by Marina Mikhail
Life is like a game of cards. In order to play, we’re offered a hand of cards with things we can’t choose like our ethnicity, our physical features, our diseases as well as our influencers during childhood and how they treated us (teachers, parents, brothers and sisters). The one card we do have control over is our choice card which has the power to over ride all other cards. We all went through experiences that were beyond our control but we are also given the choice to build our lives using our strengths and the people we chose to have around us. For example, I didn’t choose some of my relationships but I can choose which ones to keep and which ones to build on. We can complain and wish we had a different set of cards or we can make the most of the hand we’re dealt. Once we understand the power of our choice card, we can begin to see how God can use our unique SHAPE for His ultimate plan.
WHY SHOULD WE SERVE?
Service = love, Service = sharing a gift.
We are healed to help others. We are blessed to be a blessing. We are saved to serve, not to sit around and wait for heaven. YOU being an active member of the body of Christ means Jesus now has a new pair of eyes to see with, new ears to listen with, new hands to help with, and a new heart to love others with. Jesus Himself, the Saviour of the mankind, came and laid His life for us, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” - Matt 20:28. So If the King Himself gave His life to others, us as merely lay people, should we not do the same? We are only fully alive when helping others. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” - 1 John 3:14.
Using your shape is one of the secrets for both fruitfulness and fulfillment in service. You will be most effective when you use your spiritual gifts and abilities in the area of your heart’s desire and in a way that best expresses your personality and experiences. The better the fit, the more successful you will be.
S – Spiritual gifts
H – Heart
A – Abilities
P – Personality
E – Experience
Take a long, honest look at what you are good at and what you are not good at. We don’t choose what spiritual gifts we have and we’re not given gifts for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others. No one has received all the gifts and in that way, we need each other. To figure out what gifts you have, ask questions like “where have I seen fruit in my life that other people have confirmed? Where have I already been successful?” Another practical way to figure out what you are good at is to just start serving & experiment with different projects. Try doing things you have never done before and when it doesn’t work out, call it an experiment not a failure and you will eventually learn what you are good at.
Another thought is, what if we looked at our weaknesses as our biggest tool to spread God’s love? What if there was strength in our weakness but also strength in our talents? It is no secret that we are naturally wired to be good at some tasks, better at others, cringingly hopeless at some. Think about what you can uniquely offer to those around you. ‘“My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong’ - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
LISTENING TO YOUR HEART
God has given us a unique emotional heartbeat that races when we think about the subjects, activities or circumstances that interest us. We instinctively care about some things and not about others. These are clues to where we should be serving. Serve God in a way that expresses your heart. Figure out what you love to do, what god gave you a heart to do, and do it for His Glory. If you find that you do not like what is in your heart, just remember your mind is not set in concrete and it can change “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” - Romans 12:2. To say it simply, your thoughts are electric currents. The more you think a thought the more of a groove it creates in your mind and forms the deepest, darkest corners of your heart, “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he” - Proverbs 23:7. If you want to change your life then change your mind and guard your thoughts.
Similar to our spiritual gifts, God has given us the ability to do certain things well. Even abilities used to sin are God given they are just being misused. The abilities you do have are a strong indication of what God wants you to do with your life. We all have UNTAPPED, UNRECOGNISED, UNUSED ABILITIES that are lying dormant inside us and that we don’t know about until we’re made to sink or swim.
Part of accepting your shape is recognising your limitations, nobody is good at everything. Instead of trying to reshape yourself to be like someone else, celebrating the shape God has given you can empower and unleash your upmost potential. The Apostle Paul understood that his calling was not to please everyone or accomplish everything but to focus on the service God has shaped him for, “We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us” - 2 Corinthians 10:13.
Everyone has a unique combination of personality traits. Introverts & extroverts, those who love routine and those who love variety, thinkers & feelers. Some people work best given an individual assignment while others work better with a team. We need all kinds of personalities to balance the church and give it flavor. The world would be a very boring place if we were all vanilla. People may have the same gift of evangelism but if one is introverted and one is extroverted that gift will be expressed in different ways.
“We are mirrors whose brightness is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us” – C.S.Lewis.
We have been shaped by our experiences in life, most of which were beyond our control. God allowed them for His purpose of molding you. A great service can come out of your greatest hurt. Who could better minister to the parents of a down syndrome child than another couple who have a child afflicted in the same way? Who could better help an alcoholic recover than someone who fought that battle and found freedom? What will you do with what you’ve been through? Let us not waste our pain but use it to help others.
Food for thought as we conclude, in Matthew chapter 25, we can find the parable of the talents where the master gives his servants a number of talents. The moral is about doing the most with what they’re given. We’re not graded the same as we are gifted differently. It’s not the amount of cards we’re given that makes us win, it’s how we use the cards we’re dealt by the choices we make.
Glory be to God forever. Amen.
Ref: Fr Anthony Messeh’s Sermon, “Winning With the Hand You’re Dealt With”.