For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? - Esther 4:14
Mordecai's not so subtle advice to Esther was that she had been chosen to go to the king and plead for the lives of her people. It was her specific, God-given assignment that could have eventually been fulfilled by someone else, but was meant for her. The principle that everyone has a calling and purpose is just as true today as it was then.
Today, young adults in the church have unprecedented opportunities to make significant impact in the church and in society at large. Many already are heeding Christ's call on their lives to fulfill his purposes. However, in some cases what God calls us to do may not be easy, convenient, or conventional. It usually requires a substantial degree of commitment, sacrifice, and of course faith. Despite hearing the call to participate in a certain ministry, many young adults are paralyzed by doubts and never move from their comfort zones into areas where God can use their gifts and talents. Instead of maturing and putting their faith into action, they stop short of reaching their potential. Three factors often hinder people from achieving what God has for them: fear, inexperience, and procrastination.
Fear. Fear is a paralyzing force that has kept many ministries on the drawing board. Usually those things we most fear never actually occur. However, the longer we hesitate the more we ponder how we could fail. Taking action, whether or not it's successful at the outset, provides invaluable experience and courage.
Lack of Experience. Another common hindrance to young adults is the feeling that they are too inexperienced for the task. When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses reflected upon his insecurities and replied, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11). God had already made provisions for Moses; he simply needed to act.
In the book of Timothy, Paul exhorted a young minister, "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). Upon hearing the call to be a prophet to all nations, Jeremiah replied, "I cannot speak for I am a youth" (Jeremiah 1:5-6). God told Jeremiah that before he was formed in the womb he was appointed to the task and that he would give Jeremiah the words to speak. God does not ask us to do something that he does not make provisions for us to accomplish. As illustrated by young Queen Esther, an even younger David, and the prophet Jeremiah, youth can be more of a qualification for God's work than an exemption from it.
Procrastination. The third deterrent is procrastination. The Bible is full of examples of people who missed their opportunity by hesitating. Solomon wrote, "Whatever your hands find to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge in the grave where you are going" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). In other words, don't leave work unfinished because tomorrow is not always promised.
For some of us, the only way to fulfill God's purpose is to step out in faith and move from areas of comfort to areas of ministry. Not everyone is required to work with at-risk children or be an overseas missionary, but whatever the calling, it is important not to let fear, inexperience, or procrastination be hindrances. With hard work, perseverance, and God all things are possible.
When this article appeared, Jeremy White was a policy and program analyst for Public/Private Ventures, working with faith-based programs for at-risk youth in Washington, D.C.