I sat on the front stoop of my church building, head cupped in my hands. It was hot, and the sun beat down on my shoulders. I could feel the sweat beading along my neck, slowly dripping down my back.
“So, I think there’s been a mistake,” I told God. “You’ve got the wrong girl.”
A little less than a year ago, I quit my job as a news producer at Canada’s largest broadcaster. In a complete plot twist, I discerned God leading me to pastor and plant a church. (In case anyone tells you following Jesus is boring, let me be the first to say that’s not true at all.)
In the span of a few months, I went from producing news stories to pastoring a group of people and preparing to launch a church this fall.
I had a laundry list of reasons why God had the wrong person. I hadn’t gone to Bible college. I was a twenty-something-year-old girl. I didn’t know anything about hiring staff or managing a building or running a church. I mentally ran through all the things I needed to do: choose paint colors, stay on budget, find volunteer teams, and figure out who would cut the grass and take out the garbage each week.
I shook my head and prayed again, “I’m not cut out for this, Jesus. I can’t run a church. I can’t do this.”
Discouragement settled on me like a weighted blanket for the rest of the day. I was convinced this wasn’t going to work. Why on earth had I decided to leave a well-paying journalism job to pastor a church plant?
Later that night, I went on a walk with Jesus. It’s my favorite way to talk with Him. The sunset was streaking pink and lilac across the sky as I poured my heart out to Jesus. I confessed every fear and insecurity I had — telling Him how terrified I was that I might mess this up for people, that I might somehow become a barrier between the people I pastored and Him.
But you’re not their Savior. That’s up to Me.
I took a deep breath, and then another one. His words lifted the blanket of discouragement right off me and replaced it with peace.
Jesus says His burden is light. When I feel like the work I’m called to is causing me to feel more heavy than light, it’s a good cue to consider if I’m trying to be God instead of pointing people to Him. It’s not up to me to save people. That’s up to Jesus. It’s up to me to love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love others in the same way. It’s up to me to become as passionate a disciple of Jesus as I can, and to invite others to do the same. It’s up to me to become involved in my local church, surround myself with community, and practice spiritual disciplines that take me into a deeper union with God.
But it’s not up to me to save anyone. That’s all up to Jesus.
Perhaps you feel like you’re not the right person for the job. You might have a long list of reasons why you think God’s got it wrong. You might be convinced you’re not enough or not cut out for this. You might think you need more education or more money or more faith. You might think you can’t do it because you’re a woman.
You may not feel like the right person. . . but the Holy Spirit is — and He lives in you.
God has given us His very Spirit to live and dwell and take up residence within us. When you follow Jesus, you have all that you need. The Holy Spirit equips and empowers you. He counsels you and guides you.
David once prayed, “May Your good Spirit lead me on level ground…” (Psalm 143:10 NIV) When you follow the Holy Spirit, He may take you on an adventure that you never expected, but He is a good God who will lead you on level ground. With the Holy Spirit equipping you, empowering you, leading you, and filling you afresh each day with more of Him, you’re exactly where you need to be.
You may not feel like you’re the right person, but the Holy Spirit is. And He won’t leave you for even one second.
Aliza, thank you for this! I am applying for a position right now that seems way out of my comfort zone, and I needed your beautiful encouragement this morning!
Aliza Latta says
So thankful it encouraged you today!
Beth Williams says
I’ll be praying for God’s discernment in this situation. If He brings it to you then He will equip you for it.
Abba Father, Please send LK a discerning heart about this job she is applying for. Let her know if it is where you want her. Guide her steps in this process. AMEN!
Thank you Aliza! I didn’t even know how much I needed this reminder until I read it. And I love the line in your “about the author”: “She is always searching for the goodness of God, even when she has to squint to see it.”
Aliza Latta says
Thank you so much, Cheyla 🙂
Ruth Mills says
2 instances when I was asked to join a ministry I felt TOTALLY unequip for have become 2 of my greatest joys. No children of our own, no teaching experience AT ALL & you want me to teach 3-4th graders Sunday school?!? 18 years later I’m still scared spitless BUT GOD enables. Same experience 4 years ago being asked to be a mom in a Titus 2 ministry. “I’m not mature enough, I have no parenting skills to pass on, I c-a-n’t… The Holy Spirit says “yes, you’re right, Ruth, you can’t BUT I in you CAN!
