Do you ever feel unsatisfied with what you have to offer the world? Like the gifts and talents you have are less-than-exciting when you see what you think the world needs?
To be honest, I have felt that way a lot in the past few years. I knew what my strengths were and was grateful for them, but I just didn’t see how they fit into God’s purpose. I didn’t see how God could use what I was good at, and I feared that I didn’t have anything to offer. Let me tell you though, I have learned that if you are ever feeling this way, it is the enemy lying to you. There’s no collection of “perfect strengths” to have. You’re not left in the dust if you’re not built a certain way. God knew what He was doing when He gave you certain gifts. Don’t let the enemy bury this truth; instead, let this truth free you to fearlessly serve God using what you have.
You see, I had always been good at school. I got good grades, I liked studying, and I often chose academic success over other opportunities, including things like spending time with friends. Now don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that God blessed me with academic abilities because I love having the opportunities to learn and study that I do. Still, when I entered into the world of missions and found myself immersed in Christian community, I didn’t see a place for my gifts. Fear of not being enough caused me to see my strengths as useless if I wanted to pursue God’s Kingdom first-and-foremost. Slowly though, He is opening my eyes to ways that I can use my abilities to reason, think critically, learn and analyze for His glory, and I couldn’t be more relieved about the truth of getting to use who He made me to be for His Kingdom.
God is so powerful and creative. When I got outside of my self-focused worries, I could see how cool it is that He has given us each different strengths, gifts and passions. I always knew this with my head, but it was hard to convince my heart. It was hard to make myself actually believe that my strengths are a part of this awesome tapestry of abilities that God has woven for His Kingdom work.
What is important to note, though, is that our gifts are only useful if we use them in love. Paul says it best in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Whatever our gifts are, it is good to work at them, develop them and use them, but only if every move we make is accompanied by the love we have from Him. Yes, my gifts are worthless if they are not used with love, but I can do learning and teaching and organizing with love. I can reason with love. I am called to use my own gifts with love, not to try to change my gifting to whatever abilities seem to “go better” with love.
I encourage you all to really think about how you are gifted. Especially if your gifts are in areas you might not deem valuable or perhaps were ashamed of growing up (*cough* any other “nerds” out there?) – don’t escape that identity. That is how God made you because that is exactly how He plans on using you.
Pray that God will remove any spirits of fear around your gifts. Seek to grow your strengths in the LORD. Pray for guidance as to how to use your strengths with love. Use the ways you have been gifted and what you’re passionate about. These may or may not tie into your career; they might just be what you like to do or the group of people you best connect with. They might be different than what you thought they “should be” or what you wanted them to be.
Use your gifts to serve God without fear, because fear is from the enemy. Fear holds us back from all we were created to be!