God Says, “You Are Adequate”
Posted on May 4, 2021 by VMMissions Staff
John David Thacker, VMMissions’ most recently appointed church planter, has heard God’s call to plant an Anabaptist peace church in Charleston, W.Va. A particular word of affirmation from the Lord has been a significant encouragement to him during this challenging season of relocation.
John David Thacker. Courtesy photo
In June 2020, I loaded my Honda Fit with everything I owned, drove to Charleston, West Virginia, and moved into an apartment along the banks of the Kanawha River. I did not know a single person in the city. I didn’t have a new job waiting for me. And I didn’t have a church family in my new home. I was following a call to plant a church: to reach people who are not yet followers of Jesus, to reach people who are drawn to Jesus but wary of the church.
My calling grew slowly over many years. I was a pastor for 14 years, and when I left that congregation, I sensed that I was being called to do something different. Reading Alan Hirsch’s The Forgotten Ways helped me identify in myself an apostolic gifting that would be best expressed in creating something new.
It took several more years for me to further discern that calling. In 2019-2020, I participated in Mennonite Mission Network’s Sent program. The study and online discussions helped me process that call and commit to planting a new church. Starting something new is not easy, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been many times of frustration and loneliness when I question my calling or my competency.
Downtown Charleston, West Virginia. Courtesy Wikipedia
But then I think back to the summer of 2019. I was sitting by the creek at Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp, asking God for more wisdom, more compassion, more direction in life, more … something. As I listened to the water cascading down the mountainside, the words that came to me were, “You are adequate.”
I smiled when I heard that. It was an inside joke. Earlier that summer, the camp staff had watched a documentary about a rock climber. In one scene, he is shopping for a new refrigerator. When he finds one he likes, with great enthusiasm he exclaims, “Oh! This is so adequate!” We laughed when we heard that. His excitement seemed incongruent with his choice of the word “adequate.” Who gets excited about something that is merely adequate?
And who among us would be pleased to be described by someone we love and admire as “adequate?” I don’t want to be adequate! I want to be awesome! I want to be the best. To be called adequate is a back-handed affirmation. Next Valentine’s Day try giving your beloved a card that proclaims “You are adequate.” Just don’t blame me for the consequences.
Yet, “adequate” was the word God spoke and the word I needed to hear. On some days, my spiritual pride has me feeling superior to others; on other days, I feel wholly deficient. The message, “You are adequate,” keeps me centered. I am enough, no more and no less, for the work to which God has called me. I don’t have to be a superhero to serve God and love my neighbor. When God is responsible for the outcome, it is sufficient for me to be adequate. This word from God liberates me from the self-imposed burden of always trying to improve myself, always feeling that I am somehow lacking and never quite ready. It reminds me that I do not have to be exceptional to be useful.
I received that message as an affirmation. And I want to offer that affirmation to you as well. If God has called you to do something and you have been putting it off because you don’t believe you have the necessary skills or spiritual gifts or authority, listen to what the Lord may be saying to you. “You are adequate.”