Using Your Gifts Wisely

Worship has one primary function, to honour and glorify God through the lifting up of Jesus’ Name. But it comes in many different forms – mainly through lives lived out exclusively for that function.

Scripture teaches we are all gifted by God and with those gifts, talents and abilities, we can honour and serve Him. I want to share a few thoughts about that today because too often Christians give excuses to serving God.

To start with, in serving God, you need to focus on your strengths. Have you ever had a job that you were not suited for or know someone like that? I have had a few. One was working in an auto parts store… Although I can do basic maintenance things like change the oil, I couldn’t tell you about what king of U joint it needs. Or maybe you hate kids but your job is with them. Apparently the man who played Mr. Dressup was like that. Focusing on strengths begins with knowing and understanding how God has gifted you. I do want to point out that it is not necessarily what you do as a vocation either. I have seen how some teachers make the worst Sunday School teachers.

There are two facts in understanding gifting:
Fact 1 – God has a calling on each of our lives;
Fact 2 – He gives each of us gift(s), talents and abilities that we can use to glorify Him.
In the end, it is God who calls and empowers. He gives us the ability to fulfil whatever it is He has called us to do.

1 Peter 4:7-11 says, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

There are three gifting areas mentioned in this passage – hospitality, speaking and helping

We can all serve in at least one of these areas. And if you are unsure, there are other passages that speak of other gifts God gives (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4). They cover just about every area you could imagine.

When we understand how God has gifted us, it makes it easier to operate in those areas the gifts work best in. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t serve because we tend to focus on our weaknesses. I was like that about ten years ago when I was asked to do Beauty and the Beast. I was more concerned with what I wasn’t good at (memorization, stage directions, fear of others/failure) and didn’t focus on my strengths (speaking, singing, stage presence)

In the Christian life, the area most often like that is with evangelism. We use excuses like, I don’t know the Bible, I get nervous or I might mess up the message. The truth is, we all have a testimony or story to share. Think of the blind man Jesus healed. He didn’t know who did it, but his message was clear, “Once I was blind and now I see.”

There is also a Chinese Proverb that says, “a bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” The song each of us has to offer can be words, but it also and more often is expressed in deeds.

I would encourage you to use the gifts God has given you – teaching, encouraging, serving, speaking, evangelism, prayer, whatever, to honour God and serve His Church.

But there is more as God has given us talents as well. It might be singing, playing an instrument, mechanical aptitude, plumber, dancing… almost anything . Again the key is to learn how God has gifted you and use those gifts to honour Him.

Another aspect in serving the Lord is you need to use your gifts with excellence. We live in a culture of mediocrity. Instead of trying our best, we just like to get things done. I think there are two reasons why it is like this: a poor attitude and a lack of effort.

As I mentioned earlier, we all use excuses. When it comes to serving we are no different. We say, I’m not as good as so and so.

But comparing ourselves to each other is so dangerous and destructive, both personally and corporately. It is easy to compare with others because if they are good, we won’t try because we feel we are inadequate and can’t keep things at such a high standard. We will leave it someone more qualified. I think we are all like that sometimes.

But Scripture tells us we are all different. We are different in giftedness, personality, physically, but in the end, we are complimentary like in marriage. Our attitude should be a willingness and desire to honour God with our best. Even in the Old Testament system of offerings, you were called to give you best. That should be our attitude as well.

I know sometimes there is confusion between perfection and excellence. Perfection is seen as the highest degree, top quality, or done with exceptional skill. Excellence is just doing your best.

I’m not sure if any of you have seen the movie, “Amadeus.” It is the story of Antonio Salieri and Mozart, who is considered one of the greatest composers of all time. Salieri wishes he was as good so he can praise the Lord through composing. He often questioned why God favoured Mozart?

His envy made him God’s enemy. Salieri was good as well, but instead of using the talents and ability to honour God, he compared himself to Mozart, saw his inferiority, and his attitude and service became poisoned. I and maybe you can relate to his situation.

Dr. Frank Crane said this, “Nobody has things just as he would like them. The thing to do is to make a success with what material I have. It is a sheer waste of time and soul power to image what I would do if things were different. They are not different.”

In order for the church to fulfill God’s plans and move forward, we all need to be using what we have, our gifts talents and abilities regardless of how we adequate or inadequate we think we are. In reality, we are inadequate, but it is God who makes us more than adequate through His Spirit in us.

The Body of Christ is like a team that works together. No matter where you are on the depth chart, each one has a role and responsibility to give their best to the Lord.

Another thing we need to understand that in serving the Lord you need to have passion. Over time, word meanings change. One of those words that have changed meanings is “Passion.” Today most definitions are around sex or the sufferings of Christ. It also means a powerful or compelling emotion or feeling such as love or hate.

When we do things, we are often compelled by something or someone. Why do we work? For money to support ourselves and our families.

Why do we serve? My hope is that we do so because of our love and devotion to Him.

But sometimes our passion wanes. We become discouraged possibly from a (lack of fruit – Jeremiah experienced that. We get tired physically as it can sometimes require a time commitment on top of our regular jobs. It can take its toll emotionally from lack of support from church leadership and others.

So, how then do we get passion? How do we stay motivated? Here are a few things to keep in mind and practice (I am speaking to myself here as well)

  1. Start the day with prayer and time in God’s Word (God is the source of gifts, strength, life).
  2. Stay positive – don’t let distractions get you down. Especially history (Didn’t work then…).
  3. See problems as opportunities – failure is only a temporary change to set you straight the next time.
  4. Stay focused – keep your eye on the prize (goals, vision).
  5. Stay relaxed – God is in control (most difficult for me – worry).
  6. Surround yourself with encouraging people – people who fill your tank and those who drain it. Pessimism and negativity are dream killers. Instead of fueling the fires of passion, they quench the Spirit.
  7. Expect the best of others – God is a God of 2nd and 3rd chances. Too often we are quick to label instead of helping, praising for the small things and encouragement. They go a long way to building success.

Peter put it like this in verse 10 NKJV, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” The grace of God comes to the church in a myriad of ways – almost as many forms as there are people.

And the use of that grace is to bring about the obedience of faith is what spiritual gifts are about. Gifts are for the good of the Body and to glorify God. He’s given each of us gifts that we are responsible to use for His glory. May He give us wisdom and power to use them for the furtherance of His kingdom and glory.

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