March 18, 2013
"God doesn’t want your ability; He wants your availability."
You’ve heard that before, haven’t you? Most contemporary Christians would probably fall for the straight-faced suggestion that somewhere in Solomon’s Proverbs – or, in Paul’s Epistles – that phrase is found. And they would be… wrong.
Not only is the phrase misappropriated and misattributed, it is patently unbiblical. And, it is spouted from pulpits and reprinted in Sunday bulletins ad nauseam. The underlying premise is clear: all you need to give God is your time; your capabilities – both those proven from your life-outside-of-church and those lying in you, undiscovered, because of a lack of opportunity to see yourself as God’s created masterpiece – are meaningless. And, the whole concept is dishonoring, both to God and to you.
Ask God about that hogwash: here’s His perspective: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)
Again: use your gifts to serve. The language of “gift” is slightly different than the term “talent,” though it refers to the same reality. You have a unique combination of capabilities that distinguish you from everyone else. Everyone else. One-of-a-kind competencies; significant strengths that are not found together in another person. No one you know can do what you can do…
Where does that ability come from? If it’s a result of your human initiative, you deserve the credit… but, it’s not. It’s sourced in your soul; it traces back to your fabulous fabrication. You were made in God’s image; you were fashioned by His handiwork; you are the result of His artistic genius. That’s why the concept of “gift” is so important: gifts are received – not created – by the possessor. Your talent traces to God, and when you use your gifts/talents to serve others, “…God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory…” His magnificence is more apparent when you are at work doing what He gave you the ability to do, in service to others.
So… what does our world – and, the church – do with that?
Well, outside of the faith community, God-given talents – and, other people – are exploited for personal gain, at the expense of those “served.” The backlash against significantly gifted but clearly self-serving leaders is growing as the 21st Century civilization reacts to the profitability of selfishness.
And… inside of the faith community, we hear – over and over again – that those God-given talents don’t matter… because “God doesn’t want your ability, He wants your availability.” Bring your time; leave your talents at home; they aren’t respected when you’re “serving Jesus by serving others.”
Sounds like a great deception, introduced by the Evil One, to take the power out of the Kingdom.
In defense of the hapless harbingers of that kind of volunteer involvement, they don’t offer classes in most seminaries focused on the discovery of one’s uniqueness: not for the pastors-in-training, or for them to use on their future flocks. If gifts/talents don’t matter, why waste course credits on the conversation?
Please allow me to weigh in: God wants both your abilities and your availability to be invested in things that will matter for Eternity. The idea that He gave you gifts, and then wants you to leave those gifts at work because they aren’t appreciated in His Kingdom is foolishness of the 1st Order.
All roads lead to The Master’s Program: we help Christian leaders explore, expose and exploit their Kingdom Calling. Your Calling is the place of convergence between God’s Kingdom Purpose, your God-Honoring Passion and your God-Designed Potential. The vital core of that Potential is your ability; those strengths that came to you by God’s sovereign design.
Run – don’t walk – to the place where we can rescue you from the lame thinking of the under-informed…