I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)
One of the more essential attributes you bring with you into youth ministry is the assurance that you're called by Gods to do His work. When we realise that we're doing more than running a programme, leading a small group or listening to a young person downloading their day, something shifts inside of us. Rather than being engaged in routine earthly pursuits, we're partnering with God in building His Kingdom one person at a time!
Because the knowledge and assurance that we are called by the God to share in His work is so transforming, Satan does all he can to undermine this sense of a call using a range of tactics.
The first tactic is to tell us that we're not able to fulfill this calling - either we are not capable enough or we are not strong enough. Paul, I'm sure, knew the feeling, and he knew that Timothy, as a young leader, was susceptible to the lies of the devil.
Therefore, early on is this letter, he states unequivocally that it is God who gives him the strength to fulfill his calling. He's not dependent on his own ability or his own strength. When he's feel tired, inadequate or overwhelmed he takes comfort in the knowledge that God is his strength.
The second tactic Satan commonly uses is to tell us that we're not worthy. If anyone was aware of his own unworthiness it was Paul. He never tried to hide his past, stating "I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people."
His defense against the devil wasn't one of denial. He didn't pretend the past never occurred, nor did he minimise his sin, except to say he did it in ignorance, thinking that he was in fact doing God's will. Instead of wallowing in guilt over his past failures he chose to celebrate God's mercy and grace.
In doing so he listed the two great tools that every leader needs: faith to do God's work, and love to care for His people. Again though, he mentions these with no thought of any credit for himself. Both are his through the generosity of God who invites you also to receive these two indispensable tools as you set out to serve Him.
Do you ever find yourself feeling inadequate for leadership either through a lack of ability and strength or through your own failures? Most of the devil's lies to us contain a half truth. You are inadequate and undeserving but realising this shouldn't cause you to wallow in self pity and weakness. Instead it should cause you to appreciate more fully God's amazing mercy and grace that looks beyond your failures and calls you into ministry with Him. Spend some time confessing your weakness and failures and allow yourself to deeply appreciate His amazing mercy and grace! Receive His gift of faith to do His work and love His people.