Doubts About Serving?

Our church is getting ready to begin a new season of leader enlistment and development. We plan once again this spring to conduct a workshop called Design 1.2.3. This involves matching the gifts of potential leaders with a place of meaningful service. Letters are sent out to several individuals that the Nominating Team may consider new to the church, on the fringe of involvement, or otherwise underutilized. In many instances, these individuals are ready and even eager to serve the church in some capacity, but have not been asked and trained for service. Design 1.2.3. is simply the first step in the process of ministry deployment.

In the invitation letter to these potential servant leaders or mentees, we indicate what we plan to accomplish during a couple of hours on a selected Saturday morning. In the first hour, we give out a self-scoring gift inventory that identifies what the individual is interested in as well as any demonstrated skills that could match with a particular area of service.
"Doubts are the ants in pants of faith." - F. Buechner

In the second hour, we pair each mentee with an experienced mentor who will discuss the results of the gift inventory and then suggest some possible places of service in the church and community that would match their specific gift mix. This mentoring session also includes a representative from the Nominating Team who has knowledge of available areas for serving.

A team of trained mentors will encourage, equip and resource the mentees for service. This will be a process involving several weeks of guided supervision and affirmation. At no time will a potential worker be left to "figure it out" on their own. In most instances, each new leader is put on a team of more experienced individuals who are ready to answer questions, redirect when something goes amiss, or offer a spiritual boost when the job seems to be burdensome.

One of the biggest challenges in this process of enlistment for service is that very capable individuals often fear taking a risk to try and grow into an area of service. They question their spiritual fitness and commitment. They struggle with doubts.  Doubts are often the most used tools in the devil's toolbox of discouragement. If he can get us doubting that God can use us in a place of service, he succeeds in side-lining many who would most surely make a positive impact in the advancement of God's kingdom work.

Frederick Buechner, an esteemed author, preacher and scholar of our day, is often quoted regarding the subject of doubt. He says, "If you don't have any doubts, you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving." You may be saying about an area of potential service, I can't do that!" You have some "doubting ants" stirring within your "spiritual pants!" Take heart! That's normal! It just reminds us again that we can't continue on our own nor should we!

One of the most intriguing and instructional of experiences the disciples had in their days with Jesus happened one evening when a storm arose on the Sea of Galilee (see Matthew 14:22-33). As expected, Jesus came to their rescue, but on His way to them, Peter shouted "Command me to come to you on the water!" The others in the boat must have thought he was crazy for asking such an impossible thing. Who can walk on water?!

Yet, Jesus surprisingly shouts back, "Come on!" And Peter got out of the boat and did the impossible! He started to walk to Jesus! Now, we all know how this turns out when he takes his eyes off the Lord and gives his attention to the wind and waves, Peter cries out "Lord, save me!" The Lord would later chastise him and the other disciples for their doubting and lack of faith, but remember how it all started out for Peter? He is stepping toward Jesus on the waves!

I encourage you to "get out of the boat" of your safety zone and move into risking service for Christ! Don't allow the devil to detract and discourage you. Don't give in to doubting yourself about service! God never calls us to do something that He does not enable and resource us to do it. But, we must have faith and believe in Him to do His part.

I'm reminded of what Hall of Fame hockey star Wayne Gretzkey once said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take!" If we don't risk service for the Lord, and make ourselves available to Him, we will never know what a blessing it is to use our gifts in a church or community setting. Listen to His voice inviting you to service, "Come on!"

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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