“God called me. God equipped me. God empowered me. God opened doors for me. So my qualifications, or lack thereof, were relatively irrelevant.”
Unqualified is the fourth book by Steven Furtick, the hip, 30’s year-old lead pastor of the thriving Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. The book is subtitled “How God uses broken people to do big things”.
According to Furtick, the subject has always been one that troubled him. But he finally wrote the book after discovering a YouTube video of a favorite Christian pastor and theologian commenting on him, which he discusses at the outset.
“What comes to your mind when you hear the name Steven Furtick?”
The theologian sighed and dropped his head, signifying that the mere consideration of my name was wearisome. That got the crowd chuckling. Apparently they knew he wasn’t a fan.
Long, pained pause. Agonized grimace. Bone-chilling stare.
Then the verdict.
He delivered the four syllables with a disgust that underscored the gravity and finality of his pronouncement. Only the gavel sound effect was missing.
Furtick says that Unqualified was not written in reaction to this minister, although we can be sure that the incident lent inspiration to a topic that already weighed on his mind. He explains that he wished to finally determine how to respond to that concern within himself—“If the whispers of doubt that regularly rattle through my head are inner demons to be ignored—or warning bells to be heeded.”
Tell Me Who I Am: A Synopsis
Unqualified drills to the core of our identity in Christ. Furtick begins searchingly to know who or what has the ability to qualify one for God’s service. “Who has the ultimate right to determine if you are a success or failure?” He immediately discounts culture and its tendency to ingrain in people a mentality of comparing themselves to others, something Paul mocks and condemns in 2 Cor. 10:12. All people are sinful; therefore, no human can be a standard of assessment.
He answers his question by stating that our acceptance of three facts is the way we will acquire the freedom and confidence to be what God designed us to be: 1) acceptance of God’s unconditional acceptance of us; 2) acceptance of ourselves, including our weaknesses; and 3) acceptance of God’s process of change. These tenets provide a framework for the rest of the book.
Early on he produces a powerful thesis—“God cannot bless who you pretend to be”—and with it highlights his theme in the lives of two patriarchs, Moses and Jacob. He finalizes that God doesn’t call perfect people because there are none. He says the book is about “coming to terms with the good, the bad, and the unmentionable in your life and learning how to let God use your mess for your benefit…about charging into the gap between who you are and who you sense you were meant to be and then connecting with God there.”
One interesting concept throughout the book is called Third Words. When Moses asked the Lord what he should say to the Egyptians when they inquired about God’s name, he was told I Am without further qualification, which meant God would be to Moses all he needed him to be. Furtick explains that although God needs no third words, we do because we’re human and define life through labels. But the labels pinned on us and by us can be damaging and keep us unfulfilled.
Likes and Dislikes
What I loved most about reading Unqualified is Furtick’s tone. If you are familiar with him, you know that Steven is a very transparent person who has no problem discussing his hang-ups and dependency on God. This commoner style characterizes the easy-to-read book. Unqualified is only 208 pages long and contains 12 chapters and an epilogue. It features several endorsements from leading Christian ministries.
What helped me most in the book was Furtick’s explanation that attempting to rid ourselves of weaknesses in order to serve God is futile and unwholesome. Weakness must be embraced and reconciled in the grace of God. We will always be cracked pots bearing divine treasure (2 Cor. 4:7).
The book never bored me. Furtick uses many real-life examples, some of which are funny and whimsical; his language is very relaxed and clearly what appeals to the young moderns he ministers to weekly. The writing is cohesive and nicely builds on its theme.
I cannot recall anything I disliked about Unqualified. I expected “Gospel Lite”, what I deem much of today’s preaching and Christian writing to be. But I was happy to get a very thoughtful Furtick who really draws from his own bouts with this topic and delivers a word from God to those in skirmish.
I received Unqualified from the leader of the men’s ministry at my church and have since led discussions on the book. I highly recommend it for anyone and especially those struggling with God’s love, mistakes or sin, ministry qualifications, mind battles, or the opinions of others. Says Furtick:
It’s about knowing that we are both Jacob and Israel at the same time. We are Jacob because we still struggle with stupid stuff. But we are Israel because God himself has spoken victory over us. True fulfillment is found in accepting both of those realities at the same time.