Encourager’s Devotional Series – Celebrating Diversity – July Wrap-Up

“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)

Sports lovers, check out http://clutchcommentary.com. And let your friends know about it.

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”?

What if missions is not my calling?

I had the honor of guest blogging for Ally Keaton, one of my former college students. I love Ally’s passion for missions and for supporting others as they serve in their own contexts.

Ally in Africa

This is a guest post by Lisa Womble, who is co-pastor and founder of The Merge, a coffeehouse/church/concert venue in St. Louis, MO. Lisa formerly served on the faculty of St. Louis Christian College. She received her Master of Divinity from Lincoln Christian Seminary and is a certified Grip-Birkman coach, helping people discern their gifts, calling, and vocational aptitudes through personality and gift assessments. To find out more about Lisa, you can visit her website.

whatifmissionsisnotmycalling

“That’s not my gift.” Whenever I lead a seminar or do team building using spiritual gifts assessments, this statement starts running rampant amongst participants. It’s usually done in jest as a way for people to jokingly say they don’t want to do a particular task. It’s funny. We all laugh. After all, one of my goals for these sessions is to help people “create a template for their ‘yes’ and ‘no’” and stop…

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Welcome to the table …

The table – It can be used for meals, meetings, games, conversation, counsel or even as a make-shift writing spot for those like me who cannot always find the top of their desk (or just prefer to head out to a coffeeshop to write). It is my hope that this blog will serve as a table where we can gather for each of these purposes. So, here are the kinds of things I’ll be posting:

Meals – We all need nourishment for our minds, our bodies and our souls. Through music, art, devotions and challenges to our thinking, may we all be well nourished.

Meetings – I am a certified Grip-Birkman coach and have a passion to help people discover their gifts, personalities, intellectual styles, and occupational motivations. I particularly like to hold team-building seminars and foster appreciation for the fact that an effective team requires people with different ways of thinking and doing. See more at www.gripbirkman.com.

Counsel – Life is messy. Why pretend it’s not? I am a pastor who avoids the idea that there are quick fixes to tough problems; no one here will be told to “just get over it.” Instead, you’ll find links to resources and good advice from others who have been where you are. Those who are suffering and those who are overcoming are welcome to this table to share their life experiences.

Games – We all just need to have fun sometimes. “A merry heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). You’ll find healthy doses of humor here.

Conversation – I believe the best solutions come when we do life in community. Whether we’re looking for answers to global problems, theological debates, or just day-to-day conundrums, we’ll take a look at varying opinions and develop an ear to really listen and hear what others think and feel about the issues at hand. Open-mindedness and civility will be part of our core values, but that doesn’t mean we’ll tip-toe around the issues.

Writing desk“Lisa Womble writes hope-inspiring true stories that draw people closer to God and closer to each other.” This was my answer when instructed to draft a one-sentence mantra to keep me focused on the primary goal of my writing. I’m currently working on a book about my friend who is in witness protection. I will be sharing excerpts and reporting on my progress here. It is a powerful story of transformation. But not all stories have to be this dramatic to be powerful. Story sharing is a great way to get to know each other and my aim for this blog is to create a space where we come together to share our stories.

If you want to be understood, tell your story.                                                                                                                                      If you want to understand others, listen to theirs.