“Can you think of someone you could encourage to branch out into an area of giftedness or calling?” That was one of the challenges I put forth in this month’s Encourager’s Devotional entitled Freedom and Harmony. One of my core values is to celebrate diversity because it is a reflection of God’s heart towards us. When I think about the fact that the Almighty God, creator of the universe, took time to fashion or “weave together” each one of us as unique individuals … I am left to declare with the psalmist, “How precious are your thoughts towards me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:13-18)
This is why I love the ministry I do with the Grip-Birkman. I use this tool to help people discover their spiritual gifts, personalities, intellectual styles, and passions, as well as their internal and occupational motivations. Though there is a difference between spiritual gifts and inborn talents, when I lead people through these assessments, I stress that both are part of God’s design. They are an indication of how God wants to use us and how he has wired us to be most effective in what we set out to do with our lives.
Not all of the work I do with such assessment tools (I use others such as the DiSC profile) is in the realm of the church. I have worked with corporations and non-profits on things like staff development and team-building. One of the more recent groups I worked with was a local branch of the Make-A-Wish foundation for their annual staff retreat. I am glad I could play a small part in helping them regroup for the wonderful service they perform.
In all of this, I have come to a firm conviction that the church defines ministry too narrowly. Scripture says that whatever we do, we should do it for the glory of God (Colossians 3:17; 23). Jesus needs people to share his love to the world in the everyday spheres of life (schools, restaurants, corporations) just as much as he needs them in the pulpit, the choir or the Sunday School room. Everywhere we go, we are ministers of the gospel.
I also have issue with the church’s restrictive definition as to what is “spiritual.” In his overwhelming creativity, God has built into each of us mechanisms by which we find rejuvenation, peace and joy. For some it is hiking, for others reading. It could be through gardening, or tinkering on cars, or … well, you fill in the blank. We should feel free to pursue these activities without guilt of “wasting time,” for by them we are refreshed and, thus, more capable of giving of ourselves to others.
I recently convinced my husband to start a sports commentary blog. I am so glad to see him doing something with this passion he has for sports. I’ve been telling him for years he should pursue this. When we’re watching games (it does not matter which sport), he is always ahead of the announcers on making calls, reeling off stats, and providing trivia. He’s a natural. You should check the blog and see for yourself (Clutch Commentary).
Now Scott (that’s my husband’s name, by the way) has also used his enthusiasm for athletics to coach, run Christian sport camps, and serve as a mentor. But that is a “pouring out” of himself, a withdrawal of his reserves, so to speak. This new endeavor is something that will fill up the tank for him. The other night Scott, my son and a friend were sitting around preparing for articles to post on the blog. I don’t even care that much for sports, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to them chatter, and laugh, and talk smack because they were having so much fun with it.
And that brings me back to the initial question I posed, but let me rephrase it now. Can you think of someone you could encourage to branch out into an activity they do just for pleasure? Buy a set of paints for someone you know would love to learn that art. Or take a friend to an event they would find relaxing. And how about yourself? What can you do to refill your tank so that you’re refreshed and ready to “do ministry”?