My great-grandfather had a 6th grade education - and God used him to pastor a church.
I knew Reverend O.E. Burgett as a young child, but he passed away long before I realized the significance of that calling on his life. I wish I could ask him about it. Did his lack of formal education ever make him doubt his calling? Were there naysayers that attempted to disqualify him because of a lack of formal education?
My great-grandfather's church wasn't a large one. It likely never held more than one hundred people at a time - and that's probably being generous. Beams of Grace Tabernacle never made the history books, and will never be remembered amongst the "greatest churches in America."
That tiny church produced pastors and missionaries that have gone on to impact the world for Christ. Thousands have heard about the name of Jesus from those who were raised in those pews. Generations have been impacted because of his influence.
My mom still has many of his sermons, typed on the back of old receipts and letters. (My great-grandfather recycled before it became a trend.) He never made a living from pastoring that church - he served as a bi-vocational minister, working a full-time job to put food on his family's table while also living out his calling as a minister of the gospel.
I've noticed a trend lately in Christian circles - and I've been guilty of thinking this way as well. We somehow think that a person is more "qualified" to be used by God if they have the right degrees or the right credentials. I've often been tempted to disqualify myself from serving in the church. After all, I haven't been to seminary. Who am I to lead people in that area?
But that's not how God works. In His Kingdom, the greatest qualification is obedience.
A few years ago, my mom felt God calling her to start a non-profit organization to serve children in foster care. She doesn't have a degree in non-profit leadership - in fact, she doesn't have a degree at all. Being a stay-at-home mom for over thirty years would not seem like the ideal prerequisite for leading a non-profit organization.
That non-profit organization is now thriving, serving hundreds of children in foster care every month. She employs five women (including me!) and serves as the organization's executive director. She could have easily disqualified herself because of her lack of education or experience. But she didn't. She trusted God. And He has gotten all the glory.
While I'm all for formal education and even higher education, we must remember that God does not see people the way we do. If Jesus based calling on qualification, He would have chosen the accomplished scholars of His day to be His disciples. But He didn't. He chose "unlearned" fishermen to minister alongside Him.
And then there's the Samaritan woman at the well. The disciples were shocked to find Jesus talking to her - but Jesus wasn't afraid to break cultural norms. After she met the Messiah, she ran back to her village saying, "Come and see!" Many believed in Jesus after hearing her report. Perhaps one of the most unlikely in the eyes of the world, she became one of the first evangelists in the Bible.
You know who wants you to feel disqualified from that thing you believe God is calling you to do? The enemy. He wants to silence you, shut you down, keep you from living out the purpose God has for you.
Do not disqualify yourself.
You have been created on purpose, for a purpose, by an intentional God who does not make mistakes. If He can use a Samaritan woman with a sinful past to be an evangelist, if He can use unlearned fishermen to build His church, then He can use you and me.
Walk in obedience.
Submit to God.
And go change the world.