Returning from a recent business trip I found myself reflecting on one of the points shared by our featured motivational speaker – the idea of identifying what you’re good at and becoming great at it. In the past I have read several books about discovering my strengths and using them with intention to reach my professional goals. There are many tests designed to help identify strengths, including something as simple as keeping track of your daily activities to ascertain those that leave you feeling energized (strengths) as opposed to drained.
During a recent gathering of our Bible study group, we were each asked what gifts God had uniquely equipped us with. Several women could not come up with an answer, so the rest of us shared our observations of the gifts we felt they possessed. It turned into a wonderful hour of encouraging each other in our areas of strength. I believe some of the women were truly inspired in a way that could change their lives, provided they put their strengths to work. So many of us have been beaten down by life, discouraged to the point we believe we are void of any strengths at all. We can’t see beyond the message of unworthiness that life experiences have laid on us.
I really enjoy writing and speaking and have been urged to by several people. But, as much as I’d love to, I have dismissed the idea over and over as only a dream. Sometimes we think spiritual gifts must feel sacrificial, like work. It took an onslaught of such concentrated affirmation, like a mack truck heading for me, that ignoring it felt like disobeying God.
God did not uniquely equip each of us with talents to be unused and wasted! Yet we receive them and hone them through life experiences, then store them up for… what? A recent leader at our Apologetics conference said he was hoping to equip us with historical facts to support our faith and launch us to us our gifts. It’s as if we need to be poked and prodded, doubting our calling, while we waste the precious time he has given us to put our gifts to use.
1 Corinthians 12 is a beautiful passage about spiritual gifts. If you, like me, doubt your abilities or question whether you should pursue a calling or gift that gives you such joy that it energizes you, think again. Satan would love you to continue to wallow in self-doubt, believing you are unworthy of responding. He would love you to ignore what God has equipped you to do. Someone out there needs you to use your God-given talents and gifts.
It took me a long time to recognize the compliments of others as an endorsement of my calling to write. Even now it sounds so arrogant. But, on top of the inspiration of others and multiple messages relating to gifts and using them, I had a sense of confirmation that I can’t explain. Yet, after enthusiastically responding and figuring out how to start this blog, I keep wavering! Two days ago I was discouraged and feeling silly for believing anyone beyond my biased family would care to read anything I wrote. Then, after hearing the motivational speaker at our business meeting tell me once again to discover my purpose and use my gifts, I checked my email and found a comment posted to my blog by a total stranger. Standing in line for my autographed copy of our speaker’s book I wanted to scream and dance, celebrating my persistent God who repeats his message over and over in order to get it through my thick skull!
The enemy wants us bogged down with shame over our sins, with regret over our actions and living in perpetual disappointment over our shortcomings. But, God is so much greater than the enemy we so often surrender our talents to!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory…. that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:3-14, 17-21
Just as God equipped the apostles and disciples, he has equipped and commissioned you and me. Let’s not let each other waste our God-given abilities because of the enemy’s intimidation. Please join me in boldly using your gifts and talents to glorify God. If you don’t know where your talents lie, ask others. And if you recognize abilities in others, let them know – you might just be the reinforcement they need to launch!