BY THE REV. CORY KEMP |
What did you receive for Christmas?
In the Christian faith, Christmas isn’t the only time we talk about gifts. Special talents, skills and capacities are what enrich individual and community life all year long.
While we know this, do we live this?
As we define, honor and embody the mission of our congregations and denomination, do we just fill slots to accomplish the tasks related to the goals we want to meet? How often do you, when you are leading a project or staffing a program, fall into just getting it done mode? Have you ever been asked to do a job, but felt like you were being pushed to do it?
While this may be a little uncomfortable to consider, especially if you’ve found yourself on both sides of the conversation, I think it’s all pretty normal, if not ideal. We’re human, after all, and if we’re invested in an idea or a program, we want to see it come to fruition and make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes we get a little pushy; sometimes we feel a little pushed.
My thought is that most of what we offer, in worship, education, community outreach and specialized ministries, is worth every bit of effort we put into the planning and implementing. And because our efforts are worthy, so must our awareness of our own and each other’s gifts be astute.
Some of this comes naturally, especially if someone’s talent creates a tangible result that is readily enjoyed, like baked goods or a beautiful flowerbed. Others may take encouragement to make them more visible. Not everybody wakes up one morning aching to be a lay reader or capital fund drive coordinator. And, some of those who do may not be recognized as willing and more than able to give themselves to the task by virtue of other people’s filters or their own unwillingness to be fully visible as themselves.
We aren’t the first people doing our best to serve God while figuring out the best way to do it. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (I Corinthians 12:
Making good use of what you received means getting informed, and it means being willing to make what God has given you available to your community to serve the common good.
I love that Paul made it clear that we each have something specific to offer with the intended result of creating more good. That is a powerful statement. You and I have the power to do more good in the world right now.
Have you pulled out your personal instruction manual to see more clearly what God has given you to share? Try seeking out a spiritual gifts assessment; ask friends what they see in you that you may not see in yourself. What do you love to do that you may not have had the chance to share yet; something you know will help other people?
Making good use of what other people have received is so important too. More often than you may realize, we all have blind spots about how much impact we make on other people’s lives. You may notice that the person who sits in the pew in front of you is always encouraging and helpful in small ways that make everybody feel welcome. Where can that gift be used and how may they be asked to share that gift in meaningful ways for them?
So, what did you receive for Christmas this year? Was it under the tree? Or was it already in your heart, ready to be opened up and shared this whole year long?
About the Author
The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom, and joy.