Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 25: Excercising the Gift

For my small group yesterday, we read some excerpts from John Bunyan’s Grace Abounding To the Chief of Sinner. The book discusses his call into ministry. It was really interesting to read about how the exercising of his gifts progressed. He writes:
Some of the saints who had good judgment and holiness of life seemed to feel that God had counted me worthy to understand the blessed Word and that he had given me some measure of ability to express helpfully to others what I saw in it. So they asked me to speak a word of exhortation to them in one of the meetings.

At first this seemed to be an impossible thing for me to do, but they kept at it. I finally consented and spoke twice to small meetings of Christians only, but with much weakness and infirmity. So I tested my gift among them, and it seemed as I spoke they were being given a blessing. Afterward many told me, in the sigh of the great God, that they were helped and comforted…

The church continued to feel that I should preach, and so after solemn prayer to the Lord, with fasting, I was ordained to regular public preaching of the Word among those who believed and also to those who had not yet received the faith.

About this time I began to feel a great desire to preach to the unsaved, but not for the desire of glorifying myself, for at that time I was particularly being afflicted with the fiery darts of the Devil concerning my eternal state. I could not rest unless I was exercising the gift of preaching, and I was pressed forward into it.
I was really struck by the seemingly natural progression that Bunyan experienced. Potential was recognized in him and brought to his attention by others. He then began to try it out. His attempts, though difficult, yielded fruit. They were encouragement to attempt again, to exercise further. At some point, it because clear to him that he was gifted in teaching. He felt it and he recognized it mentally. It was how God wired him, and as a result, a deep passion brewed inside of him to use what he had been given.

This has gotten me thinking about my own gifts and passions. I admittedly don’t have a lot of clarity in these areas. You won’t hear me say, “that involves a strength of mine, thus I should be apart of it” or “this opportunity involves my passions and gifts, therefore I should take advantage of it to develop them”. My decisions aren’t gifts/passions driven. Rather, if the decision logistically makes sense and I can’t point to a reason not to, I go ahead.

The problem with my approach is that I’m not operating with optimum output. This is for a few reasons:
  1. I’m not serving as much. It causes me to live out of obedience, and not out of love. Obedience is good and certainly has its place, but love is better. It’s the difference between watching every minute on the clock and wondering where the time went.
  2. My time serving isn’t as a productive. A screwdriver can be used to drive in nails if need be, but it’s really best at screwing. There’s all kinds of things we can do, but there are things we’re more suited for.
Given the plethora of need out there, I know I need to do something. I only have one life to make a mark. Since I only have one life, I want the mark I leave as significant as possible. This requires maximizes the amount of time I’m operating out of giftedness and passion.

My relationships with computers has for so many years driven a wedge between my actions and my gifts/passions. Computer science connects with my head, but it hasn’t engaged my heart. There are the voices in my head that utter “because you’re pretty good at this, you should do it” or even “your technical skills can be used by God, therefore you should continue down this path”. I’m sure better balance can be had between my day job and doing something about the poverty and injustice in our world. I think the best I have done was during my senior with a reduced school load and serving/leading out at the 1304 house. I don’t think I’m winning the balance war now. At some point, instead of battling to reconcile the two, I think I may have to give up and try a different tact.

I realize these are a lot of ramblings. I need to get this stuff out, because I can’t keep living in this untapped way...

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