Gifts and Humility

I remember as a new Christian hearing so much about spiritual gifts.  How to find your gift!  How to develop your gift!  Primary gifts!  Secondary gifts! Laying on of hands for gifts!  And for some reason I got really hung up on it and it caused me a lot of stress.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to figure out my gifts and start popping out spiritual “fruit” and ASAP.

I’ve learned so much along the way that I’d like to share….

First of all, RELAX.  Don’t sweat the fruit or the gifts.  An apple tree isn’t grunting out apples.  There’s no flexing or straining, though that’s an hilarious image.  When we relax into God’s presence, when we feed on his word, when the sonshine shines on us; that fruit is going to come forth in season and it’ll will be a natural by product of our walk with God.

Your spiritual gift is going to be something that comes naturally to you.  For instance; I’m an introvert and I’d be a terrible evangelist.  That’s ok, because we’re not all called to that.  What I do really enjoy is quiet time with God in which I unearth treasures from his Word and eagerly share with others through my writing.  I’m a writer.  It’s who I am.  It comes naturally.  I may never witness to a stranger on the bus but I am witnessing to whoever happens across the things I have written.

Another thing to realize is that just because there is a need, and we have a mandate to serve- doesn’t mean we are called to everything, all the time.  In our old church there was a growing sense of resentment for me.  The church was a small one, in a small town, so there were a lot of older people.  There were also a lot of young families.  There was a need for workers in the nursery but no one wanted to be in the nursery.  The older people would bring their young grandchildren and expect there to be someone volunteering, but of course it wouldn’t be them.  They had to make coffee in the kitchen.  So I ended up in the nursery an inordinate amount of time.  I also volunteered to teach the young kids on Wednesday night (again, no one else wanted to).  It was an absolutely terrible fit.  I was awful at it.  This thing began to feel like a giant, life-sucking burden in my life.  If you’re trying to do something for God that he never called you to, that’s how it is going to feel.  However, if you’re operating in your God-given gifts, for His glory, it will be rewarding and even fun.

I’m not called, or anointed to teach children.  I love ’em but I’m just not gifted in that area.  In fact I was so bad that the pastor’s wife was looking for someone to replace me (unbeknownst to me) in the announcements during the church service (of course, I didn’t hear them, I was in the nursery) they made announcements until someone else eventually stepped up.  I was fired from a volunteer position.  Sometimes when you get involved in church you see that there are situations where people don’t handle things with integrity.  If she had come to me and said, “look, toots, you’re sweet and all but not a great fit for this role.”  I would have sighed in relief and graciously stepped down.  But people in pews are just people too.  We ultimately left the church but there aren’t hard feelings.  We wanted a church were we felt like our children were welcomed into a solid children’s ministry.

A different instance occurred where I had gifting but a lack of humility, it was a painful scenario that happened about 7 years ago.  I got invited to a Bible study hosted by another young woman who was a very new believer.  She wasn’t as versed in the Word as I was.  I corrected her a few times and was sort of “taking over” the study.  I had the knowledge and gifting but the wisdom and humility weren’t developed to match.  Our friendship ended over it and I was basically booted from the group.  It was very painful at the time but became an opportunity for me to grow.

Even at this point in my life I am working hard to use my gifting to serve God.  It’s for a very small “audience” and I have hope and dreams for a wider platform but that hasn’t happened yet.  I firmly, 100% believe that when the time is right, God will open the doors and bring a spiritual promotion.  I don’t promote my blog at.all. because I want to be waiting on God.  I have more than a sneaking suspicion that God is putting me through this extended waiting process in obscurity because the approval of man is still way too important to me.  If I had more success now it’d be easy for it to go to my head and make it all about me.  If I am swayed by people’s opinion I won’t be the solid, godly teacher that God needs me to be- A vessel that is pure that he can use.

