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Self-Imposed Limitations

What I'm Reading Today: Exodus 6-8

When I was first grappling with my call to ministry, I had a huge obstacle to overcome. That obstacle wasn't what many people assume it was. Let me set up my situation, and then identify what that primary obstacle was.

I was raised as a member of the United Methodist Church. My family had been Methodist for several generations. Growing up, I knew that the UMC had a policy against ordaining people who were openly Gay or Lesbian. As I grew into an understanding of who I was (a gay man), I figured that this meant I could never be ordained as a parish minister.

Let me stop there for a moment and talk about the primary obstacle I faced on my path toward ordination. Many folks hear this and assume the primary obstacle I faced was the denominational policy that excluded me from consideration for ordination. While the denominational policy certainly was one obstacle, it wasn't the primary obstacle.

So what was the primary obstacle?

The primary obstacle was my decision to buy into the thinking behind the policy. I spent years questioning my value and worth because of the policy: not only as a candidate but as a human being. Because of that, I didn't even think of pursuing ordination in other traditions that were inclusive. In other words, the greatest obstacle before me was between my ears. I was imposing limitations upon myself because of the way I thought about myself.

Thankfully, God was stubborn and hung in there until I was able to recover from the religious abuse I suffered at the hand of the UMC. Eventually I realized I was a gifted, capable person whom God could use to touch the lives of others.

Of course I wasn't the only one who felt inadequate when it came time to answer God's call. In today's reading we learn that Moses (the greatest figure in Hebrew Scripture/the Old Testament) also felt inadequate. When God first called Moses by saying, "Go and speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt so that he will release the Israelites from his land," Moses fought that call. He said, "Look-the Israelites won't even listen to me. How do you expect Pharaoh to? And besides, I stutter."

Moses reason for concern was different than mine – but the obstacle was the same. It was the same self-doubt that stemmed from between Moses' ears that caused him to think he wasn't capable of answering God's call. Once again, God was stubborn and refused to let Moses off the hook just because he thought of himself as incapable.

This issue of self-imposed limitations is an important issue because so many of us these days think poorly of ourselves. We think to ourselves, "I could never answer God's call. I'm too – (and you can fill in the blank here with your own limitation). You might think of yourself as either too old or too young; too skinny or too heavy; too poor or too rich – you name it. Whatever your self-imposed limitation is, today spend some time thinking about how your life might be different if you finally gave in to God's persistence and answered that call that you've been avoiding. Not only would you be better for it - the world would be as well.

Til next time …

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