Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Gifts and hats
“A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. 1 COR 12:7
This morning’s blog came to me in stages. This morning , a verse in 1 Corinthians 1 caught my attention. An hour later, as I was talking with Scott about an issue at work I have been struggling with, he gave me some advice that I have given to someone else recently. That triggered the memory of what Mama Toni shared at Women’s Bible Study about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, which in turn sent me searching for a passage I remembered reading in Romans last week. The way this blog came together reminded me of the verse that talks about God’s word being taught “line upon line, precept upon precept”. The pieces were falling into place and I felt like God was really speaking to me.
“I don’t remember baptizing anyone else. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News- and not with clever speeches and high sounding ideas, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power. 1 Cor. 1:16b-17
Paul was dealing with divisions in the church, people boasting they were following Paul or Peter or Appollos, or Christ alone. It was creating cliques and turmoil in the church. So he was writing to address this problem, saying he had only baptized a few people. Then, what hit me, was his statement of purpose. “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News-“ His major goal was not baptizing, but preaching. Yes, he did baptize a few when needed, but his primary mission was preaching the Gospel. He could have been all side-tracked with baptisms, because I am sure many people would have loved to claim they were baptized by such a man of God as Paul, but that was not his calling. Romans 1 “This letter is from Paul, Jesus Christ’s slave, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach His Good News.” Like the apostles that didn’t get sidetracked by matters of distribution of aid to the widows, he knew his primary mission. Paul was called to be an apostle (watching over the churches) and preaching the Good News. He was determined to stay on track with what God was calling him to do.
“God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”
God has given us each different talents and abilities, which combined with our temperament, our personality, and our past experiences, make us a one of a kind gift to the body. Joyce Meyer always says not to focus all our energy into improving our skill level in our weak areas, but to concentrate on what we are gifted at and do that well. If you are not gifted with an aptitude for math, God is not going to call you to be church treasurer. But you may have a gift for music, and He might call you to use that. If you were all obsessed with taking math courses because you’re not good at that, you might not have the time to practice your musical talents. This passage tell us to find what God has gifted us to do, and do it to the best of our ability. Our love and joy in doing what God has created us to do will shine through, and like the passage says, it will “help the entire church”. People doing what God has gifted them with and given them a heart for will be happy servants of the Lord. If you are trying to do something you have no gift for, you are often stressed and struggling.
Paul knew it was good for him to concentrate on God was calling him to do. There were other people there to baptize, to organize the helps ministry, and to pastor the church. He did his job of overseeing and preaching the Gospel, and didn’t get sidetracked on daisy trails. He preached “not with clever speeches and high sounding ideas, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power” . If we get caught up in side trails, the gift Christ has given us loses it’s power, because we are too worn out to do it well. The body is made up of many parts, and we need to let each one do their own part. Sometimes I think we feel we have to wear a lot of hats in the church, but maybe by wearing the hats we are not called to, just so a ministry position doesn’t go unstaffed hurts us all. Maybe we are keeping someone else who is gifted from stepping into that position. Or maybe, that ministry needs to be changed or laid aside for a season, or even discontinued. Seasons come and go, even in a church, and the sweaters you needed in the winter are overkill to layer on in the summer. We don’t feel guilty for packing away the winter clothes every summer, yet why do we feel bad about packing away a program that is not needed at the current time in the church? Sometimes when the need for a ministry passes, or the grace has lifted from your involvement in it, it’s time to make changes. For us, there was a season that Scott and I were youth leaders. We enjoyed doing it, it filled a need in the church, yet there came a time that we realized it was time to hand the ministry over to someone who had the gift and the vision for it. We didn’t feel bad about it, because we knew God was saying it was time to pass the baton.
I wear a lot of hats. My heart has been crying out for change, but maybe I have been too busy balancing my hats to see what treasures God has in store for me. I think what God is saying to me is to listen to what He is saying, and pass off the hats that He is not calling me to wear right now. It’s time for fall cleaning, time to look at each hat, and ask God if this is something I am supposed to be doing in this season of my life. Then, when I have passed on the hats I am not supposed to have, He may pass a new one my way, and I won’t be too stressed or worn out to enjoy it.
Find what you love to do, and God will help you find a way to use your gifts to be a blessing to those around you. Go buy yourself a new hat to remind you of the joy He wants you to have in serving Him!
With love and prayers, and many thanks for all your encouragement!