WHAT IF THE FOOT SHOULD SAY TO THE HAND WHY ARE YOU SO TOEY?
One of the best gifts you can receive is the knowledge of who you are. It is a tragic thing to go through life thinking that you something that you are not. If you have people in your life who care enough for you to tell you that you are not what you are trying to be, or that you are "this", then you are very blessed! This particular knowledge is particulalry needed within the church.
First Corinthians 12:15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.
Do you know who you are and what you are not? I've seen several spiritual gift surveys. Shortly after Kim became a Christian she took one of these spiritual gift surveys which her local church promoted. It revealed that her spiritual gift was: "martyr". Now you have to admit, this is a spiritual gift that you can only use once! While these spiritual gift surveys can be helpful, I think the most reliable way to ascertain who God has made you, and which gifts He has given you, comes from those who know you best.
I grew up in Geelong and attended a church where people were encouraged to use their gifts. There was one particular girl who was convinced that God had called her to be a singer. When she sang in a group you really couldn't tell that she couldn't sing in key, pitch her voice, breathe in the right places, or keep in time. But when she sang solo, these faults were obvious to all - except to her! To my knowledge, no-one ever told her the truth.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;Romans 12:6
We all tend to look at the world through our particular gifts. If we have the gifts of mercy and exhortation, we may wonder why others are so cold, aloof, and uncaring. If we have the gift of administration we may wonder why others are so disorganised. The danger with any particular gifting is the same danger as not appreciating the gifting of others - we fail to understand why others don't understand us and aren't more like us.
I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
I think I've figured out who I am. This has involved realising which gifts God has given me. It has also involved how I best express those gifts. And it has involved accepting how I need to steward what God has given me and given me to do.
While I enjoy teaching, training, and leading, there are times when stewarding those responsibilities is hard work, long hours, and subject to harsh criticism. But I've discovered that when I focus on the areas of responsibilities which God has given me (pastoring the church through teaching, producing outreach multimedia, writing apologetic and theological articles, managing staff, training leaders, giving Biblical counsel) I am most fulfilled - despite having to pay the price for this stewardship. When you come to know who God has made you to be and what gifts He has given you, you too may discover that others will be disappointed with who you are not.
This is why we not only need each other in the church, we need to understand (each other, and) how we complement each other. When we start doing this we are less likely to be monocular (seeing everything through our one lens) and more able to be multi-ocular (seeing things through the giftings of others). People who only view the church through their lens become unfairly critical of others who do not have their gift lens. They can become self-fulfilling prophets with 'prophecies' like I bet no one will reach out to me in church today. I'll come in late, sit in the corner, keep my arms folded, not smile, and leave early. This is an unfair 'prophecy'. It fails to appreciate that others have different gifts, different needs, different personalities and different social awareness skills. By the way, the person who regularly makes this kind of prophecy about the various churches they have "tried" and have discovered the same thing probably needs to ask the difficult question: What element in each of these church visits was the same? Rather than coming to church with a critical, fault-finding, self-fulfilling prophecy, it is better to participate in church with a prayerful, open-to-God, celebrate the different gifts/personalities/ministries of others, how-can-I-share-my-gifts-here, attitude.
Our church is growing. We are also growing in our appreciation of who we each are. When I came to Legana some 16 years ago, those in the church had preconceived ideas about who I was and what God enabled me to do. It didn't take long before they were shocked and disappointed. Many of these people voted with their feet. Some of them wrote nasty letters to me as they left. Some who left slandered me. But a few recognised that God had clearly called us here and that God had also called them to here too. These dear long-suffering folk endured their pastor's shortcomings and failings and stayed. Over the years some people have come with preconceived ideas about what a pastor is and what a church does, and have been disappointed, and have left. Others have come, been challenged, accepted the challenge that church is a body of diverse members who have differing gifts, differing personalities, differing values, and that it functions best when people do what God has called them to do with what He has gifted them with to do it. Thus, when one of us is hospitalised or sick, those with the gifts of mercy or exhortation can't help themselves! They visit! They prepare meals! They babysit! They care. In this way the leadership of a church functions as a team.
¶ Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;First Corinthians 12:4
Any church needs the following. But to be healthy, growing church there is an extraordinary need for these that God supplies through the Spirit's gifting.
A growing healthy church needs people who pray extraordinarily.It needs people who serve extraordinarily.It needs people who lead extraordinarily.It needs people who care extraordinarily.It needs people who understand technology extraordinarily.It needs people who give extraordinarily.It needs people who can teach extraordinarily.It needs people who can train extraordinarily.It needs people who can evangelise extraordinarily.
I thank God for Stephen Hill who has covered my back more times than I know. He brings to our leadership team some wonderful gifts that I and others on the leadership don't have. I also thank God for Colin Kettle. I'd probably be curled up in some corner rocking back and forth in the foetal position if it wasn't for Colin. I thank God for Karen Dickson who makes us sound so good on radio. I thank God for Josh Gee who puts so much effort into editing and producing our videos for DVD and online. I thank God for Kim who has a wonderful gift of hospitality who more times than I can count helped to cater for events at our church involving hundreds of people. Without her gifts of organising and hospitality we could never have hosted so many people in our home or in our church. I thank God for Judith Brain who looks after our church kitchen so well and cares so deeply for the needy and the hurting in our church. I could go on, and mention Sonia and our wonderful worship leaders, and the dozens of others who make our church what it is, but you get the idea. Without diverse people with diverse gifts we simply could not function as a church.
As we continue to grow we will have to, and we will be able to, focus more on our particular gifts and how God wants us to express them. This of course doesn't mean that God excuses our sinful foibles or doesn't expect us to develop our hatred for sin and our love for Him and His Word. We all must equally avoid excusing our personal sin with the lame justification that this is who God has made me and be committed to grow in ways that will stretch us, challenge us, and take us out of our comfort zones. (This is why we all need the grace of God to grow.)
If you do not know what gifts God has given you, ask those who know God and know you best. Ask yourself what you're most critical of. Look at how you spend your time - what do you most naturally default to? Within the church, where do you see the greatest need? These are some of the things that you can do to discover what gifts God has given you and who He has called you to be. Once you discover this, you learn how to express these gifts through your redeemed personality. (I've had to learn how to overcome my shyness to express the gifts God has given me.) When we are equipped to do this, we will fit together so the life of the Spirit can bring life to many.
and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
Colossians 2:19from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
I look forward to the days ahead for our church where we will see God raising people up with diverse gifts that make for a strong local body of Christ-devoted followers who love Him and His Church passionately where we can work together to know Jesus and make Him known!
Father, help us to discover Your gifts in us. Help us to accept who we are and who we are not. May we find great fulfilment in using our gifts within the ministry that You have assigned to each of us. Lord, help us to see and understand how You have gifted others so that instead of being critical of who they are not, we can be complementary to them. Where we are deficient, bring others into our lives to make up for our lack. Where we need to grow and change, help us to do so. Where we have sinned in word, deed or attitude, correct us. May we multiply the value of Your Kingdom and see many souls saved, many souls refreshed, and many souls strengthened because of how You use us. For Your glory, we pray, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.