What Are Your Gifts? Passion For Service Part 2

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. © Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

During the months of January and February, I’m teaching a workshop at my church about finding your service passion. After we spend a few sessions defining our service passion, we will be creating vision boards to help us focus our efforts on the right areas to support our service.  This blog will provide brief summaries of the previous classes in order to help people stay up to date if they can’t attend or have missed a session.

Last week’s post:  Finding Your Passion for Service

Let’s look at a passage often used when exploring Christian gifts, I Corinthians 12:1-11:

1Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

There is one Spirit but many gifts.

We have a tendency to look at what someone else is doing and evaluate our own service by their standard. That’s not fair to us or the other person. We have one Spirit who provides different gifts to different people. If we try to serve in an area where we aren’t gifted, we might not reap the rewards of our service and neither will the people we’re trying to serve.

Many years ago, I learned that my gift is not teaching the children’s Bible classes. How? By agreeing to teach a class for the summer. Yes, I’m a teacher and love teaching…adults or young adults. I don’t have the talents necessary to keep a group of kids focused on a lesson in a fun way. This doesn’t mean I’m not good with kids. I’m good with kids on a small level. I just don’t fit when it comes to a long-term commitment to teaching them. I know this, and even though the pleas for Sunday School teachers move my Christian heart, I know it’s not where I’m meant to serve. It’s not my gift.

This doesn’t mean we don’t have gifts we haven’t used. Someone else might see them in you before you do. In the sixth grade, a friend of mine told me I was a leader. I stared at her like she had three eyes and horns. Me? A leader? I wasn’t even popular. Yet, in my adult life, I’ve discovered the truth to her statement. I love to lead!

The Bible is filled with people who didn’t believe they could do what God asked them to do. Moses didn’t believe he could speak for the Israelites. Sarah did not believe she’d have the child God promised Abraham. Jonah did not believe he could deliver God’s message to Ninevah. Yet, God knew what they could do and refused to let them turn away from their destinies.

How do you discover your gifts?

Awareness of your gifts comes from answering some tough questions. I asked the participants on Wednesday night to take ten minutes and write their answers to the following questions. I suggest you do it, too, especially if you’re planning to attend this class. Even if you’re not, these questions can lead you down the path of discovering potential areas of service.

  1. What are you good at? (Don’t stick to “God” topics here. All interests and hobbies are useful.)
  2. What do people who know you well say you’re good at?
  3. What skills/areas/topics do you have a great deal of knowledge or experience in?
  4. What would you do with any additional time if you found a way to give it to yourself?  (Think outside the box.  Do not limit yourself here.)
  5. What are the top three obstacles preventing you from focusing on any of the items you’ve listed in questions 1-4?
  6. What are the top three things you think you must do in order to focus on them?

Don’t worry if you find these questions difficult to answer. They often are.

After everyone wrote their answers, we split up into groups of two or three to discuss what they learned, realized, or felt as they considered these questions.

A great way to dig deeper is to ask a spouse, child, best friend, or co-worker how they would answer these questions about you. I recommend asking at least two people, especially if one is your spouse (spouses tend to use rose-colored glasses or a magnifying glass).

As you explore these questions, look for areas of service you haven’t considered yet. It might be at work, or home, or with a neighbor, or as part of a club.

I pray these questions help you begin to open your eyes to the potential you have for service.

Advertisements

Finding Your Passion For Service

Image courtesy of freeimages.com/kliverap

During the months of January and February, I’m teaching a women’s Bible workshop at my church called:  Defining Your Passion for Service Through Vision Boarding.

As each session of the workshop builds on the next, I’m going to post summaries of the past Wednesday night’s materials each Friday  on this blog. Hopefully, this will help those who miss a session and maybe inspire those of you who are not local.

First of all, let me share the course’s description:

We want to serve God and His people, but are we choosing the best way to do that? Are we missing opportunities that match our gifts and interests? Are we committing to areas that don’t fulfill us? This 8-week workshop will help you discover how to focus your life on the best way for you to serve Him. Each participant will discover their individual vision and mission and create a vision board to help them achieve it. Already have a vision board? This is a great opportunity to update it and explore any changes that may have occurred in your walk with Christ.

 

So, yes, this class will eventually lead to your personal mission, vision, and the creation of a vision board to help you remain focused. But we’re not ready for those steps yet. First, we need to explore our mindsets and values and the information we can glean from the word of God.

’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

Often, we hear this verse in relation to a crisis. People use it to give hope to someone who’s struggling; however, if we look at the larger context of the verse, we can learn something else.

In Jeremiah 28, Hananiah misleads the exiles in Babylon by prophesying that God will return all of the Lord’s valuable items and people within two years. Jeremiah calls him to task for being a false prophet. This is the last verse of chapter 28:  In the seventh month of that same year, Hananiah the prophet died.

In the next chapter, we find Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles outlining what God wants them to know AND do:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:4-11

 

This changes the way we look at verse 11. God is telling the people to focus on living their lives where they are, not to hope for the downfall of the Babylonians any time soon. In fact, he tells them to pray for Babylon to prosper! Then, in verse 10, he tells them he will bring them out of Babylon in seventy years! Whoa! I can only imagine how the exiles felt about this prophecy.

Why is this important to consider as we explore our potential lives of service? I don’t want us to miss opportunities because they aren’t the ones we want. The Bible is full of people called to do a service they didn’t desire. Remember Moses? How about Jonah? I’m sure you can think of many other examples. So, before we move on to defining our service areas, I want us to drop the barriers to the areas we don’t want or like. It’s possible you’ll define service areas that appeal greatly to you. God does want us to be joyful and happy in our faith, but don’t be surprised if that joy comes from an unexpected place.

Your thoughts?