Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
From the scripture stories of Isaiah, Paul, and Peter, they appear to be saintly and effective instruments of God. Yet each one first protested his unworthiness, and could easily have missed what God was calling him to do. Thousands of years later, that obstacle – the feeling of not being capable or worthy or perfect enough for the job – is still actively operating.
Try asking someone to serve on the pastoral council, as a catechist or lector, or any of the myriad roles of service in our parishes, schools, and communities. How many excuses do you hear? "I’m not good enough. I’m too busy with my work. Other people are better suited than I am. I don’t have sufficient experience." And on it goes. Those of us on the "asking" end get continually frustrated. We wouldn’t approach people unless we felt they had the necessary gifts, but too often they turn away.
What about me? Sometimes I honestly feel I am not worthy, gifted, or capable. Yet even honest doubts are complicated by the fact that I, too, would rather stick with what I know and avoid additional responsibilities. I am afraid of failure, and prefer to let someone else take the risk and the job. Excuses are readily available, and I can rationalize my way into an abundance of them.
I suspect that my reluctance and self-protection too often frustrate God’s desires. What request is God placing in my lap that I am capable of fulfilling and yet I turn away? Perhaps more importantly, how is God calling me to stretch beyond what I believe I can do so greater work can be done? In what ways am I stuck (or even content) in the quagmire of unworthiness instead of praying that God purify my lips, give me all I need to accomplish the task, and grant me the courage to follow?
True discipleship is incredibly challenging. When I get too comfortable, or find myself making convenient excuses, I have to wonder whether God is calling. My task then is not to protest my unworthiness, but to prayerfully respond, "Here I am. Send me."
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.amyflorian.com/.