Using What God Gave You

God deserves your best. He shaped you for a purpose, and He expects you to make the most of what you have been given. He doesn’t want you to worry about or covet abilities you don’t have. Instead, He wants you to focus on talents He has given you to use. When you attempt to serve God in ways you’re not shaped to serve, it feels like forcing a square peg into a round hole. It’s frustrating and produces limited results. It also wastes your time, your talent, and your energy. 

The best use of your life is to serve God out of your shape. To do this you must discover your shape, learn to accept and enjoy it, and then develop it to its fullest potential.  The Bible says, “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to”-Ephesians 5:17. Don’t let another day go by. Start finding out and clarifying what God intends for you to be and do.   

Take a long, honest look at what you are good at and what you’re not good at. Paul advised, “Try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities”-Romans 12:3. Spiritual gift tests and ability inventories can have some value, but they are limited in their usefulness. The best way to discover your gifts and abilities is to experiment with different areas of service. You have dozens of hidden abilities and gifts you don’t know you’ve got because you’ve never tried them out. So, I encourage you to try doing some things you’ve never done before. No matter how old you are, I urge you to never stop experimenting.

Don’t try to figure out your gifts before volunteering to serve somewhere. Just start serving. You discover your gifts by getting involved in ministry. Try teaching or leading or organizing or working with teenagers. You will never know what you’re good at until you try it. When it doesn’t work out, call it an “experiment”, not a failure. You will eventually learn what you’re good at. 

Ask yourself these questions: What do I really enjoy the most? When do I feel the most alive? What am I doing when I lose track of time? Do I like routine or variety? Do I prefer serving with a team or by myself? Am I more introverted or extroverted? Am I more a thinker or a feeler? Examine your experiences and extract the lessons you have learned. Review your life and think about how it has shaped you. Moses told the Israelites, “Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him” -Deuteronomy 11:2. 

Forgotten experiences are worthless; that’s a good reason to keep a spiritual journal. Paul worried that the believers in Galatia would waste the pain they had been through. He said, “Were all your experiences wasted? I hope not!– Galatians 3:4. We rarely see God’s good purpose in pain or failure or embarrassment while it is happening. When Jesus washed Peter’s feet, He said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand”- John 13:7. Only in hindsight do we understand how God intended a problem for good.

Extracting the lessons from your experiences takes time. I recommend that you take an entire weekend for a life review retreat, where you pause to see how God has worked in the various defining moments of your life and consider how He wants to use those lessons to help others. There are resources that can help you do this. Since God know what’s best for you, you should gratefully accept the way He has fashioned you. The Bible says, “What right have you, a human being, to cross examine God? The pot has no right to say to the potter. “Why did you make me this shape’ Surely a potter can do what he likes with the clay! -Romans 9:20

Your shape was sovereignly determined by God for His purpose, so you shouldn’t resent it or reject it. Instead of trying to reshape yourself to be like someone else, you should celebrate the shape God has given only to you. Part of accepting your shape is recognizing your limitations. Nobody is good at everything, and no one is called to be everything. We all have defined roles. Paul understood that his calling was not to accomplish everything or to please everyone but to focus only on the particular ministry God had shaped him for. He said, “Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s  plan for us”. -2 Corinthians 10:13

God wants you to enjoy the shape He has given you. Satan will try to steal the joy of service from you in a couple of ways: by tempting you to conform your ministry to the expectations of others. Both are deadly traps that will distract you from serving in the ways God intended. Whenever you lose your joy in ministry, start by considering if either one of these temptations is the cause. The Bible warns us to never compare ourselves with others: “Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others.” -Galatians 6:4

There are two reasons why you should never compare your shape, ministry, or the results of your ministry with anyone else. First, you will always be able to find someone who seems to be doing a better job than you and you will become discouraged. Or you will always be able to find someone who doesn’t seem as effective as you and you will get full of pride. Either attitude will take you out of service and rob you of your joy.  You will find that people who do not understand your shape for ministry will criticize you and try to get you to conform to what they think you should be doing. Ignore them. Paul had to often deal with critics who misunderstood and maligned his service. His response was always the same: Avoid comparisons, resist exaggerations, and seek only God’s commendation.

One of the reasons Paul was used so greatly by God was that he refused to be distracted by criticism or by comparing his ministry with others or by being drawn into fruitless debates about his ministry. God expects us to make the most of what He gives us. We are to cultivate our gifts and abilities, keep our hearts aflame, grow our character and personality, and broaden our experiences so we will be increasingly more effective in our service. Fail to use what you’ve been given and you’ll lose it. Use the ability you’ve got and God will increase it. Whatever gifts you have been given can be enlarged and developed through patience. 

In Heaven, we are going to serve God forever. Right now, we can prepare for that eternal service by practicing on earth. Like athletes preparing for the Olympics, we keep training for that big day. We’re getting ready for eternal responsibilities and rewards! https://amzn.to/2LuTXiR

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