This scenario is echoed again and again in scripture.  One of my favorites is that of Joseph.  Joseph was richly blessed by God.  He was the apple of his father’s eye.  He had a strong spiritual anointing to the point where he was having dreams and visions.  His future was so bright he needed shades 😉  But then he experienced what had to have looked like a complete abandonment by God and the utter ruin of his life; when his jealous brothers sold him into slavery.  Then, he was just working his way to the top (as much as he could as a slave) when his master’s (shameless hussy of a) wife threw herself at him.  He, being a godly young man, rebuffed her advances.  She couldn’t handle the rejection, accused him of rape, and he was thrown into the worst hell hole of a prison you can imagine.  He did get out of that prison though and became instrumental in saving countless lives from famine.  He even saved and was reconciled to his brothers.  God knew he needed the struggle to develop the character and humility that he would need to be this great savior in his time.  The gifting, the call was always there.  The humility and wisdom needed to catch up.

All this to say, in this age where everyone promotes themselves, go against the grain.  Embrace the quiet and solitude that only comes with knowing God in the secret place.  The place where you won’t get any recognition or accolades from man, but you’ll have a prime spot to hear from God.  Trust that God’s timing is best.  He’s working things out in advance for you.  While you’re waiting do everything you can to prepare yourself for the dreams and hopes that he’s placed in your heart.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 

 

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Writing and Calling

Lately I’ve been thinking about the nature of our calling and how we practically walk that out.

I’ve known since first grade that I loved writing and wanted to be a writer.  It’s been a bumpy road to actually start though.  For so long I wanted to write, and not just write but fulfill the calling I felt.  I would feel like the Holy Spirit illuminated things to me in my time with him and I wanted to share with others.

What I was lacking was technical skills.  During my years in high school I was not a great student and went to an alternative school where we mostly just got credit for showing up.  I have zero college.

I just started though.  I had no idea how to set up a blog so I started writing little notes on Facebook.  Starting this blog was a big step as well.  Still, I’ve really struggled with wanting to just delete everything because of personal insecurity.  While I want my platform to grow, I’ll admit that I’m happy that I write in relative obscurity.  I really like to be real and authentic and I write from my heart…which is what I want but it also leaves me vulnerable to criticism.

I read a blog from a fellow INFJ recently that addressed our need to be validated https://ispeakpeople.com/validation/  Do I relate?  uh…yeah!  sallyI feel you, Sally.  The struggle is real!

About a year and half ago I joined a question and answer website (ah heck, it was quora)….  I was looking for answers on my then little pup and his biting.  I got sucked in.  I can offer advice online to strangers?  People care what I have to say?  People asking me for HELP!  Yes, please!

I went from having a few people read my stuff to thousands.  I was getting all kinds of recognition that I hadn’t gotten before.  It was dizzying and exciting and wonderful.

The approval went to my head and the entire thing became an idol to me.  I knew without a doubt it was coming between God and myself.  But it was so hard for me to give it up.  After months of tug and war, and becoming increasingly miserable, I did.

Now I’m back to writing for a very small audience.  I know that God has a call on my life.  I hope for more.  But I realized that all along I was seeking the dreams God had put on my heart more than God himself.  The dreams were all good.  I genuinely want to help people.  I genuinely want to write in a way that glorifies God.  But… do I want that actualization of my dreams more than God himself?

I got a mental picture today in church.  I’ve been feeling pretty isolated lately.  I feel like I’ve gone through a long season of giving things up but I’m still waiting for doors to open, you know?  It’s that tough place in between.  But God put in my mind a mental image during worship today at church- that it’s better to be alone in the desert with God than virtually anywhere else without him.

The desert is his training ground.  It’s sacred ground.  It’s the secret place where he can nurture the character until you can operate in your gift with grace and humility.  Your gift isn’t the be all, end all.  Your character is far more important.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well….” Matthew 6:33

Not going to lie, I know I still need more time.  I still have lessons to learn.  I realize I need to seek God first, and everything else (including opportunities for ministry work) will be like a cherry on the top of the sundae that is knowing God and walking with him intimately.

I also know I have a very (looonnngggg) way to go where I don’t need approval so badly.  It’s just a process.  There’s no way to rush it.  In the mean time I know there are treasures to be found right where I’m at.  Treasures I may not have noticed if I had more “going on” in my life.