Last week church was bustling as we prepared for Vacation Bible School. One day some of the volunteers were asking which adults would be leading each part of VBS, and someone asked, “What is Pastor Bill doing?” Helping teach the bible story. Their response, “Of course he is.” Now you can read what you want into their response, but the whole conversation made me stop and think, should I “branch out” and do something else at VBS this year, is teaching the bible story to “easy”?
Then I thought of these words from God to a man named Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5, TNIV) Before you were even born God already was knitting you together. God did not just knit your body together, but your talents, your tendencies, the way you smile, the total package. So from the beginning God made you with a purpose, with specific skills, talents, and passions to do work for Him in this world. Often though we are encouraged to branch out and try new things. Are we trying so hard to branch out that we ignore the God-given strengths placed inside of us?
Using your strengths is not code to use your strength in the same specific way all the time. In fact, it might be a call to be more creative than you have been before. Say you have a passion for helping people. You used to volunteer at a food pantry loading boxes each weekend, but your schedule at work changed or you started a family, and can’t give that time anymore. So does that mean you won’t be able to use that gift anymore. Instead, that should be an opportunity to say what are some other ways that I can put that skill to use? Are there some people on my block who I could rake leaves for in the fall? Or babysit for someone, or help them paint their house? The question is not, how do I keep using my gifts in the same way? But how can I use my gifts to meet needs, or use my gifts to build up others?
Take some time to reflect on what some of those gifts are that you have, because we are told in 1 Corinthians 12:7-8 “To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another….” and the list continues because there are a variety of gifts given, and each of us have some.
I finally decided that I would teach the bible lessons, and that I would not try something different like leading arts and crafts, because there are small children who have more gifts in that area that I do (although I did get asked to help prep for arts and crafts one day, and I was told I did ok). Instead we have to ask ourselves how can we best use the gifts that we have been given in a creative, innovative way that make an impact, and change lives. At the end of the day the question is less about what gifts do you have because we all have some, but instead how am I going to use the gifts I was made with to make a difference?