Aliza Latta says
I love how the Holy Spirit has encouraged you in this way, Ruth!
Kathleen B says
Aliza, I appreciate your courage, resilience, and statement,”It’s not up to me to save people. That’s up to Jesus. It’s up to me to love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love others in the same way.”
As a lifelong believer, more than a few people have tried to “save me” for not being a member of their perception of me belonging to a Christian denomination which is not Christian “enough.” Like you, I live to model and be Jesus to others in action , while not assuming the responsibility to “save”
them. Thanks for sharing what that path looks like as a fellow “passionate disciple “of Christ.
Aliza Latta says
Thank you so much, Kathleen. So thankful this was an encouragement to you today!
Thank you, Aliza! Your words are inspiring. And inspired.
Thank you for your post. Though anyone brings up a woman being a pastor I become confused. I’ve always read in the Bible that woman aren’t supposed to teach or have authority over a man. Truly just want to know your thoughts on this because I know others who are pastors who are woman and seem to have the right motives so it’s very confusing.
Aliza Latta says
Hi MaryMargaret! Thank you for your kind response. I know this can be challenging! I believe it’s very important to keep in mind the cultural context of what was happening at the time. In 1 Timothy, for example, Paul was writing about first-century Ephesus. Throughout Scripture we see other examples of women who taught and preached to both men and women. We see this in Matthew 28:10, when Jesus commands the women to share the news with the other disciples; in John 20, when Jesus exhorts Mary to tell the other disciples about Him; and in Romans 16, when Phoebe — who was a deacon in a church near Corinth — was almost certainly asked by Paul to take his letter to different house churches in Rome, and would have almost certainly been the one to read his letter out to people (to both men and women). It’s a big topic, but I hope this helps a little. Thank you for your question!
Thanks for this reminder this morning straight from the heart of God to mine. I woke discouraged with parenting teens (yup… I even was feeling as though God had the “wrong gal” for that job too!!), and with my job that I went to this morning in a long term care place where we are in full on outbreak mode again. I need to get quiet, get still and listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd. Step 1 was this post. Thanks again. And blessings on your God-venture!!
Aliza Latta says
Praying our Good Shepherd speaks to you over and over today, Kristen. <3
Janet Williams says
OMGosh Aliza! I cannot tell you how often I have read this lately. Heard this from others and seen it everywhere! Especially..
“you’re exactly where you need to be” !!!
I’m sooo in the waiting! I live where I never would have expected…a 1 bed apartment with a huge dog and 1 bathroom!! Both my husband and I have jobs that “came out of the blue” doing something neither of us has ever done!! And there just doesn’t seem to be a current open door to do or go or live, but where we are!?? As you reminded me today….
“When you follow the Holy Spirit, He may take you on an adventure that you never expected, but He is a good God who will lead you on level ground. With the Holy Spirit equipping you, empowering you, leading you, and filling you afresh each day with more of Him” AMEN \0/
Thank you Aliza
Ariel Krienke says
Great encouragement. Never know where or to what God may call us
Nancy Ruegg says
I love your three statements, Aliza, that begin with “It’s up to me to . . . ” You’ve synthesized our responsibilities as disciples of Christ into manageable categories, providing good filters for the choices we have to make.
Gail Noe says
Very well said. Let go of control
Oh wow – this is exactly what Dallas Jenkins (creator, the Chosen TV series) keeps saying.. It is not up to you to feed the 5000. You just need to bring the loaves and fish
Lord, we place our trust in You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, amen!
Beth Williams says
This is my go to statement “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” That is so true in my life. I was working part time in a hospital ICU Step down unit as clerical. Last September my co worker broke her arm & I filled in full -time. Come Mid November they had to shut the unit down do to staffing. They put me in an ICU Covid unit. Talk about being nervous. I learned to make IV lines with 4 extensions for the RNs & help out with whatever they needed. God saw fit to bless the pants off me & gave me a fulltime benefitted position in ICU. All I had to do was apply. Never in a million years would I have ever seen myself working in a hospital. Just goes to show you God knows best.