Once I was a summer camp counselor. Each night, I gathered young, impressionable ladies into my cabin for a devotional before lights out.
One illustration I often used involved a deck of cards. I walked around and gave each girl a different card from the deck. One girl received a two of hearts. Another an ace of spades. Someone else held a plain old eight of diamonds.
We had a discussion about how, as girls, we compare ourselves to others and want what they have. We want to be the cheerleader type. Or the athlete or the musician. We want to be popular or intelligent.
I used 1 Corinthians 12 to teach these young ladies that we are all important parts of the body of Christ. Each of us has a gift that God wants us to use.
Skip ahead a few years. I’m now a wife, a mother, and a woman who pays bills. The funny thing is, I’m still not always happy with the hand that I’ve been dealt.
I take personality tests and spiritual gift inventories, hoping every time that they will shoot out an unbelievable result:
Why, Lauren! You are Mother Teresa incarnate!
Ugh. This never happens.
I joke and tell people that I have the least feminine spiritual gifts there are. I might as well wear a suit and tie around and lower my voice.
Administration. Shepherding. Evangelism. Teaching.
These are the gifts God has chosen to give to me.
I hang my head and look at the results, trying to figure out how I could have answered inventory questions differently so that my gifts are hospitality, exhortation, and service.
For the love, I just want to be a gifts of mercy person!
And guys, I keep trying to practice mercy on people so that maybe my gift set will change.
Five years ago, I was driving down the interstate in Memphis. I saw a woman walking down the road in the rain. So I pulled off on the next exit, bought a bag full of McDoubles and a large sweet tea, and turned around to find that woman. I was going to pick her up and save her day. And she was gone.
A few weeks ago, I saw a woman walking down the road, visibly crying. We’ve got to do something! I urged my husband. So we turned around. But she was gone. Seriously. Nowhere to be found. I looked through the fields and over the bridges. Gavin drove down the center emergency lane after me. It looked like I was trying to kill myself and he was begging me to get back into the car.
The other day, I saw a woman walking down the road carrying a bag of groceries. I stopped to ask if she wanted a ride. After she wiped the freaked out look off her face, she informed me that she lived across the street.
I’m starting to wonder if God is trying to humor me. I’m obviously not cut out for picking up women on the side of the street.
The bottom line is, God made me for a specific mission. He made you for a specific mission.
As I studied 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 today, I was reminded that every physical body has a lot of different parts…tiny, intricate functions that work together for a common goal.
We experience this metaphor first-hand in the body of Christ. All body parts aren’t the same, but they work well cohesively.
When we try to serve another person’s function in the body, we are failing to fulfill the function we were made to do.
We look around and see what other people do and wish we could be more like them. We wish we could preach better or teach classes better or cook better or sing better.
People tell me that they wish they could move to another country or have enough faith to adopt. Wow, I wish I could be more like you!
I have one thing to say to that.
Don’t be like me.
I know a lot of sweet ladies sitting in nursing homes who don’t think I’m anything great. I know a lot of teenagers who realize I have a hard time connecting with their age group. I know a lot of toilets that wish I cared more about cleaning them.
All people are given the same opportunity to pursue God and to let Him point them toward a meaningful ministry.
No matter your perception of yourself, God gives you the value that He sees you deserve. Some gifts may be upheld more than others in this life, but each person’s function is equally valuable.
One day, God will uphold what is not given due recognition in this life. The most humble of His servants will receive the ultimate acknowledgement.
I’ll never be a good Mother Teresa. I’m better at having ideas and bossing people around. In a loving way I hope.
Once I tried to go a week without speaking up in Bible class. I thought the top of my head was going to explode. I’m learning to accept that it’s ok that God made me to be opinionated, vocal, and enthusiastic.
I appreciate my sisters and brothers who are meek, quiet, and behind-the-scenes. I continue to learn from them and try to apply their strengths into my skill set.
We all fulfill a vital role in the kingdom. So, whatever you do, do it!
Don’t be like me. I’ll stop trying to be like you. And hopefully we can reach all people in all places by using all the gifts God has so graciously given us.
What are your gifts? Where has God designed you to serve? If you are looking for a place to start, I like this spiritual gift resources on this site.