What Do You Do When You Feel Afraid Of Your Calling?

You know the feeling: God places a burden on your heart so big that it’s almost all you can think about.  You rationalize: it seems too big that you don’t know where to begin, so it must have been indigestion and not the Lord.  

Or you know you heard God loud and clear, but you’ve run into some obstacles and setbacks, so you’re afraid to move forward, doubting your abilities.  

What about resistance?  You’ve vocalized your idea and others have wrinkled their noses.  Do you forge ahead or do you shrink back?

Do you shy away from things that are difficult?

 

Matthew 25: 14-30

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them.  To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.  The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more.  So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.  But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.  The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’  His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’  His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?  Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.  For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.  And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (NIV, but not the best version of the NIV because it uses the words, “bags of gold,” which I’m not sure carries the same weight as the original).

I’ve often wondered why the master in this passage got so irate.  His reaction seems to be an overreaction.  Then during a Bible Study at my church it leaped off the page!  

The master was angry because he had determined that each of these servants had the ability to handle what he had given them but the last one didn’t have enough faith in the master to believe that the master knew what he was doing in assigning the “bag of gold.”  

He was also angry because the servant was afraid.  The servant was afraid of what he would lose and so he hid.  Now it makes sense and it requires a lot from us.  

THREE THINGS OF NOTE:

1)           God has given all of us certain gifts and abilities.  He has equipped us uniquely and has set us down in this specific generation.  We have an obligation to use those gifts and abilities for His Kingdom.  When we don’t we’re acting in disobedience.  Burying it takes the talent for granted.  We can’t even downplay our gifts and abilities because when we do we demonstrate doubt in God’s sovereignty.  We don’t allow for others’ lives to be changed by what God has done in our lives.  By doing so, we run the risk of squelching the gospel.

2)           God has equipped us with certain gifts.  It could be money, teaching, hospitality, prayer, art, writing, perseverance, faith, love…etc.  “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17 NIV).”  God does not make mistakes.  He chose you and gave you the exact gifting He wanted you to have.   If you don’t have faith in your own abilities at least have enough courage to believe in a God – the God of the Universe who made everything – that knows what He is doing when He bestows gifts.  He sees your potential and your true identity.  He calls you to use those abilities.  He has entrusted you with those talents in order that you can further His kingdom.  He knows what you are capable of and when you refuse to recognize your abilities as He has created you and use them for His glory, you can’t expect to get patted on the head as a good and faithful servant.  

What faith is required when you hide from your talents?  

There's no faith required to remain status quo. Click To Tweet

Faith is ignited when we put our trust in the One who made us and say, “Lord, I feel inadequate, ill-equipped and rather fraud-like.  Someone else undoubtedly could do this better than I, but I am choosing to trust in Your calling and provision.  You have told me to, ‘Go,’ so I am going.  You promised to be with me every step of the way and to never leave me.  You have given me gifts and abilities and while I don’t think I’m good enough and I don’t think I’m the one for the job, I’m choosing to trust in You that You know what you’re doing!  Increase my faith.”

3)        The wicked servant was also afraid.  We don’t have to be afraid to put ourselves out there and start cultivating and using our gifts.  God’s power is manifested in our weaknesses!  When we are weak, He is strong.  2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “‘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 (NIV).”

He can fill in the gaps and make the end product so much more complete than we could have ever done, even with our best efforts.  

When we let go of fear of failure or exposure we can live in the freedom that we are children of God endowed by our creator with certain gifts to be used specifically for furthering the Kingdom.  

Your fear is not of the Lord.  1 John 4:18 says, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.  If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love (NLT).”  God’s love can wipe the fear away that we experience when we think of judgment, but it also can irradiate the fears we have of failing, belittlement and hardship.

We do not give this free advice lightly.  We are in the exact same boat as you.  Our whole journey has been one of obedience and prayer.  

  • Prayer that God would fill in the glaring gaps.  
  • Prayer that God would sustain us even if we were too weak to sustain ourselves.  
  • Prayer that God would multiply our meager efforts.  
  • Prayer that His perfection would shine through our overwhelming imperfection.  

All the while being open to recognizing the gifts and talents God has given my biological mother and I and then starting to use them as an act of obedience.  We are putting one foot in front of the other, peeking around the corner at what is to come – God revealing only what needs to be revealed.  It is nerve-wracking but it is also essential to the Christian life.  

You and I are made uniquely for this moment in time.

If you have gifts and talents and you have put them on the back burner, I would encourage you to start exploring where God would have you dig up those gifts and expose them.  

Where can you start using them for the Lord?  We’d LOVE to hear what some of your gifts are and where you think you could plug them in.  Leave a comment and let us know how you’re going to start to use your talents!

Do not be like the wicked servant and sit on your gifts, talents, and abilities out of fear.  If you hide your gifts or do not take the risk you're being disobedient. It takes faith and courage, to freely say that you don't have faith or courage in yourself, but in the One who created you and entrusted you with those gifts. Click To Tweet   

2 thoughts on “What Do You Do When You Feel Afraid Of Your Calling?

  1. Katherine Harms says:

    Not long ago, I visited my pastor to discuss starting a Bible study. Actually, I was trying to start one study in two parallel sessions, to allow people choices around lifestyle issues. During the conversation, my pastor asked me to pray about being a pastor. I was dumbfounded. Being a pastor was, and is, not a comfortable concept for me. I agreed to pray, then returned after a couple of months to discuss another matter.
    I tediously explained to him that I did not feel I could possibly be a pastor, and I explained why. His response was to hand me a printout of seminary options. I could study online. I could work and study and serve. Then he said, “Please continue to pray.”
    I do pray. I pray with my husband. He prays. I pray. The whole issue seems to be building, yet I still find my greatest fulfillment and personal reward in teaching, not preaching. I am either terrified of many of the duties of a pastor or horrified at the thought I would have to do many other duties. I thought that when I opened myself to be obedient, God would be pleased, but I am very nervous about the prospects of being a pastor.
    Your post outlines my problem very neatly. I really do have a lot to pray about now.

    • Erica says:

      Hey, Katherine!
      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on our blog post! I see you have a lot to pray about! I’ve been praying about this and praying for a way to respond to you as well.

      If I can be an encouragement to you at all: I wouldn’t discount your initial trepidation about being a pastor. It seems like you may have the gift of discernment and I really believe that your initial hesitation is warranted. I am not of the camp that believes in women pastors. I studied it ad nauseam at Calvin while taking my gender studies courses (they had just opened up that minor and I was toying around with pursuing it). Some of my best friends and I disagree (lovingly!) on the topic, but I believe Scripture is clear about women’s roles in the church. God gave you a heart to teach, it seems. He also gave you a desire for prayer and research. I would place a lot of weight in that initial pause.

      Your calling and gifting will never contradict Scripture. While we do not understand why God does not call women into church leadership, it’s not our understanding that’s most important. I don’t feel devalued in this. It is just another one of those areas where God’s design is God’s design. Just like differences between males and females and the importance of fighting for traditional marriage. It doesn’t seem “fair” to some, but God is the God of order and if I can trust that He’s got my eternal salvation under control, it is easier for me to trust Him in hot-button topics such as this.

      Along with praying, I’d look it up in Scripture and let that be your ultimate guide. I talked a lot about feeling in this email, but you know as well as I that feelings can be deceptive and aren’t authoritative. Scripture is. But I know you know that already (I checked out your site! It’s great!).

      It seems to me that God might be nudging you in the direction you were originally pursuing. He laid it on your heart to conduct a Bible study. There’s a reason He wanted you to start a Bible study with two different meeting times. What did you guys end up studying? I’d love to know!

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