February 13, 2019

Cultivating and Using Your Gifts Takes Risk

At some point, you'll recognize that God has given you eyes to see what others cannot or do not see. Whether in your church or your community, you'll see a need or an opportunity, as well as the hole or the lack, and you'll feel a little nudge inside that perhaps you're the one who God is compelling to meet that need.

That nudge is something to pay close attention to, because it may just be your "for such a time as this." However, recognizing the nudge and actually taking action on it are two different things. Teetering between the thought and the action is great risk and a long list of anxiety-provoking questions.

What if the thought of pursuing this specific calling or taking this certain action isn't from God? 
What if others see me and think I'm prideful, naive, or silly? 
What if nothing comes from it in the end, and I feel like a failure? 
What if my motivations aren't totally pure? 
What if I start and am unable to finish? 
What if it's not the right time?
What if I don't actually have the gifts and skills I thought I did?
We should certainly take our time, prayerfully considering our internal motivations, our capacity in our current season, and whether or not we can follow through on commitments. But we should also consider God and others.

We must first look at God and consider if the greatest hindrance to our service is that we lack faith in his abilities. Most of the time we only consider ourselves. We look at our abilities and determine we don’t have enough. We look at our logistics and can't figure where the resources are going to come from. We look at our circumstances and wonder how we'll get from Point A to Point B. Looking at ourselves doesn’t make us bold, but looking at God and finding our source of confidence in him helps us take risks.

Second, we should look at others, or rather, where God is pointing others out to us. What unmet needs consistently plague you? What do you think everyone should be passionate about? How has God arranged you within your local church and within your local community in order to be a part of his work and his solution? What would he have you do by faith in dependence upon his abilities in order to meet a need?

Perhaps nothing. Perhaps nothing right now. But perhaps something, and this is where we must take a risk. How do we push through the risk of cultivating and using our gifts? 

We discern more clearly what our gifts and callings are by trying what we think he's leading us to do. Only by doing--practicing the use of our gifts--will we begin to see more clearly. For me, trying specific gifts on for size opened up a whole new set of questions and obstacles. But by acting, God had the opportunity to burn away my improper motivations for service, and show me more clearly how he's made me and wants me to serve him.

God gave you the gifts that you have, and so he intends that you use them as an act of worship back to him. In fact, that's how I first began to recognize what God was compelling me to do: I felt as if by serving in a specific way, it was an act of worship before the One who gave me the desire and the skills in the first place.

People may or may not cheer you on as you serve. They may or may not notice. They may or may not wonder, as we fear they do, just who we think we are. However, although we serve for the benefit of others, we're ultimately obeying God's command to use everything we have to bring him honor and to edify the church. God is not pleased only when we're successful or if other people celebrate. He's pleased with the faith it takes to do something for him and believe he will use it as he sees fit. This is perhaps one of the most freeing reasons we risk using our gifts: the results aren't up to us, nor are they requirements for pleasing God. We're the sowers, and God is the grower, and so our focus can simply be acts of service by faith.

New Season of By Faith
When it comes to using your gifts, friends, don't just take my word for it. Join me for a brand new season of By Faith, starting February 19, as we tackle the questions, motivations, and difficulties related to cultivating and using our gifts. I've invited guests such as Russell Moore, Caroline Cobb, Melissa Kruger, Anna Perez, Jared Wilson, and Christie Purifoy onto the show to explore with me what it means to serve by faith.
How are they using their unique gifts and talents in their specific context and season of life? How did they come to know their gifts? What challenges are they facing as they serve? And what are they learning that can help us where we are? These are the questions I hope to answer, with the goal of encouraging, challenging, and equipping you to step out by faith and use your particular gifts for God’s glory.

Giveaway
The season kicks off next Tuesday, February 19, and in celebration I'm doing a giveaway of each of my books on Facebook and Instagram. The Instagram giveaway also includes a $50 Amazon gift card! 🎉 
Enter one or both as many times as you like. Click through to Facebook and Instagram to get all the details and to throw your name in the ring.

Subscribe Today
In past seasons, I've posted on my blog when new episodes released. I'm saving this space for more frequent writing, so I will no longer be announcing new episodes here. Please subscribe today on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play, or Spotify so you don't miss out! And of course I share new episodes on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter, so come give me a follow. 

Looking forward to launching this new season and sharing these conversations with you!