Interestingly, the Bible only talks about leadership a small number of times. However, it talks about servanthood frequently. So why are there so many leadership conferences for Christians, rather than servanthood conferences?
My first thought is, “Because nobody would go to a conference on how to be a servant!” (That’s worth thinking about, wouldn’t you agree?)
God delights in using the unlikely—the people who wouldn’t even think about taking the credit or seeking the grandeur for themselves. He used the Magi, not Herod. He used fishermen, not Pharisees. He used a murderer and tentmaker (Paul) to write the New Testament epistles, not a mega-church pastor.
Of course, God can use anyone, and there are examples of people who are “great” in this world also having an open heart and being used of the Lord. But I do think the Scriptures illustrate that He tends toward the unlikely.
And He tells us why: “. . . to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27). God is saying, “I want to use things that surprise the world and point them to Me. That’s why I like to use weak and unlikely people!”
So, if the Enemy ever whispers, “You’re such a loser!” don’t be discouraged. In Philippians 3:8, Paul wrote, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I . . . count [all my earthly indicators of greatness] as rubbish.”
To the Corinthians, who were wrapped up in “Which popular preacher are you following?” conversations (1 Cor. 3), he wrote, “Consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise . . . powerful . . . of noble birth” (1 Cor. 1:26). These were people who changed the course of the world, but the apostle Paul says, “Let’s be honest, you aren’t the brightest people around.” Almost insulting, right?
But then he explains: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; … to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (vv. 27-29).
We live in an era when many well-known and influential people, and even entire ministries, are crumbling at the seams because of character failures. Our hearts should break over those things when we read or hear about them.
And I suspect that many of these tragic stories began when someone wasn’t taking this simple passage seriously. Instead, men and women started thinking they were “something,” when in reality, all ministers are forever and only God’s servants.
In God’s kingdom, the greatest people who have ever lived aren’t the sort who looked at themselves and said, “I want to be great!” Think of Moses and Mary, two examples of people God called who did extraordinary things.
Moses wanted to quit before he even started, telling God, “I can’t even talk, and You want to use ME?!” And can you imagine being Mary, a pregnant teenage girl in Nazareth? She must have wondered, “Your plan is WHAT, God?”
God used people like them. And if we approach Him with humility, He will use us too, as unlikely as that seems.
John Avant is the president of Life Action.