Updated: Sep 26, 2020
When I described my new position as OIM’s Youth Program Coordinator to a close family friend, a Professor of Social Work at a local university, she said to me, “You’re not exactly what organizations are looking for as a youth worker!” Ouch!
But her comment is completely fair. For those who haven’t met me, she’s absolutely right! I’m 57 years old, balding, grey hair, pushing the scales toward being a bit overweight, not terribly street-smart, no social services credentials, living in the suburbs with my wife and three young-adult children…going into work with STREET-ENGAGED YOUTH! You get the picture. I’m not the young, energetic, buff, street-wise, credentialed young-person who provides a peer-relationship with young people that many social service professionals would think is desirable for this role. For many organizations, I would probably be the LAST candidate that they would consider.
Many of you might even be thinking as you read this, “What in the world is OIM thinking hiring this guy?” Yet, the leadership at OIM and I, along with my wife and many others who support me, are confirming this is indeed the Lord’s calling on my life at this time.
So, what is God up to? Why me? Wouldn’t someone else make more sense? Someone younger? More energetic? With the “right” credentials?
You might also feel that you don’t have the right abilities, the right skills, the right credentials, the right look or the confidence to be used by God in significant ways. But God’s calling seldom has to do with external factors, nor with what we might deem as being logical or important from human considerations.
“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7b)
I know that I’m in good company when it comes to the Lord picking unlikely candidates to do His work! Think of the stuttering, cowardly Moses, going up against one of the most powerful men of the then-known world. Or Gideon’s small army, a mere 300, going up against the vast army of the Midianites. Consider the young shepherd David, chosen above his older, better-qualified brothers to be King of Israel and to be the young victor over the giant warrior Goliath. Or the rag-tag group of Jesus’ twelve disciples, who were religious rejects – fishermen, a despised tax man, a zealot and others not highly thought of – who, by the Holy Spirit, turned the world upside-down. The Apostle Paul actually feverishly worked against Jesus’ followers, helping to imprison and put to death many who believed in Christ – an unlikely candidate to be chosen to become one of the very people that he previously persecuted and carry the Gospel to the Gentiles, greatly impacting the entire planet for over the past 2000 years.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
This is a repeated pattern throughout the Scriptures - the Lord chooses the weak and the unlikely to demonstrate His glory, so that HIS goodness, HIS grace, HIS loving-kindness and HIS provision come shining through! Because of our weaknesses, when something amazing happens, we have no choice but to say, “The Lord did this!” and not “look what I did”.
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:25-29)
By no means do I compare myself to the great people in Biblical history, but I take great comfort that my age, external appearance and lack of sought-after credentials are not what the Lord looks at.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I encourage you to seek and listen to what God is calling YOU to do, and to be obedient to His calling even if it doesn’t make sense from a worldly perspective.
Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. (2 Corinthians 9:13 )
I encourage you to be bold and courageous! I encourage you to seek godly counsel from others in affirmation of your calling. I encourage you not to shy away from challenges. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone, for God has not called us to be comfortable.
Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
If God is truly calling you to do what seems to be impossible or improbable, HE will surely provide the strength, courage and resources to fulfill His purposes. We have already seen the Lord’s hand in my calling to this role with OIM, and are continuing to see wonderful opportunities to plant seeds and minister to these wonderful youth. While I am a little terrified of the new situations and challenges that lay before me, I am excited about what the Lord has in store down the road, and comforted that He will be guiding each step of the way.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
~Kevin, Youth Program Coordinator