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Listen while you read: "Lead Kindly Light"1 (Lyrics)
Judges 6:15-16 – He responded, "But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." The Lord said to him, "But I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them." (NRSV)
Have you ever felt God asking you to do something that you were reluctant to do? Today's passage comes from the story of Gideon, very much one of the reluctant leaders of the Old Testament. When the Lord came to him, Gideon was grinding the meagre harvest of wheat in a winepress in an effort to be able to hide some flour from the Midianites to feed his family. At this time in their history, things were going very badly for the Israelites, for they had forsaken God and were being persecuted by their stronger and larger neighbours to the point where they were forced to hide in caves to escape them.
Into this scene, an angel of the Lord stepped with a much bolder plan for Gideon, telling him that he would deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites. Gideon received this news with total disbelief, and only after demanding a sign from God three different times did he actually believe that he had been chosen for the task.
I can certainly identify with Gideon. Part of my retirement plan was to continue my involvement in the church in the community where I grew up. During my working life, I had always attended church and had been on various committees, which worked to give support to the church and its leaders. I looked forward to being able to do the same after retirement. I knew that I had the necessary commitment and would work hard to support the church, but doing this behind the scenes was my comfort zone.
But it wasn't too long before I was asked to take a more active role in the service by reading the Scripture lessons on occasion. As time progressed, this led to my becoming more and more involved in leading worship.
Last fall, our minister answered a call to go to a church in western Canada. During that time of change, the elders asked me to take full charge of the service one Sunday a month, with another minister leading the rest of the services. Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to this, feeling that I did not have the experience necessary to take on such a role, but also feeling that we must all do what we can to help when needed.
Recently, the other minister, who was leading most of the services, decided to move closer to his family. I was then asked to lead all the services. Like Gideon, I do not feel qualified for the task at hand, and I am unsure that this is the job which God is calling me to do. But, unlike Gideon, I do not expect God to send me such a definitive sign as the dew on the fleece. However, as I reflected and prayed on it, I felt that God was guiding me at this time and that I had to take a leap of faith and do what I could to help my church.
Many times in life, we must trust that we are part of God's plan for His world, and with prayer, accept the challenges that lie before us to best of our abilities. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can all grow in our faith.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, there are times in our lives when we find ourselves on uncharted waters. Guide us when we are unsure of the path to take and we are unable to see the goal in sight. Strengthen our faith so that we can understand that You will lead us in the direction that You wish us to travel. Amen.
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Blessings on your journey, John. A good word today.
Amen John. Very true.
Good for you! God will support you as you move through this new phase in your life.
God is so proud of you. I hope you can feel Him surrounding you with His grace and love.
God bless you, John. With his help I have no doubt you will be equal to this task… and probably more.
“The Reluctant Leader”
Wonderful, beautiful, awe inspiring so very, very encouraging! Thank you John for today’s message.
I enjoyed your devotional. It is true and exciting to see what God does when we are obedient and get out of our comfort zones.
I guess it works two ways when you are told because you are old your services are no longer needed?? Even driving people, oh well we have some people for lunch at our home and prayer. We are more comfortable invisible anyway.
Thank you for writing to us John.
At age 65, I am having a similar experience to yours. My sense is if I show up to the new places the LORD leads me, He will do infinitely, exceedingly beyond my puny expectations. I must believe and pray for help with my reluctant unbelief.
John, reading through your devotional this morning, a couple of things stood out. First, your willingness to answer the call, and secondly, how carefully and gently the Lord prepared and enabled you to accept and carry out the call. There’s a saying that gives us hope. “God doesn’t always call the qualified, but He always qualifies those He calls”. God bless you and your ministry as you walk with Him. Praying for you. Blessings.
I appreciate very much your feelings of hesitancy and being inadequate for the task. So often in my life that has been the case and yet, it has thrown me more and more to rely on God for wisdom and grace and strength and guidance. Had I not answered the call, I would be a person of very small faith. May God grow you in grace and show you His favour through this ministry in your church! May you be a blessing to others.
Thanks for the message. I too was contemplating retirement these last few months and had considered a good time to finish my parish ministry. Recently I get a call from a search committee encouraging me to consideration sharing my profile. This would mean prolonging my retirement for a few years. I do not know what The Almighty is up to? My first reaction was no. However, that was not the answer the committee wanted. They continued to persuade me to consider the request and I finally sent off the profile.
Thanks for the reminder to remain open, blessings.
I can relate to your experiences. many years ago we had a study at our church about the “fruits of the spirits” which was led by the Minister we had at that time and the working part of the study was to show if we had any hidden gifts and it was concluded that I had the gift of preaching, which I had never done. Like you I had been involved in church work all my adult life. Anyway one Sunday the Minister asked me to lead the service many years ago and I have been preaching ever since. Various times when our local church was vacant and also, mostly now, in churches in the area which are vacant or when Ministers are on vacation. This has branched out to doing memorial services as well as leading Bible Discussions at the local Long Term Care Centre and officiating at funerals for some of the people I got to know, both at the home or in the community.
Believe me John, it might be hard at times, but you are making a difference.
John: I am sure with God’s help you will do a great job. You and your congregation are in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks for sharing your continuing journey in faith.
I believe you were inspired to lay everything out in your writing today. I have put you on my prayer list. Isn’t it interesting how God talks to us so clearly that we know what He is telling us, as though the words were spoken aloud. I do believe that each of us was made for a particular purpose, built in such a way that only we could fill this need. And that, if we refuse to go, that purpose will be unfulfilled. For sure, your leading services is a matter of faith on your part. And perhaps some weariness.
Hope is having faith when doubting would be easier. It’s one step at a time, further than I’ve ever gone before, as you so clearly illustrate. When I look back, I can see how far I’ve come. Today is a gift, (which is why it is called, ‘The Present’). I am absolutely positive that I have no leadership in me and yet – I continue to listen and look to Jesus today for guidance and help, turning over my will and life and in return, hear Him talk to my heart, direct and lead me. You are not alone. Your words will help many others today.
Dear John Reeves,
Thank you for the story of the way in which God has been leading you.
Keep reading your Bible and praying, You have a Great God who has entrusted you with a great responsibility.
Be sure to keep central in your faith and preaching the greatest knowledge that a human being can ever receive — the great sacrifice of God’s Son for the sins of each of us persons as he died on the cross to wipe away all of our sins and give us a clean start momentarily. The only requirement God makes of us is that we cast our our helplessness and faith upon him.
Thank you for your devotional. Keep writing for us as well as for the congregation for which you have accepted responsibilities.
I pray for your on-going relationship with God and people in this responsibility.