And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth. (1 Timothy 2:7)
I'm sure at some stage you've found yourself in that potentially awkward and embarrassing situation where two people are picking teams and you're part of the group waiting to be picked.
Every time one of these team leaders pick someone else, they essentially reject you. And so it goes on, and so you pray, "Lord please don't let me be the last one to picked!"
When you think about it, the last person to be picked is the only person not to be chosen. There is no "choice". It's you or no one. In fact, the ultimate insult is when a team leader says to the one remaining person, "You can be on their side!"
I'm not sure that the Apostle Paul ever found himself as "the last one chosen" but one thing is clear, he is in no doubt that he's serving God, not because he chose to but because God first chose Him.
It's an important distinction.
When we feel as though it's we who have chosen to serve God, our mindset is one of entitlement. We somehow expect God to be grateful to us and to appreciate what we are doing for Him.
When we understand that it is in fact God who has chosen us to serve, and that this choice is not something we've earned, then our mindset changes from entitlement to devotion. We recognise that a calling to lead is an amazing privilege that is ours through God's grace and not our merit.
Rather than looking to see what benefit we might gain from leadership (approval, popularity, status) we instead look for ways that our leadership might benefit others and bring glory to God (faithfulness, diligence, humility).
Paul understood all this when he addressed Timothy. If anyone didn't deserve to lead it was Paul. After all, this was the man whose previous job description had read, "Hunt down and kill Christians". He could hardly be more undeserving of being chosen.
Despite his past, Paul was conscious of the fact that even mentioning his important call to ministry might leave him open to exaggeration - making himself sound more important than he actually was. After all, "Apostle" was the most important title given to a church leader at that time and Paul's calling was especially important because he was the first to take the good news about Jesus to non-Jewish (Gentile) people.
Today we look back on Paul as the greatest human leader the Church has known. If anyone had cause to boast it was him. Yet on those occasions where it was necessary to describe his call he was at pains to simply tell the truth without exaggeration.
"This is who I am. This is what I'm called to. And the only reason is, God has chosen me."
Do you ever feel a sense of pride at being a leader or at having someone recognise leadership potential in you? Spend time reflecting on the word "chosen" reminding yourself how undeserving you are of this privilege, and thanking God for His goodness and grace to you.