27 September, 2023

June 4 | Application (‘Overcoming Our Reluctance to Serve God’)

by | 29 May, 2023 | 0 comments

By David Faust 

Dwight D. Eisenhower serves as a key example in Dr. Tim Elmore’s article “Why Reluctant Leaders Often Make the Best Ones” (available at timelmore.com). Eisenhower was so popular after serving as the allied commander during World War II that supporters entered him in the 1952 New Hampshire presidential primary election without his permission. He didn’t want to run for president, but 24 newspapers promptly endorsed him. Eisenhower finally acquiesced, realizing his country needed him to serve one more time.  

A 2020 article in the Harvard Business Review identifies three reasons people are reluctant to lead: 

1. Interpersonal risk. Some fear that if they step into leadership positions, it might hurt feelings and damage their relationships with friends. They worry, “If you’re a leader, people dislike you and talk about you behind your back.”  

2. Image risk. Other people are reluctant to lead because they don’t want to “seem like a know-it-all” or look bad in the eyes of their peers. 

3. Risk of being blamed. Still others don’t want to be held personally responsible if the group fails, fearing it could cost them promotions or other opportunities in the future.  


If you ever feel unsure about stepping into a service or leadership role, you are in good company. God told Jeremiah, “I [have] appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5), but the young priest didn’t feel qualified. His first excuse? He thought he lacked the required skill. He declared, “I do not know how to speak” (v. 6). But if Jeremiah really didn’t know how to speak, he couldn’t have said those words! The problem was, he didn’t consider himself articulate enough to be a prophet.  

Jeremiah’s second excuse? He didn’t think he belonged to the right age group. “I am too young,” he insisted (v. 6). Sometimes we overlook potential leaders because we assume they are too young (or too old). Chronological age is one way to measure fitness for leadership, but it’s not the only way. Barton W. Stone was only 28 years old at the Cane Ridge Revival and Alexander Campbell was 28 when he preached his famous “Sermon on the Law.” Jesus began his public ministry at age 30 and accomplished his mission by the time he was 33.  


Jeremiah’s excuses didn’t prevail. The Lord told him, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you” (v. 7). When we feel reluctant about serving God, here are three facts to remember: 

God’s purpose compels us. Jeremiah’s calling didn’t happen by accident. God reminded him, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (v. 5). He designed us for a purpose, too.  

God’s presence accompanies us. We don’t have to do the job alone. The Lord assured jittery Jeremiah, “I am with you and will rescue you” (v. 8). He is with us, too. 

God’s truth equips us. The Lord told his reluctant spokesman, “I have put my words in your mouth” (v. 9). We aren’t prophets like Jeremiah, but we can teach and lead with confidence when Scripture is our guide. 

According to researcher Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, the most effective leaders display a mixture ofindomitable will andpersonal humility. Maybe a little reluctance isn’t a bad quality in a leader after all. 

Personal Challenge: Talk with your small group or a trusted friend about a time when God nudged you to serve, but you felt reluctant. What did you learn from that experience?  


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