Friday, October 20, 2006

My Abilities

Heather is doing a series about the Shape of Our Faith. This week's topic is on our abilities.

So, for this week, I am asking that you take a good look back over your life. What abilities do you have? What talents? What have you learned to do or had to do that might be useful to God? Is there anything that you are sure God could never use for His glory? Anything that you are sure He would use? Have you ever been surprised by what He has chosen to use? Why? Has He ever used your weakness when you expected Him to use your strength? Has He ever grown you through a weakness in your ability? Have you ever jumped in and used an ability and realized that it was not His will?

Many things come easily to me. I tend to be a quick learner, I can do new things easily and teach myself as I go along. I am not a perfectionist, so I can give things the amount of effort that is sufficient for the job, instead of stressing myself out over minor details. I am learning that these traits of mine (whether nurture or nature) help me to do a lot of things for the Lord, as needed. Specifically, my talents and spiritual gifts are in teaching and exhorting with a dab of hospitality and encouragement thrown in, and tied up with a nice bow of leadership (but not necessarily the details of administration).

Have I ever jumped in an used an ability and realized it wasn't His will? Yes. I was asked to be the assistant coordinator for the ladies' retreat at a church which I had been attending for less than a year. It turns out that a big part of the job was in recruiting the people to head up the various committees. I didn't really know a lot of people, so this was hard for me. Then, the coordinator's husband became very ill, so I basically planned most of it on my own. I floundered. I think that the retreat turned out okay, but I felt disorganized, unsuccessful and unfulfilled. Now before saying yes, I make sure that I fully understand what is involved, instead of just assuming that I can handle it.

From that experience, I learned that even though I can fill in to a spot in a pinch, I should really make sure that a new long term ministry fits into my heart's passion, which I believe has been planted by God. Is it something I really want to do? Is it something that the Lord really wants me to do? I love encouraging others (especially women) to study the Bible and make life-changing application from it. I have also enjoyed teaching children, especially lately. It was something that I didn't necessarily see as a calling, but my gifts fit it, there's always a need, and now God is really using it and filling my heart with a real love for it.

Because of this self-confidence and God-given ease in doing a lot of things, my biggest weakness is pride. So, to answer the question about my weaknesses being used--yes, they have been. As I have become aware of my pride, and tried to clothe myself in humility, I have had a few instances where I needed to teach or lead and did not have the time to prepare. Instead, I took the time to pray. It has been absolutely amazing to see God combine my talents and abilities with His power and choice to work in me. When I am serving Him, I do think that the work deserves nothing but my best effort, but I have to say that the times when I didn't have the effort to give are the times that stand out as "my best" work.

What's the Shape of Your Faith? Link up each Friday at Graced by Christ.


Anonymous said...

Jennifer this is beautiful. I think we all struggle with pride. I thought of something that I heard while reading your posts. Someone in my church said, "don't volunteer for everything, because you might be pushing out someone that needs a little nudge to get involved." We have women that like to do all things, in all areas. And you know that is not God's wish, he gaves us all different abilities to use in different ways. But if we have certain women jumping in all the time "saying yes" someone that is a little on the shy side might shy away. Maybe they just need a little encoragement and then stand back and watch them shine.

Great post.

Susanne said...

I think it's wonderful that you recognize your abilities and are able to put them before God to use. I love your sentence on asking yourself is it fitting into your heart's passion or is it filling in a pinch? Sometimes it's so easy to just say yes when you know you have an ability to fill the job and then resent the job. And I love Laurel's comment on allowing others to be raised up also.

Rebecca said...

That is the coolest thing ever!

I run into so many people who don't want to even consider what their spiritual gifts might be, some very busy serving and others not.

Okay, now I'm going to go back and read the post more carefully ... I may be back!