I graduated from the university seeing myself as a failure. I had come out with a poor result, a 3rd class, to be precise. Before then, I was one of the top students in my set all through secondary school. University, however, was a different ball game. I found the course challenging, my GPA was not so good, and I even wanted to switch to a different programme entirely. Eventually, I had to endure an extra semester, and finally completed the course with a 3rd class.
This was devastating to me, particularly in a culture where one’s sense of importance is based on one’s accomplishment. What would you do with a 3rd class? Even those with a 2.1 are still struggling to succeed.
Over the years, however, I have come to understand that my value does not depend on what I accomplish or don’t accomplish. I am loved by God enough to have had his son die in my place. I am valued enough to have been adopted into God’s own family. I am precious enough to have been called to work in advancing his kingdom on earth, despite my failures. God’s creation and calling are what define me.
I have learnt that God does not call us based on how good or competent we think we are. He does it based on his sovereign plans for our lives. Moses protested that he wasn’t suitable for the task of leading the Israelites, yet God saw him as adequate. How could a little inexperienced slave provide leadership over the mighty Egyptian nation in a time of crisis? Yet that was what Joseph did. Who would have expected a poor shepherd boy to be the one to fell Goliath? What role could a murdering Pharisee play in advancing the message of the gospel? To cap it all, who could have thought that the unjust death of a godly teacher would be the means by which God redeemed his broken universe and broke the power of Satan?
God specialises in the unthinkable. He delights in confounding the wise, taking unsuspecting detours in accomplishing precisely what is needed. We need not worry too much about what we have failed at in the past. We need not ponder so much about our ‘weakness’, ‘lack of qualifications’, or even ‘past failures’. The question must always be: “What do I sense I am being called to do?” Once you have some idea what that is (it’s hardly ever crystal clear at the beginning), then go on with it, trusting him for assistance and direction each step of the way.
You were not trained for it in school? No problem. Learn all you can now. You’ve had no prior experience? No problem. You are already building the experience with every step you take in that direction. Focus on the task. Keep at it. Let it wake you up every morning.
I have learned that it is not your qualification that counts, but your purpose. When you find it, you find yourself.