When I went to graduate school I was fortunate to be given a teaching assistantship. That meant I spent 20 hours/week teaching undergraduates in exchange for my tuition, fees, and a small stipend. The thing is, you had to teach whatever you were assigned. You didn’t get to apply for a particular task you thought you might be good at, because teaching assistantships were more like financial aid than like jobs. Your graduate department assigned you wherever it had work it needed done.
When I got my teaching assignment I couldn’t imagine anything they could possibly have assigned me for which I was less qualified. That concern carried no weight with the department, which undoubtedly had heard it before.
Their official answer was, “You’re a graduate student. They’re undergraduates. Just stay one chapter ahead of them and help them understand it as you go. If you can’t do that, we probably shouldn’t have admitted you to graduate school at all. If you don’t want to do it there are plenty of other people who do. But if you turn it down you won’t get a different assignment. You’ll have to pay your own full-price tuition, fees, books, housing, food, health insurance and other costs out of pocket, and you won’t get a second chance to apply for financial aid. Let us know by the end of the day.”
Terrified because I’d just moved to a brand new state with 2 kids where we knew no one, and had arrived without even any money for food (a 25 lb. gunny sack of white rice and a dozen eggs sustained us until I got paid), I vowed to do the best I could and got to work on the assignment I was given.
Funny I should think of that now.
I’ve been learning some tough lessons about serving God these past few weeks, not the least of which is that self-doubt is not the same thing as humility. Another is that God doesn’t beat around the bush. He tells it like it is. Which is not always easy.
Thinking back a few months, which seems a lot longer ago than that, I was feeling totally high on my new life in Christ, ready to go anywhere and do anything for Him.
I prayed that He would show me all my flaws so I could get to work on fixing them. And He did.
Lesson #1: Be careful what you pray for. God may grant your request.
As He revealed more and more of my brokenness to me in all its gory detail I became more and more overwhelmed. I started feeling so broken that I didn’t feel fit to serve God. I’d never be able to fix all my brokenness in my time on Planet Earth. I was sure He must’ve made a mistake when He accepted me into His Kingdom.
Lesson #2: Quit reading and writing and thinking and talking about God and spend some quality time with God.
Lesson #3: Jesus already died on the cross for my sins. Don’t just believe that. Understand it.
Lesson #4: God uses broken people to do His work on Earth all the time. Read the Bible. The entire Bible is full of flawed and broken sinners that God chose to do His work on Earth.
Lesson #5: Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing.
Back in my graduate school days I came to love that teaching assignment I was so sure I was unqualified to do.
I think maybe God may have been teaching me Lesson #6 back then, which I need to remember now.