In the Christian world we talk a lot about our gifts, or talents, and how we can use them to bless and build up others. In a sense, our natural talents are ‘gifts that keep on giving’.
God gives us each a set of talents which we are called to put into use. Gifts are talked about many times in the Bible, and Jesus emphasizes the importance of them (Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12; Matthew 25:14-30).
I like the word ‘gift’ as it reminds me it’s from God – not earned through any effort of my own. Though I have a responsibility to refine my gift and put it into action, he is the great giver of all I possess. My gifts make me unique. There is no one else who has exactly the same qualities I do, though they might have similar gifts. We complement each other because what we have to offer is one-of-a-kind. And when combined, we are spectacular!
Some worry about the fact they don’t know what their gifts are. Others fret that they aren’t making the most of the talents they’ve been given.
I think one of my fears when it comes to gifts, as I’ve seen this tendency play out in various ways, is that I’ll get so caught up in the enjoyment of using the talent that I’ll forget God, the source of it. That I’ll try and place the focus on myself and my own attributes.
This week I heard a beautiful, gifted woman named Janine Kubala speak. One of the things she said was that the Christian life was “not about people being amazed at our gift, but about bringing glory to God.” She went on to say. “We empower people much more when we put them into contact with the God of power. This will satisfy them the most.”
I love those moments when someone says exactly what you need to hear. For me the conviction felt like a weight dropping deep into my stomach… but God was there, gently encouraging me. In His presence, the weight didn’t stay there. It turned into hope that things were going to be different. God was on the move in my life.
I realized then that many times much of my joy in using my gifts was to gain attention and honour for myself. To gain approval and affirmation from others. But how short-sighted this has been.
When we use our gifts for the glory of God and not our own, there is so much more joy to be had. We do not miss out when the focus is on God working through us. To use our gifts in a God-honouring way is ‘selfish’ in a really good way… When we’re in alignment with Him, we experience the joy of being part of what he’s doing. Our ambition becomes his ambition. His power, working through our natural strengths, can be an amazing thing. And it doesn’t matter so much whether we’re ‘the best at it’ or how we look. Because if we make God look good while doing it, that’s all that matters. When we’re operating in His power and enabling we shine more light on who He is – the great gift-giver. This amazing, glorious, powerful, wondrous God that we serve. The source of all good gifts and all good things. How incredible to be a part of that!
I want people who are witnesses of my gifts to be witnesses of God’s power. Yes, I need encouragement along the way because it isn’t always easy. And yes, in the short term people might notice me and praise me (or not). But ultimately I’m not here on earth to blow my own trumpet. I’m here to blow the trumpet of the one who made everything, is above and beyond all things, and who will ultimately bring freedom to all who call on His name. When we try and satisfy people by giving them ‘us’ we are short-changing them. But when we use our gifts to lead them home to the true Lover of their souls, we are giving them a well that never runs dry, a power-source that never dies and a life that never truly ends… And there’s nothing more satisfying than that.