Thursday, March 19, 2015

I Can't Use My Spiritual Gift

Last Sunday our Sunday School class took a spiritual gifts test.  I had not taken one since college, when the test was done differently and for only a handful of gifts, so I decided to take it too.  When I tested before as a nursing student my highest score was for the gift of mercy.  That made lots of sense: I had a deep compassion for helping others and hurt when they hurt.  I wanted to reach out to those in need.
This time, however, I still scored high for mercy, but two other gifts dominated my scoresheet: One was hospitality.  I laughed to myself at that one- I'm always trying to cook and bake for people and find an excuse to get them in my house to be loved on.  The other one, however, scored even higher.  It was apostleship.  The definition of apostleship, taken out of, is:

 The mission for those with the gift of apostleship today is to plant new ministries and churches, go into places where the Gospel is not preached, reach across cultures to establish churches in challenging environments, raise up and develop leaders, call out and lead pastors and shepherds, and much more.  They often have many different gifts that allow them to fulfill their ministry.  These are leaders of leaders and ministers of ministers.  They are influencers.  They are typically entrepreneurial and are able to take risks and perform difficult tasks.  Missionaries, church planters, certain Christian scholars and institutional leaders, and those leading multiple ministries or churches often have the gift of apostleship.  

When I read this, I threw a pity party.  All those old struggles with my past as a full-time missionary surfaced in one ugly moment.  "No, God!"  "That's not fair!"  "How can I have this spiritual gift when I can't USE IT?"
I'm a housewife.  I'm a homeschool mom.  The typical extent of my being out in the world is a weekly trip to Walmart for groceries, an occasional trip to the local museum with my kids, and a monthly date with my husband.  Oh, and lets not forget the summer camping trips and geocaching adventures I take the kids on when the weather is favorable.  So how on earth can the gift of apostleship be applied to THAT?
It's as if my gift is laying waste, going sour.  I've read articles and heard sermons about spiritual gifts, and how we are missing out on such a blessing when we don't exercise them and use them to expand God's kingdom and bring Him glory.  We're supposed to find open doors to walk into, needs to fill, opportunities to grow and exercise the special heart and passion God has laid on our hearts to use what He has equipped us with.  So if God isn't a God of mistakes, if He truly has gifted me with this, then why has He placed me where I am right now with no possible way to use it?
I know from talking to some of my sisters in Christ that some of you struggle with the same questions.  God is wiser than us, He knows the big picture, He sees what we don't, but how can we understand His heart in this?

Here are some conclusions I've come to:

1: He's God. I'm not.  Our Heavenly Father has thoughts and ways higher than ours.  Many events and concepts introduced in the Bible baffle the wisest Biblical scholars, because we physically can't comprehend the mind of God.  However, we can acknowledge that He can be trusted, and He has a plan.  We just don't get to see what's behind the next door and when He'll open it.  Yeah, for the type A woman, that really stinks.  But it teaches us faith.

2: I've realized that I may not be ready to exercise this gift yet.  God is molding me and chiseling away at my rough edges (and if you ask my husband and children, there are a lot of them).  Could it be I can't use one of the spiritual gifts He's given me because I need to mature more first?  Leading in church planting and missions work isn't a novice type of ministry.  Maybe God gave me the opportunity to exercise this gift in the past, but He's using this season of my life to prepare me for something that requires even more wisdom and spiritual maturity in the future.  I have a lot of years left in me...the possibilities are endless!

3: Exercising a spiritual gift shouldn't fulfill me or define my self-worth.  The Lord wants us to deny ourselves and follow Him.  He wants us to be humble servants to others, not serve in a way for us to feel like we are significant in His eyes and the eyes of the church.  If I had the spiritual gift of evangelism and led two people to the Lord every week, I shouldn't feel more valuable than if I was able to prepare food for a church social.  Our value isn't in our service, it's who we are in Christ.  He doesn't see our works and say "I'm more pleased with that child of mine who just planted a church than the other one over there who just changes diapers in the church nursery."  On the contrary, He sees our hearts that are saved by grace through faith and are genually seeking to follow Him.  We are equally precious in His sight.

4. I shouldn't define who I am by my gift.  Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that mentality.  Yes, we should desire to edify the body of Christ and be used in different ways depending on what God has given us the ability and passion to do, but my gift shouldn't be treated as my identity.  I am a child of God.  It's that identity that I should cling to.  That's all that matters.

 If you don't know what your gift is, I encourage you to find out.  Maybe there are avenues for you to serve Christ that you never explored.  Maybe you'll realize God's preparing you for something or is equipping you to serve Him in an unique way.  Maybe, like me, you will become confused.  Use it as a motivator to seek His heart about it, and trust His plan.  The test I took is here:

I'd love to read your comments about any struggle you are having with your spiritual gift, or perhaps a frustration you have with understanding why God has placed you where you are in this season.   If you live nearby, come on over and we'll have a cup of coffee and talk about it.  Better yet, grab a cinnamon roll! Since my other gift is hospitality, you're guaranteed a warm welcome and won't leave hungry!

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