God Doesn't Call the Qualified; He Qualifies the Called.
Excerpts from new book How to Pastor and Live to Tell About It: Lessons from Nehemiah by Roberta Sarver (available from Amazon Books).
Charlotte Elliott of Brighton, England, was an invalid in 1834. Her brother organized a charity bazaar, with the proceeds going to provide higher education for daughters of clergymen. Those around Charlotte were busy preparing for the grand event, while she despaired at her apparent uselessness.
Deciding to concentrate instead on her salvation in Christ, Charlotte wrote the poem “Just As I Am.” Now one of the most widely used invitation hymns ever, Charlotte’s simple poem has traveled around the world.
In another instance, Haskell was a quiet, humble young man enrolled in ministry training in the mid-1900s. While there, he felt a call from God to minister to unchurched people in Mexico. The problem was, he seemed a most unlikely candidate for the rigors of missionary life. Childhood polio left him with a limp. His young wife had an eye disease that eventually would leave her blind.
No mission organization would take a risk on Haskell and his wife; her health was too delicate.
And though he kept the calling before God in prayer, as their five children arrived, the risks multiplied. Instead, they pastored churches and waited twelve years for the God of heaven to open doors.
Eventually, Haskell and his wife did go to the mission field. This unique couple pioneered seven flourishing churches that still exist in the mountains of Mexico today. Now, more than thirty-five years later, men who became Christians in those indigenous churches serve as their pastors.
Another Improbable Example
Perhaps most inconceivable of all candidates for leadership was Dwight L. Moody. Most remember him as the beloved preacher, evangelist, and founder of schools as well as the famous Moody Church in Chicago. He wasn’t always a stalwart candidate for headship, however.
Moody had a less-than-ideal start. His father died when Dwight was four, leaving the boy’s mother with nine children to raise (a set of twins was born only a month after their father’s death).
Dwight attended school only through fifth grade.
At age seventeen, the boy grew bored with life on the farm and sought employment in the outside world. Several employers rejected him until finally he found work in his uncle’s shoe store. Fortunately, this uncle required Dwight to attend Sunday school. His Sunday school teacher, Edward Kimball, said this:
I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class; I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness.
Despite Moody’s apparent lack of leadership abilities, he applied himself to soul winning. This young convert convinced a saloonkeeper to let him use an abandoned shanty where he began a Sunday school for working-class children. A year later, 650 people attended his Sunday school, with sixty teachers from various churches serving as volunteers.