Resting in Inadequacies: Truly Finding Strength in Weakness
Nov 1, 2018 | 8 min read | Rachel Berkebile
This year I have had the amazing privilege of working with Josiah Venture for six months, as an extended summer intern (ESI) in Germany. My time here has been divided into two major roles, the first being a summer intern leader and the second jumping into fall ministry working alongside a young couple trying to plant a church in the small town of Burg. A lot of my ESI has been defined by feelings of inadequacy, and in that, seeing how God uses me not despite these inadequacies, but through them for his glory.
Your Inadequacies Point You to Christ
Even before my internship began, feelings of inadequacy loomed overhead. Probably the most tangible example of this before starting my internship was through support raising. The amount I needed to support raise for the ESI was way more money than I had ever had to ask for before and I was really uncertain that I would reach my goal. I had gone on lots of short-term trips before and I even interned with JV for a whole summer, and during those times I had actually never really struggled with support raising. God had always blown me away when it came to this part of missions, but this time, the high number I needed to reach blew me away a bit more.
I set to work like usual, writing letters, talking to churches, and holding huge rummage sales, but I didn’t really know what else to do. I kept wondering, “How on earth am I going to get this money using the same old tools I’ve had before?” My normal efforts really did seem inadequate. But God, no surprise, chose to blow me away again. For example, I had had a rummage sale before to support raise, but this time I made twice what I had in the past with just this one event. God used this time of support raising not only to show me his power, but to remind me that I am inadequate and that is why I need him so desperately. My inadequacy is something he would bring me back to time and time again throughout my internship as well.
Your Inadequacies Teach You the Importance of the Church
A few weeks later, at the beginning of the summer, while at intern leader training, I remember thinking to myself, “What on earth do I know about leading a team? Why am I the one in this position?” Yet through the summer I was able to see God use me well in that position, but in very unexpected ways.
During the first two weeks of our summer ministry I got really sick. Throughout this time my teammates cared for me very well. They made sure I had all the things I needed to get better and went out of their way to give me time to rest. This was a hard thing for me to accept, especially at the beginning of the summer. I was the team leader, surely I should have been the one caring for them.
And yet in allowing them to step in and cover my weaknesses I got to see their strengths shine through. Throughout our first three days together during the Amazing Race I clearly saw this—us as a team covering each other’s weaknesses and celebrating one another’s strengths. In the setting of the race this felt easier to see and accept, but once we were into our ministry I struggled with allowing my weaknesses to be seen and cared for. Once I realized the connection, that them caring for me as I was sick was just a real-life version of the Amazing Race, I was blown away.
It was amazing to see how specifically God had picked each of my interns so that we could all care for one another well throughout our summer. This was something I really felt became a theme for us—no one was more important or more needed on the team, not even me as the leader. We were all specifically put on that team by God for a reason. Throughout the summer, as we all began to realize this I think it bonded us as a team more and more. So for me it really was in my weakness that I got to see my team be strong.
Your Inadequacies Give God the Glory
Similarly, as my fall ministry has begun, I have seen God continue to use me in unexpected ways. It is always dangerous to say you will “never” do something. Coming from a family with so many teachers, and wanting to be a bit more unique, I said I would never teach. Also, coming from a small town and having longed to get out of it for most of my adolescence, I said I would never live in a small town again. With these “never” ideas in mind, I don’t think it comes as much of a surprise that God chose to have me doing ministry in a small town this fall, mainly teaching English in order to do outreach with students.
Seeing that God uses unlikely people in unlikely situations through my own life gives me hope for the young people that I work with. It gives me hope for the student I see get teased by his brother and friends for not being very smart, and yet has so much joy and comes to every event I plan and asks if he can bring friends. It gives me hope for the kid at youth group who acts like he is too cool for everyone and I know he gives his parents a hard time at home, but when I tell him I won’t be around next week he asks, “Then who is going to lead youth group!?” It even gives me hope for the girl who makes fun of me when I speak German, and yet helps me explain to the others our lesson about how Jesus loves us no matter what we’ve got going on inside of us. In these students, faults and all, I see the reason I am here; I see the future leaders of this part of the world, and I am so excited.
My prayer is that as each of us goes through life sometimes feeling inadequate, we would use those feelings of inadequacy to be reminded of the One who is our fullness and hope. Also, please join me in praying for the youth of Central and Eastern Europe, as they struggle through broken families, tough school systems, and simply life in a world that tells them they are only worth something at their best. Pray that they would be drawn to God who loves because he can see them at their worst and still wants to use them for his glory!
If you’re interested in getting more info on our internships, please click here.
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