We were all given abilities and talents (gifts), whether you realize it now, or not. It is our job to find those gifts and use them, and not worry, nor covet abilities we do not have.
When you try to serve in ways that you are not shaped or equipped for serving, it’s like, as Mr. Warren states, “forcing a square peg into a round hole.” It’s stressful, frustrating and a waste of your time. Don’t waste your talent doing something else you should not be doing. Find out what your shape is, accept it, embrace it, enjoy it and “then develop it to its fullest potential.”
The Bible says, “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to.” To figure out what you are meant to do, make a list of those things you are good at and what things you are not. Ask others. Tell them you are not fishing for compliments, you are seeking the truth about yourself and need input. “Spiritual gifts and natural abilities are always confirmed by others.” Ask yourself questions like, “What have I been good at in the past that others have confirmed? What things have I done really well, that I enjoyed? Why did I quit that thing that I loved and excelled at? Where have I been a success?”
There are specialized spiritual gift tests and inventories out there, but they are limited in their usefulness. They cannot possibly take into account your uniqueness, plus there are no definitions of what the spiritual gifts are in the Bible – they were meant to be seeked out and searched for by each individual – this is part of our test. He’s not going to give answers to everything. He gave us each a brain and it’s up to us how to use that brain. “Another problem is that the more mature you become, the more likely you are to manifest the characteristics of a number of the gifts. You may be serving or teaching or giving generously out of maturity rather than because it is your spiritual gift.”
One of the best ways to find your spiritual gifts is to experiment with different areas of service. Try something new. When you are handed different opportunities for serving, try it. You won’t know if it’s meant to be if you don’t give it a shot. Even the author of this book and church Pastor did not know he was gifted for teaching till later in life, when he started accepting opportunities to speak, saw results, received confirmation from others, and then realized God gifted him to do this thing.
Until you are involved with serving and experimenting in different ministries, whatever they may be, you may never find what you are good at. Try new things, that you never even considered doing. You might be surprised with the results. Untapped potential is a God-given gift, tossed away. We all have untapped potential and if we don’t get out there and try new experiences, new ways of serving, experiment, we will be wasting our lives. Haven’t we wasted enough time already? Start now and never stop experimenting. You are never too old. Mr. Warren speaks of meeting many people who discovered hidden talents in their seventies and eighties. He said, “I know a woman in her nineties who runs and wins 10K races and didn’t discover that she enjoyed running until she was seventy-eight!” Wow! Gives me some hope!
Volunteer to serve somewhere. When someone asks you to go with them to this thing or go do this thing with them, those might be the opportunities you were looking for. Everything for a reason – remember? I know, we have lives, we are busy working all day, taking care of and raising our families, cleaning our house, we got thangs to do! Don’t throw out all opportunities, though. A chance to try something new and different, something you never thought you’d do, might be just the ticket! Learn to play a new instrument. Try working with teenagers. Oh goodness, there are so many options out there, just find things and try them. Experimenting can be a little scary, even embarrassing. So what?! Life without taking risks, is no life at all! When one of your experiments doesn’t work out, “call it an “experiment,” not a failure.” Keep learning and trying and you’ll find some great things that you are wonderful at. Then, you will kick yourself for not trying it sooner.
Someone close to me did not learn how to swim until her sixties. I went with her to these swimming lessons and watched her improve with each lesson. At first, she was embarrassed, nervous and downright scared that she wouldn’t do well, that she wouldn’t learn, and worried that she was unteachable. She did it anyway, and she learned how to swim. She was awesome at it!
A friend of mine is about to start teaching young children in a new Girl Scout troop she is starting. How wonderful she is for doing this for these girls! She is nervous about doing it, plus, she’s a lot like me in the sense she doesn’t like to speak in front of a group of people – having all eyes on her (the moms will be there, too). She’s doing it anyway. She sees the bigger picture – helping these girls to become great women, and she’s facing her fear to accomplish a great thing. How proud I am of her! These are the people I admire – people who have fears and face them, head on, not looking back. Do you want to try something new? Are you driven to try it? Are you fearful? Just go and do it anyway. You might surprise yourself. Practice makes perfect, remember? You keep doing that thing you want to do, and each time you do it, you get better at it.
Hallie took guitar lessons. She was all excited about it. We adored the instructor. As she started learning how to play, her fingers caused her great pain. See, you push down on the strings and it hurts your tender fingers. She cried, even during some of the classes, and had to take a short break, just to regain some composure. She wanted to leave, to quit. I wanted to comfort her, but being a good mother, I had to do the right thing for her, which was to make her stick it out. I do not want to raise a quitter. I believe when you sign up to do a thing, you do it for a season, which is about 4 months – that’s long enough to learn how to do something and learn if you are good at it. When you find you are good at it, then you start enjoying it. She was angry with me, as expected. Not for long, though, as she never stays angry for long. She stuck with it, built up calluses on her fingers (which is what you have to do in order to play the guitar – strengthening of the fingers), she learned how to play and she LOVED it! When she learned how to play a new chord or a new song, she would get so tickled, she’d belly laugh at herself. She was so thankful she stuck with it. She was good at it, but it took a bit of a struggle to get there.
