The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others. 1 Corinthians 12:7 (CEV)
When I was a classroom teacher, I always tried to discover the different gifts and abilities of my students. Knowing where their unique strengths and abilities helped me better understand how they learned.
As a parent, I believe that one of my roles is to identify and help develop the different gifts and abilities of my boys.
My boys tend to be fairly atypical. They prefer playing with stuffed animals over action figures, legos over jungle gyms and doing Rainbow Loom rather than going outside for a pick-up baseball game. This used to bother me. Buying into cultural stereotypes about gender expectations, I wondered if I was doing something wrong. Then I had a realization.
My boys are creative. And that’s okay. As a parent, my job is to nurture that desire for creativity. When my youngest wants to get creative in the kitchen, I grit my teeth through the spilled salt and splattered eggs to help him create a one of a kind dish.
When my oldest wants to create yet another Disney Rainbow Loom charm on the computer, I give him time, my computer, and the entire dining room table to do so.
Nurturing gifts is important because God has imparted them to each of us for a reason. Our gifts are not meant for us alone. They are meant to benefit others.
The Spirit gives us gifts in order to serve others.
Yet often in our busy and frenetic world, our spiritual gifts get neglected. They lie dormant as we shuttle ourselves and our families through the daily grind. We wait to use our gifts for a more convenient time, or after they’re better developed, or when we have more money to invest in them.
Sitting on our spiritual gifts is like leaving a Christmas present unopened. There’s really no purpose in having it. And, it sends a negative message to the one who gave it.
Instead, we need to open up our gifts. We need to play with them, grow them, build on them and use them.
You might be thinking, “I don’t have any gifts.” However, gifts come in all shapes and sizes. What do you like to do? What brings you joy? Chances are, the answers to those questions point to a gift.
“Yeah,” you might be thinking. “But what I like to do is… (read, listen to music, bowl, play baseball, garden). How can that be a gift to others?”
Begin by assessing the needs of your community.
In our town of about 1200, there was a group of people who liked to read. However, the nearest library was ten miles away. This group worked to establish a community library, staffed by volunteers who wanted to share their love of reading with others. Today, the library provides a variety of resources and services to the community, including summer reading programs for kids. The gift of reading shared by a small group of people has impacted an entire town.
Using your gifts doesn’t have to be huge. Small acts are equally important. Small acts can change a life.
Several years ago I took a group of sixth graders to work on a Habitat for Humanity build. The kids laid sod, painted, planted flowers and pushed wheelbarrows full of gravel. They had a great time running around outside. While their work seemed small, it was the finishing touch on a home that would provide much needed shelter to a family who had never had a home.
Big or small, using our gifts is important. This week, I would encourage you to reflect on the gifts God has given you. Then, ask God to open up some areas in your life to use those gifts for others.
Blessings and Peace,