For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
I sat on the edge of my seat and listened as the deacon gave announcements. My mind was going a million miles a minute trying to think of a way for this to end well, but I couldn’t see it. The pit of my stomach felt heavy. It was the same feeling I get at the top of a roller coaster, when the anticipation is at its peak and I don’t know if the drop will be exhilarating or excruciating (mostly excruciating). And that was when I noticed the deacon looking in my direction and heard him saying, “Let’s welcome Pastor Grace as she gives the message for us today!”
I had been at the church about six months as the newest associate pastor. I was fresh out of seminary with a master’s degree in world missions but hadn’t made it to the mission field as I had imagined I would. I had never taken a preaching class, but here I was about to take the mic and preach my first sermon.
I wiped my palms down the sides of my skinny jeans, but it didn’t help. I walked to the music stand, laid open my trusty NIV Bible, and proceeded to read Scripture passages for the next twenty minutes, hoping that would be enough to carry the message.
It was embarrassing, a failure — and it happened to be Easter Sunday.
I still cringe when I think about that moment. It’s so deeply imprinted on my memory that now anytime I’m asked to speak or preach, it’s the first thing that comes to mind. And along with it I hear this half-truth: Who do you think you are? You’re not qualified. You don’t have enough experience. You need more training or education to be considered a professional.
I listen to the critic’s voice in my head as if she’s full of wisdom and care for me. It’s easy to understand her logic and to think she’s only trying to spare me from more shame. What she says is partially true: I wasn’t taught to be a preacher. I’ve never taken courses about how to become an excellent speaker. I’ve read some books and listened to some TED talks, but that’s not enough to be considered a professional.
But the critic’s half-truth goes further: If you can’t be a professional, what are you doing? Let others who are more eloquent and knowledgeable do the work of preaching and teaching.
I wrestle these thoughts to their core message, and the lie becomes clear: You aren’t good enough, and you never will be.
The words hurt me where I’m tender. I’m nearly convinced that the lies are true when I remember how many times I’ve heard from God that I am to use my words to lead. He has made that abundantly clear. But in my humanness and doubt, I ask Him one more time, Lord, are You sure?
I sense God lovingly reply, Who are you to say whether My Word is true or not? Am I not the One who created the world and who, even before then, thought of you and all that you would be? Whose voice will you listen to?
He knows I know the answer. I’m His masterpiece, but I’ve counted myself as the one who didn’t make the cut. Because He is the Artist who created me, He knows every stroke of paint, every layered texture, every hidden gift that will unfold as I trust Him and say yes to Him.
So even though my knees still shake and the critic’s voice still whispers lies, the next time I’m asked to speak I step up to the podium, hold the mic, and let His words tell the truth.
Lord, I am Your masterpiece. Even as I say it, I need faith to believe it more. Thank You for the good things You’ve planned for my life from before the beginning of time. When I feel inadequate to step into those good things, I pray that You would be my confidence and that Your Word to me would be the most important qualification I need. Thank You that I can stand tall and firm because You are in me. Amen.