Don’t quit when the going gets tough. Stick it out for a season (at least 4 months), then make the decision to stop or keep going. Don’t be a quitter like me. I’m learning to not be a quitter. I can hardly believe I’ve stuck with this blog, daily, for over 32 days! That’s a new record! I love it, though. I love reading, reviewing books, talking about books (or writing about them, rather), offering my opinion and how I relate to each chapter or each portion of what I read that day, sharing my heart with you. I feel it frees my spirit. Sound weird? It’s liberating. I am joyful, getting up early every morning to do this thing. It motivates me, drives me. Am I good at it? You tell me. I’m not sure. All I know is I’m driven to do it and I’m enjoying it and I hope it’s helping at least one person to see things perhaps a little differently, if it’s just from the book we are reading, not necessarily my posts about it. Do you get anything from this blog? From any of my earlier posts? Do I make a difference doing this? Or should I be doing something else? I would very much like your opinion. That doesn’t mean I will stop, because I’m finding enjoyment, so I guess it is helping one person – me. 😉 I guess I’m looking for a little feedback. I’ve heard from a couple of you out there and thank you – you know how much I appreciate you, don’t you? I truly do.
“Consider your heart and your personality. Ask yourself questions: What do I really enjoy doing most? When do I feel the most fully alive? What am I doing when I lose track of time? Do I like routine or variety? Do I prefer serving with a team or by myself? Am I more introverted or extroverted? Am I more a thinker or a feeler? Which do I enjoy more–competing or cooperating?”
“Examine the experiences and extract the lessons you have learned. Forgotten experiences are worthless; that’s a good reason to keep a spiritual journal. We rarely see God’s good purpose in pain or failure or embarrassment while it is happening. Extracting the lessons from your experiences takes time. I recommend that you take an entire weekend for a life review retreat, where you pause to see how God has worked in the various defining moments of your life and consider how he wants to use those lessons to help others. There are resources that can help you do this.” I’m going to go seek those out TODAY!!
Don’t try to be like someone else. Don’t try to be as good as someone else. Someone else may be better or more qualified to do the same thing you are doing. So what?! Do it anyway if that’s what you are good at and you love it. Everyone is not the same. You are you. They are someone else. You are to do that thing the way YOU do it. You have your own way about things and it’s a good way. You don’t have to be like them or envious of how they do the thing. Realize you need to do it YOUR way. Oh, and if they are rude, as I know some of them are, and they laugh at your way? So what?! Realize they are rude and go on and do that thing you do, the way YOU do it.
Hallie has several different pairs and styles of sneakers. She has a favorite pair. They are battered and worn, but they are comfy and supportive. Some boys came up to her a few days ago, saying, “Hallie, I like your shoes.” They were wearing smirks on their faces. She said, “Thanks!” Then, the boys laughed, and as they walked away, they said, “We’re not talking about your shoes!” Dumb boys. Hallie has her own style – a style that she likes and she is confident enough to pull it off. She wears what she wears and as long as it is decent, within school rules, and she is covered, I allow it. I think it’s important to allow our kids to express themselves, as long as they are decent about it. Parents, use your brains here. I’ve seen some of these kids and I wonder if the parents even saw them before leaving the house! Lack of brain use, anyone?! Hallie did not care they laughed at her. She was not insulted in the least. Well, ok, maybe a little. I was rude and told her to say, “Hey boys, I like your face! NOT!” (I mean, how dare they insult my baby!) She laughed and then, do you know what that child said to me? “That would bring me down to their level.” Ah, out of the mouths of babes. I’m thinking of ways to insult those boys, and she’s busy being a better person. She’s a much better person than me. I’ve always known this. Here I am, teaching her to insult and she’s teaching me to be respectful and mature. Ha! I don’t wanna grow up! 😉
On that note, I’ll bid you a good day. Is it really Friday Eve?! Hot dog! It is! Go make it an awesome one!!! Enjoy your day. Enjoy yourself and make an effort to enjoy those around you. Even with people you don’t necessarily like, you can find things about them that you do like. Try to identify with them. Relate somehow. It makes life a little easier. What will you do to make God smile today? Sorry for the long, drawn out post. Wow! The word count is high on this one! Love ya! *hug!