Facets of His Grace
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:4-8
There are a lot of things at which I’m not very good. In fact, I’m downright terrible at some things. There are also plenty of things for which I have no interest and about which I don’t really care that I have no aptitude. But sometimes, to be perfectly honest, I am pretty conscious, even embarrassed, about my shortcomings.
For example, I am not very handy. There are those guys who have all the tools and can fix pretty much anything. Yea, I’m not that guy. There have been a few times, like when I managed to fix the thermostat in the condo we rent, that I felt like one of those guys for a fleeting moment, but in reality if it’s not obvious, or if it’s going to take more than a Phillip’s head screw driver, I have to call my wife. My Dad used to love to tell everyone about the time he was going to teach me how to work on cars. I had my head stuck under the hood, or so he says, and when he turned to explain something to me, I was gone. I don’t really even remember the occasion at all, and would prefer to believe that I had some pressing business that demanded my attention elsewhere, even if I was only ten or twelve at the time.
Another area where I have no skill is in wrapping presents. I am not sure who invented wrapping paper, but I imagine them thinking of me and laughing and laughing and laughing as they were coming up with the concept. Wrapping is more stressful for me than dental work. In fact, I am the person for whom gift bags were made. Stick it in, add a little tissue paper, tape it shut. Done. No muss, no fuss! Wrapping is pure evil, and when Christmas comes along, the cute little images of reindeer and elves on the paper become wicked little beasts mocking my futile attempt to produce something remotely resembling anything that will inspire happiness and joy in my loved one’s lives. Even my wife likes to sit across from me while I wrap, just to watch. It’s one of those occasions in which disbelief and amusement coalesce together in her expression as she watches, often shaking her head and looking at me with something like pity in her eyes.
I expose these shortcomings because this is a side of my life that not everyone sees. I am a leader, and as a pastor, most people see me serving in my “sweet spot,” either preaching and teaching the Word of God or casting vision for what God has spoken to us as a church to accomplish for the Kingdom. I am in my element, and I am conscious in those moments of an ability given me from God to impart supernaturally to His people. I love what I do, and I spend a great deal of time endeavoring to improve and get even better in the fulfilling of God’s call upon my life. Yet even in the church I am very conscious of areas where I am not at my best. There are certain areas necessary to the efficient running of a church for which I am not particularly gifted. While I love casting vision and talking about the broad strokes of the plan of God, I am very dependent upon people gifted in organization and detail to help get us there. I understand the need for well ran children programs, but while I know what we need in general, I don’t seem to be particularly gifted in that area either, while my wife, on the other hand, has been teaching the first grade for nearly thirty years, and I am convinced she has the power to hypnotize children and bend their will to her bidding! I marvel at others in our church, mature beyond their young years, who are so selfless in their service on behalf of children who are not their own.
Others in our church are great servers and simply get things done that need doing without much fanfare or drama. We come to church to find that it is clean, and everything is in its place ready for service. Some in the church, crafty with wood and such, have added to its decoration and have vision for other improvements yet to come. Now when I look at our church I see a wide range of talents which have been expressed in everything from the tidiness of the sanctuary to the refrigerator full of snacks for the Sunday School kids.
Fortunately for me, I don’t have to be good at everything, and no one seems to expect me (or want me) to try. In fact, that is my point. I think we too often focus on the things we are not particularly good at, seeing these as a shortcoming that needs to be addressed, rather than realizing that in our inabilities we have simply identified areas of need for which others are obviously gifted. While we want to work on our weaknesses where character is concerned, in the area of giftedness I think it is far more important that we simply soar with our strengths. To use Paul’s analogy of the body (see also 1 Corinthians 12:12-31), not everyone needs to be an eye to be a part of the body. As important as it is to see, it takes feet to take us where our vision leads us. We need all the members functioning in the church, doing their part, running with their strengths, and investing their gifts to make the whole thing work. Granted, there are some areas in which we can all lend a hand, but when it comes to special areas of service, God has set the members in the body in such a way that each of us express a different aspect of the multifaceted grace of God when we serve with the gifts He has given us (see 1 Peter 4:10-11).
Honestly, knowing that God has gifted me to do what He has called me to do is very humbling. I know that for whatever reason He has entrusted me with a stewardship of His ability to help build His people and His Church. In reality, He has done that with each and every one of us, by investing into our lives the various gifts and talents we have, that through our distinct contribution His purpose is fulfilled in the earth.