One of the reoccurring questions I've been receiving the most in this past season can be summed up this way:
"How do I know when I'm ready to step out and trust God to use me?"
There is an underlying thought by many Christians that God is waiting for you to get your shit together before he would ever consider you for the good works he has in store for the world. In my own life , the question usually stems more from a lack of self belief than a desire to help and serve my neighbor. We are constantly waging this inner war of validation and worthiness and it's completely exhausting. It's exhausting because when will be ever be able to know when that magical moment is... when is enough, enough? When are we set apart... enough? When are we trained and equipped... enough? When will we ever actually be enough?
Jesus never asked us to be special. Jesus' invitation to follow him never demands a list or set of skills as prerequisites. He simply reaches his hand out and asks:
My greatest heroes aren't ones who used to serve in the small things, then graduated to the "special" things. There is no ascension like this in Jesus' Kingdom. There is simply a willingness to do what is good and what is right, in whatever capacity we are able to, in every season of our lives.
This looks like staying late and cleaning up at the end of the party. It looks like giving a part of your limited income to someone in greater need than you. It looks like taking the worse shift, with the same pay, and doing it purely as an act of service to your co-worker. It looks like not complaining. It looks like being on time and showing up to events because you said you would show up.
These things aren't stepping stones towards greatness. Things you used to do when you were on the bottom, but you did them enough and now your exempt. Doing the small things well, always prepares you to do whats next, and do it well.
What's next could look like volunteering at your local homeless shelter. It could look like teaching a 12 year old kid guitar who is less fortunate than you ( for free even...). It could look like building a network of like minded entrepreneurs to create sustainable products that alleviate child labor in the developing world. It could look like creating art and media that connects the deep need and pain of this world to the millions of willing and capable people that can further engage and get their hands dirty.
How incredible would it be if the Church was filled with innovative, successful and servant hearted people? How would you respond if you caught your favorite indie film director mopping the floors after the opening night of his film? How impacting would it be if you're extremely gifted communicator Pastor was discovered spending his free time running classes on public speaking to at risk youth in the shady part of town? Wouldn't it be so awesome to find all of our celebrity worship leaders teaching music theory to autistic teenagers?
The answer to the underlying question of when am I ready, is always NOW. Right now, if you are willing, you are ready for God to use you. You simply need to respond with a YES and a willingness to GO. Don't complicate it or over-spiritualize it. Don't look for a special opportunity. Look for ANY opportunity to put someones need above your own, grab Jesus' outstretched hand and see how far he can bring you.