Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.”
I was out in my front yard when the two young men wheeled up with their too tight helmets and their too long black skinny ties.
I had seen them around the neighborhood on a number of occasions but always in passing and they never seemed to notice me. But now here we were, standing on the sidewalk when the taller of the two introduced himself and immediately began with, “Excuse me, but do you know Jesus?”
Do I know Jesus?
For a moment I thought about lying, I thought about pretending I had never ever heard of the man, just to see what kind of lecture I was going to receive.
But I was tired, and in no mood to be evangelized. So I simply said, “I sure do, and I tell people about him every Sunday, I’m a pastor.”
The two monochromatically dressed missionaries stared at me in disbelief until the smaller one said, “Gee, I thought pastors had to be old.”
It has amazed me how much my age in relation to my vocation is brought up on a regular basis. And, to be perfectly honest, I don’t even look very young. I’m losing my hair and I have a fairly sizable beard.
And yet, there is this strange expectation that to be involved in the duties of pastoral ministry requires a look of weathering!
When called called Jeremiah to his vocation of being a prophet, Jeremiah promptly responded with doubts about his usefulness precisely because of his age. And God hears none of it: “This isn’t about you or your age or your experience; it’s about what I’m going to do through you!”
Throughout my varied experiences in varied churches there is this limiting belief that God can only call certain kinds of people to certain kinds of tasks. Churches want extraverted people leading worship, but they also wanted introverted people to visit them in the hospital. They want young ministers to help bring in young families, but they want old pastors who can work from experience.
In the church, almost more than anywhere else, age is nothing but a number. Time and time again throughout the Bible God calls upon people regardless of their age, or their experience, or even their talents simply because God is the one who will work through them.
Do you feel unqualified for something that’s happening in church? Do you believe your abilities might be best suited elsewhere? Has God called you to something that you think is impossible?
These are important questions, but like Jeremiah, we do well to remember that it’s not really about us; it’s about what God can do through us.