Lately I have had the opportunity to talk to others about gifts. It seems to have followed me this summer along with what “investment” means these days. I mentioned this in an earlier post about some things recently learned a week or so back. Sort of came up in some random conversations that evolved into discussions about gifts. I have always been alarmed when I hear or see people try to bypass what is so apparently a God-given gift to try to do something else just because they believe it may take them further. I am even more alarmed (and sometimes frustrated) when I hear things like “I’m not smart enough to do that!” or “Why can’t I do what you do?”
The scripture that most often comes to mind is I Corinthians 12. This is another passage (and probably the most familiar one) about spiritual gifts. And the entire passage is far too rich and long to even remotely explore in this post. There are several verses, though, that stand out. The ones included here are from the New International Version.
Verse 11: All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
Verse 14: Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Verses 18: But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. (Emphasis mine.)
Verse 27: Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Do you see a pattern here? Trust me – there is one.
I was older before I accepted or really even acknowledged my gifts. I knew I was a thinker, analytical (to a fault sometimes still – with apologies to my friends!) and could get things done. I could take something chaotic and sort it into something that made sense BUT I never saw that as a gift. I was responsible, a finisher, had little sense of humor and almost zero tolerance for those who did not step up and do what I honestly believed everyone should be able to do. I got there on time (early), listened to instructions (who does that?) and would sigh deeply (ask ANY choir member) and repeat information I had to others who never thought about listening or paying attention! Seriously – I mean, if I could do it, why couldn’t they?
Yes – I had other interests – still do – music was and is the thing that brings me the most joy and pleasure and peace. I enjoyed teaching kids to swim and how to survive in the woods (Girl Scouts) and to be leaders. I love to GO. I was visionary enough to take a new idea and to successfully implement it but seldom lived over the edge, risk wise – just seemed to know where the edge was. I was was an excellent “firefighter” (crisis manager) but I honestly don’t know why anyone would choose to do that. Yet, I wanted to be something other than what/who I was because I saw myself as boring! In all honesty, some days I still see myself that way.
I certainly was in my mid 30’s before I realized that God had not made a mistake – He had “gifted” me to be able to serve Him as HE needed!! My prayers asking Him to do something different with me were answered by “Grow where I planted you” and “You are where I want you to be and who I want you to be – trust Me.” It was difficult, but I finally, after struggling, understood. I was just one part of His Body – and my role was specific to the gifts He gave me. To ignore that and turn from Him would be nothing but misery. I.had.to.trust.Him.
As I got older, I saw more clearly how I could use my gifts to help others who are far different from me in their gifts find stability in areas where they are not comfortable because I AM comfortable there. I have also learned when I do this, I am the one most blessed.
Looking at it from the other side – those gifts I wanted but didn’t get, I realize that those parts of the body that are otherwise gifted are the ones who minister to me – be it doctors, or musicians, or teachers or craftsmen or whatever. And just like my gifts required me to invest time and energy in developing them for His glory, so do the gifts of others. When skimming Facebook this week, I saw this post that really brought this home. It compares med students (lifesavers) and musicians (another form of lifesaver, in this context) but it could be comparing any different gifts. You see, we should all approach what we are charged to do this way. See what you think.
The bottom line: Be thankful for what God GIVES. Commit yourself to excellence in what God CALLS you to do. Do not abuse the GIFT or the CALL. Do not ignore it. Do not downplay it. Someone out there needs what God has placed within you to offer.
Still Choosing Joy