“How can God be calling me when I’m of no use to Him?”

Have you asked this question of God? Have you ever wondered how you can be possibly useful to God when you seem to have no relevant gifts, skills, and experience for the task at hand?

It’s so easy to look around us and compare ourselves with friends, colleagues, and fellow church members, and think: Wow, they’re so good at what they do, no wonder God has called them to do this task. And to then think: Me? How can I be of any use to God?

Some of us might already felt a prompting—or received an invitation—to help out in a ministry in church, to take on more responsibility at work, or to reach out to someone. But then, to have a nagging feeling of doubt and fear that we are not up to the task, and then we will mess it up big-time.

If you’ve felt this, know this: you’re not alone.

Worries of inadequacy and incompetency are felt by many, many people—even those who seem to be successful or are occupying significant posts at work, in church, or elsewhere.

Many who seem confident and self-assured are actually often fearful about how they are doing, and always worrying about whether they are doing enough to justify their position.

If you’re thinking, “Oh, sure, give me a good example”, consider someone whom most people know as a great, charismatic, powerful leader who led more than a million of his countrymen over decades, bringing them through crisis after crisis, and finally taking them to a place of hope and promise.

If you had met Moses before he became such a leader, you might not have recognised him. Despite receiving what must have been one of the clearest signs of being called by God—a voice from a burning bush!—this fearful, reluctant man continued to protest against His calling, giving God reason after reason why he was NOT the man for the job.

Exodus 4:1–10 documents this milestone conversation with God, in which Moses essentially keeps saying:

I’m not good enough.

Who would listen to me?

I don’t have the right skills.

Interestingly, God does not dismiss Moses’ protests summarily. Instead, He takes time to address them. This exchange, and the story of how God would use Moses dramatically and powerfully to deliver His people, offer us insightful lessons on how we can adopt a new perspective of God’s call to us to serve Him:

1. God is in control of our skills

After Moses’ first protest that no-one would listen to him, God’s response was the question: “What is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2)

As it turned out, the answer was: a staff.

What an interesting picture this paints! Moses had a staff in his hand because he was, by profession, a shepherd. It represented his gifting, skill, and experience in taking care of sheep—the very things that God would use to lead His people over the next 40 years.

It is the same with us, isn’t it?

It is tempting to think that whatever we have studied or done in the past is irrelevant to what God is calling us to. But nothing we possess and experience is ever wasted. God, who gives us our gifts, skills, and experience, will also use them for His work.

A missionary who was called into the mission field late in life once wondered how useful his past experience organising political campaigns for his local MP could be. Later, however, he discovered that all this experience was not wasted. “It seemed so ‘secular’, but I realised that the skills of organisation, working with people, convincing people to help, were all useful in the mission field.”

If we ever feel we are not adequately equipped for God’s work, we can take heart that God is in total control of our gifts, skills, and experience. Instead of focusing on our fears of inadequacy, we can learn to trust God to use the gifts that He has given us.

What do we have in our hands? Will we dedicate it to God, so He can use it for His glory?

2. God is in control of our person

God is not only in control of our giftings and skills. He is also in control of our very persons—our character and personality—which He will use for His good work.

If we are ever in doubt whether we are “good enough”, we can hold firm to the truth that God is shaping us to be more and more like that of His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). That would be a character that is holy and pleasing to Him.

This is truly assuring because every part of our person is now under a good, loving God who will do only the best for us. Indeed, God is not so much interested in what we can do for Him, but who we can be for Him. Not only that, it is He will do the hard work of shaping us into what will please Him!

Are you worried about whether you are “good enough” for God’s use? Rest assured—you are, because God himself is making sure of this.

The only thing we need to do, as His disciples, is to willingly submit ourselves to the life-transforming work of the Holy Spirit, who is moulding and shaping us through every experience and every trial we face.

Will we dedicate ourselves to God, so He can mould us?

3. God is in control of the work

As God proceeded to use Moses to speak to Pharoah and tell him to release the Israelites from slavery, He would give miracle after miracle that showed His power and sovereignty over the world and everything in it.

This, again, tells us a reassuring truth: God is not only in control of our tools and ourselves, but also the work itself. Whatever it is that He is sending us to do, He has already paved the way and will ensure that what He means to happen, will happen. He who sends us is in total control of our circumstances and the task at hand.

Jesus echoed the same assurance in John 16:33 when He commissioned His disciples to go forth while warning them of the struggles to come:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Will we trust God, who is in control of the world, to take care of His work to which He sends us to do?

4. God understands our fears

God did not get angry when Moses explained why he was afraid to speak on His behalf. In fact, the Almighty God took time to address Moses’ fears of inadequacy and show him that He would empower and enable him to do His work.

It was only when Moses—after seeing all the miracles—protested, “Send someone else”, that God’s anger burned (vv. 13–14).

God knows our hearts. He understands when we are truly afraid and feeling inadequate, and He is patient when we wrestle with our worries and share them honestly with Him.

All we have to do is to step forward in faith, and be willing to be used by God. He who sends us is in control of our gifts, of our persons, and of the work that He calls us to. He will empower and enable us to do His will and fulfil our calling.

As He told Moses in Exodus 4:11–12:

“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? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

Will you offer yourself to God today? Will you say, “Here I am, O Lord, send me?”

Here’s some questions and challenges we can reflect on as we respond to God’s call to serve Him wherever He has placed us:

  1. What is in our hands? Will we dedicate them to God?
  2. Will we dedicate our entire persons to God, and allow His Spirit to shape us?
  3. Will we look to God for strength, knowing He is sovereign over His own work that He has called us to?

Adapted from a teaching by Robert M. Solomon, former Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore.

Leslie Koh spent more than 15 years as a journalist in The Straits Times before moving to Our Daily Bread Ministries. He’s found moving from bad news to good news most rewarding, and still believes that nothing reaches out to people better than a good, compelling story. He likes eating (a lot), travelling, running, editing, and writing.

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