God Doesn’t Use Ordinary People
We need to stop using David and 1 Samuel 17 as an example that “God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.” David wasn’t ordinary. He came from a fairly ordinary family and started in an ordinary job, but his skill set was remarkably extraordinary. Two of these skills proved to be instrumental in catapulting David into a position where he could do amazing things for God:
David was skilled with a sling. I don’t believe David would have even had the courage to face Goliath had he not had great confidence in his ability as a slinger. I’m not discounting God’s provision in allowing the stone to find its mark, but the accuracy (“it struck the Philistine on the forehead”) and speed (“The stone sank into his forehead”) with which he hurled the single projectile proved how much time he had devoted to honing this particular ability. The fact that the Bible even records his selection of ammunition—five smooth stones—is a testament to the care he took when performing his craft.
David was a talented musician. Before the encounter with Goliath, David already had his foot in the door with royalty. In the previous chapter when Saul was vexed by an evil spirit and his advisors suggested that music might help, David’s name was at the top of the list. I can’t believe that King Saul would tolerate anything less than the best harpist he could find. David had obviously practiced an incredible amount of time to ensure that he mastered the instrument before it ever proved to be valuable.
These skills were developed while David was young. He, no doubt, had practiced and trained in private for years before he ever showcased his abilities in public. They were fairly mundane and common proficiencies that anyone with a little drive and determination could have cultivated, but David recognized that he had some aptitude and grew them into very valuable skills.
So instead of telling young Christians that God can use ordinary people, I believe we should be telling them:
- Discover your valuable natural abilities and interests.
- Work tirelessly to hone those talents into extraordinary skills.
- Search for ways to bring glory to God using those amazing abilities.
- When God presents you with an opportunity to use your expertise, recognize His leading and go for it! Go play for the King! Go slay the giant!
God can use ordinary people, but if you study the Bible you’ll find that, most of the time, the ordinary people He used had already developed extraordinary skills.