilities.
Sue Lambert says
Thank you Belinda for taking time to seek out the truth of God’s word and bring encouragement to fellow writers. I know at times I personally felt inadequate writing my memoir as it was my first writing attempt. Wonderful to reflect upon the transformative work of God despite our insecurities. May we always remember that it is “Christ in us” that strengthens us for the task and bravely keep writing to reveal His love to a broken world.
Belinda Pollard says
Thank you so much, Sue. I think there’s power in sharing our experiences with other Gracewriters. Once we realise that the feelings of inadequacy are common to all, we can be released from them, to a certain extent. Those feelings are not the overall truth of the situation. x
Bill Brockmeier says
This is a wonderfully candid (and thorough) look at what can sometimes prevent us from being useful in God’s plans for our creative lives. In earlier stages of my “serious” writing career, I often struggled (and sometimes still do) with these thoughts. But these days, it seems I wrestle more with the associated questions of: is what I am writing “adequate?”—is it “Christian” enough?—is it too “edgey” for some people’s comfort?—does it have significance beyond the merely temporal?
Belinda Pollard says
The thing about edges, Bill, is that they are by nature sharp and uncomfortable – sometimes even for the writer. I’m not sure it’s a Gracewriter’s role, though, to make anyone comfortable (as I’m sure you’re already aware). Sometimes we have a role in providing godly comfort, but that’s quite different to making people comfortable and complacent. Keep wrestling with God on those big questions about your writing!
Glennis Paine says
Very encouraging. A great reminder that God uses people of all ages and stages.
Belinda Pollard says
He absolutely does, Glennis, and I’m so thankful. 🙂
Dawn Dicker says
Such an encouraging reminder, Belinda! God uses humans in His work of loving transformation — not only giants of the faith, but all who are faithful.
Belinda Pollard says
That is such a beautiful way of putting it, Dawn. Thank you!