I heard a wise man say, “In my life I have had many careers, but only one job: displaying the good news of the Gospel.” Powerful words, but what does it mean?
Paul writes to the church at Corinth and tells them that the more they serve, the more they will find themselves privileged to do so. When we are activated in our faith, the Holy Spirit moves in us and we are given gifts. There are many different gifts that all come from the same Spirit; all of us were given the Holy Spirit as an Advocate and Helper. What we have to discover is what that means for us in practical, everyday life.
Have you ever felt ill-equipped for a task? Do you ever feel like you don’t have what it takes? All of us have experienced that from time to time. The good news is, you are equipped and you CAN do it. Max Lucado wrote a book titled, The Cure for the Common Life: Living in your Sweet Spot. In his book, one of the main illustrations is that each of us have been given a back pack full of all the tools we need to live a life sold out to Christ and equipped for every task. We are often tempted to covet someone else’s bag of tools. We may feel that our kit is inadequate. What we are taught in the Bible, however, is that the Holy Spirit has given us the gifts pertinent to our individual task and therefore, our kit is exactly what we will need.
The Holy Spirit decides which gifts each of us should have. We are responsible to use and sharpen our gifts, but we can take no credit for what God has freely given us. So what are your gifts? They may not always be obvious at first. Sometimes they may even seem like a weakness or a negative. I’m reminded of our left-handed friend Ehud from the book of Judges: what men may see as a deficiency, God can use for victory.
As far back as I can remember, I had a very deep voice. Even as a child, I sounded pretty much the same. I remember people calling our house phone and, inevitably, someone would say, “Jim? Matt?” Lovely. I will never forget the first time I heard my voice on a recording. I almost outright vowed to never speak up in class again. The only problem with that? I LOVE to talk. I am social and a people person to the core. When it was time to figure out what I wanted to major in, in college, I decided to use the thing I had previously felt most self-conscious about: TALKING.
I majored in speech communication with the full intention of going into radio. Clearly, that was a career using your VOICE. After a short stint as a DJ at our college radio station, coming back to the NY/NJ metro area was a smack of reality. I didn’t ever get that job in radio. After a few years working in Manhattan, as an assistant property director, I had the opportunity to make a major switch to the non-profit world. A few months earlier, in the basement of one of our buildings in Manhattan, I had asked God what He wanted for my life…how He wanted to use my gift of speech. Out of nowhere, I felt a strange pull towards a faith-based Crisis Pregnancy Center.
Talk about feeling ill-equipped! I had never been pregnant, had done my best to follow the ‘rules’ of what was appropriate before marriage (cough) and had ZERO knowledge of what these women were going through. But, nevertheless, the pull was great. It was clear to me that this was a Divine pull.
I walked into that new role with great fear and trembling. I became the Director of one of the Crisis Pregnancy Center’s urban locations. The first time I went into the counseling room to counsel a pregnant teen was the most inadequate I’ve ever felt in my entire life. What was I going to say? How would I reach women who’s lives were so very different than mine? How would I bridge cultural, ethnic, and LIFESTYLE gaps with only my words?
It wasn’t long before I realized I was doing all I had ever dreamed of doing…using my words to bring life (in a very literal sense in this instance!) Each time I left a counseling room and had touched a life, I felt God ALL over it. Somehow, He was giving me the ability to speak the words that woman needed to hear. It certainly was not me. It was the Holy Spirit, being my ultimate Helper.
That time in my life has ended for now, but what I’ve noticed is that even when your position in life changes, the theme and gifting of your life does not. God uses us, mere vessels, to be His hands and feet, each of us with specific gifts. Never feel inadequate. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate & Help. What do we have to fear?
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…” - John 14:16