What spiritual gifts do you believe you have?
Are you content with what gifts you believe God has given you?
How well do you fit and work together with others who are different but can complement your gifts?
God gives us instructions. He deals with us as a general group of people, yet He also communicates with and relates to us individually. He is personal. He keeps the whole in mind and intends for us to serve alongside each other, working together to accomplish His work; yet He gives each of us very specific gifts, instructions, and timing. He has certainly not created drones.
Life—and faith—isn’t about uniformity. It’s about unity in God’s will and conformity to Him. We live by the same standards, but we lead different lives. We have different struggles, personalities, and experiences. We have different relationships, abilities, and weaknesses. He knows the details of each of us, and He invites us to be unique in the ways He’s created us…but unified together for His purpose. He doesn’t want us to be the same with each other…just the same with Him. Of course, that means as we conform to Him, we will have many similarities. But we will never become drones that follow the exact same pattern of life.
As we follow God well, we have a lot of freedom. We don’t have to demand everyone else respond to the instructions in the exact same way that we do. We don’t need to copy or envy someone else’s work because we like it. We need to follow God and be creative. After all, He is creative, and He made us in His image.
As you walk behind or sit with someone today, try to carry yourself, walk, sit, and gesture in the same way as him or her for at least one minute. How uncomfortable is it? Celebrate your differences as well as similarities. Thank God for your uniqueness.
Look, I have selected your fellow Levites from the Israelites as a gift for you, assigned by the Lord to work at the tent of meeting. But you and your sons will carry out your priestly responsibilities for everything concerning the altar and for what is inside the veil, and you will do that work. I am giving you the work of the priesthood as a gift. (Numbers 18:6-7a)
We receive gifts from God. We like gifts.
God’s gifts are assigned. He designates them to us, as individuals and as communities in which He places us throughout seasons of our lives.
We like the honor, but we don’t always like the responsibility that comes along with the assignment. Assignment feels so…obligatory.
Yes. Our relationship with God includes responsibility. He doesn’t demand it, because He wants our willing response, but as our relationship with God deepens, we better understand the responsibility He extends to us. We accept it more fully. It excites us, yet burdens us, too. We know it is a blessing, and sometimes it feels thrilling, but it also feels confusing and uncomfortable and unrelenting.
When we’re honest with ourselves and with God, we listen for assignments and we let God challenge us to change and grow along the way. We receive His gifts not like we receive annual birthday gifts but as a humble recipient of an award we’re not sure we deserve. We open them with uncertainty of what we’ll do with it but with trust that God is certain and will let us discover the gift and fulfill His assignment one step at a time.
Being capable and actually doing something are two different things.
I listened to someone’s plans and wanted to say,
“I know you can. But I don’t know if you will.”
I didn’t actually say it. (I’m usually thankful when I engage my filter.) I was fairly confident it wouldn’t be received in the way I meant it. I had full confidence of the person’s ability. I didn’t want to ebb away what confidence she had. I wanted to build her up. At the same time, I didn’t want to give her false confidence. Just because she’s capable of doing well doesn’t mean she’ll apply herself, approach challenges humbly, learn from disappointments and failures, and persevere. She can but only time will tell if she will.
Isn’t that the truth with all of us?
God equips us with so much. The gifts He gives us are abundantly sufficient to accomplish what He intends for us. But what accomplishments He plans for us might not be our perfect idea of accomplishments. What He knows is sufficient can seem inadequate when we face challenges. His gifts might seem to be misfits for us. We prefer to do things our own way, with our own sense of comfort or adventure, our own definitions of our successes, failures, and progress, and our own timelines.
If we’re going to actually do the thing God purposes for us, we’re going to have to trust that He has made us capable. More accurately, He is in the process of making us capable. We have to take the step of faith beyond believing we are capable into action steps into His purpose and plan. It is only then that we find true, sufficient satisfaction.