Why you shouldn’t count yourself out of ministry

August 14, 2019

I was 24, working at my alma mater, when a student prayed in a group, “And God, thank you for Jenn’s example as an older woman on our campus.” I restrained a burst of laughter. Thankfully everyone’s eyes were closed. I had been in their seats less than two years before. I definitely wasn’t an older woman, and I didn’t feel like an example.

“I can’t do ministry because . . .”

In the days following that prayer, I would have students and staff come to me for advice. When this happened, I had a choice: I could keep protesting internally, correct them externally, or step into the opportunity before me and leverage it for the glory of God. In addition to age, there are other reasons we can discount ourselves and not take advantage of the ministry opportunities before us.

We can discount our ministry opportunities because of our seasons of life. Singles may think because they are single, they have to wait to start real ministry. Young moms may think, “I’ll have more time later.” Women in the church with empty nests may think, “Why would a young woman want to hang out with me?” But whoever you are, as a believer in Christ, God has gifted you and given you opportunities to serve him. Those opportunities will look different in various seasons, but don’t ignore all the opportunities before you.

We can discount ourselves because we focus on our weaknesses. When God called Moses as his spokesperson for Israel, Moses’ response was, “Surely you have the wrong person. God, maybe you haven’t noticed, but I’m not very eloquent.” Looking at his weaknesses, Moses said, “Let me out of this opportunity!” The Lord sent Moses forward in the mission, but before he did, he refocused Moses with a reminder of God’s strength, power, and presence (Exo. 4:10). As one of my seminary professors regularly reminded his students, “There is a Divine preference for human agency.” Don’t put yourself out of commission because you are weak or human; step into the opportunities, and watch God work.

Ministry is not reserved for the best, the brightest, the wisest, or for those in perfect circumstances; it is a part of our calling as disciples.

We can discount ourselves because we compare ourselves with others. I’m gifted as a teacher, but my mom is a master teacher. If I thought she was the standard, I’d never teach. As I’ve taken steps toward training and discipling women overseas I’ve often thought, “Who do I think I am? There are men and women who would be able to contribute to the church overseas and fill capacities I can’t.” But that thinking is wrong. It’s God’s idea for me to disciple, not my own (Matt. 28:18-20; Titus 2:3-5). There are things I can contribute that others can’t, because God created and called me to do them. Also, there aren’t enough workers overseas, so why not contribute where I can.

4 things I’ve learned about ministry 

As I have struggled to step into the opportunities before me, here are four things I’ve learned:

  1. Be equipped by God’s Word. Ministry is not reserved for the best, the brightest, the wisest, or for those in perfect circumstances; it is a part of our calling as disciples. Jesus told the disciples they were to make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them to observe all he had commanded (Matt. 28:16-20). God has given us his Word to guide this process. Paul, in training Timothy, a young minister, reminded him of this: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
  2. Be encouraged by God’s promises. Scripture is full of God’s assurances for those who seek to serve him. Before his ascension, Jesus promised his presence as we serve him (Matt. 28:20). God prepares us beforehand for the ministry he gives us (Eph. 2:10). God has given you everything you need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him (2 Pet 1:3). Paul told Timothy to fan the flame of the gift of God in him, because God had not given a spirit of timidity and fear (2 Tim. 1:6-7). We can similarly take heart. When I’m tempted to count myself out rather than step into a ministry opportunity, these truths help me move forward in faith, not fear.
  3. Be an example. Paul instructs Timothy to not let anyone despise him for his youth, but rather to set an example. The categories Paul lists are helpful to us wherever we find an opportunity to serve Christ. Whether we are young or old, male or female, or regardless of any other circumstance, we can seek to set an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity (1 Tim 4:12).
  4. Be engaged in the opportunities before you. Yes, 1,000 people may be better qualified than you for the task at hand, but they aren’t there; you are. God in his wisdom has given you the opportunity. Humbly step into the appropriate opportunities before you, whether you feel prepared or believe you are the perfect fit. You’ll get the opportunity to watch how God provides, works, changes you, and uses you in the process.

Whether you feel ready or qualified, if there’s an opportunity to minister, take it. It won’t serve the people looking up to you to protest, “I’m not an older woman!” There’s plenty of work to be done and too few to do it (Matt. 9:36-38). Don’t sideline yourself. Instead, invest in the Kingdom and the growth of others.

Jenn Kintner

Jenn Kintner is the associate dean of academic affairs at Gulf Theological Seminary. Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24