It was a Wednesday, and I was hiding in the church kitchen, eating mint chip ice cream from a paper bowl. The giant tub was halfway gone, and the Post-It on the lid said, “Youth Group.”
Since I’m on staff as an assistant to our youth ministry, I felt justified in helping myself to three large scoops. I took a seat at a round table in the corner, away from all the windows, and ate my ice cream while watching the clock on the wall.
Hiding from God
Twenty minutes. Only twenty more minutes until it was time to go upstairs for the task I’d been dreading all week. When I had agreed to mediate a conversation between two of our high school girls who were embroiled in a fight, it wasn’t because I was a skilled mediator; rather, it was from a desire to help.
In fact, the presence of conflict makes me uneasy. I squirm on the inside and am quick to say whatever I think will make the tension go away. I will throw myself under a bus to make an argument come to an end.
Ten more minutes. The thought of getting involved in the drama between these two girls, the pressure I felt to help them resolve the issue, made me want to hide in the kitchen indefinitely. I’m no therapist, after all. Mediating is not my skill set. But I remembered the gentle nudge I felt when they asked me to step in.
Followers can’t be choosers
It’s not like once I decided to follow Jesus, I handed Him a list of everything I would be willing to do for Him, all my skills and interests, all the areas in which I felt confident and competent, then told him to pick something from the list.
The Bible is clear that each of us is gifted in different ways, and even goes on to name several spiritual gifts in more than one place in the New Testament. Gifts like those listed in Romans chapter 12 (exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy, prophecy, service, and teaching) are broad categories and are helpful in pointing to where our strengths may lie.
The Bible is not specific, however, in the day to day use of our gifts, other than that we are to practice them with love (1 Corinthians 13). In fact, it can become easy to hide behind our spiritual gifts when we are faced with a need.
When God called Moses to speak to Pharaoh and lead his people out of Egypt, I imagine Moses would have found it very handy to show the Lord the results of his spiritual gifts survey as proof that he was not qualified for the job.
“Oh my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Exodus 4:10, ESV)
Romans 12:1 tells us that we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, as an act of spiritual worship. When we are following Christ, we offer up our whole selves for his glory: our interests, our hobbies, our passions, our past experiences, even our mistakes. Everything about us is fair game when it comes to furthering His kingdom.
A week of dread had produced no tidy way out, so here I sat with my bowl of ice cream. I signed up to follow Jesus, and this is where He led me. I hoped that the sugar would give me a boost of energy for whatever awaited me upstairs.
Five more minutes. I used these last minutes to pray and to pray fervently, having exhausted all the terrible what-if scenarios that played out in the hypothetical.
Here we go
I trudged upstairs and saw the first girl already waiting for me. She gave me a shy smile as we entered the office. She made herself comfortable on one of the couches, and I took the rolling desk chair. The other girl came in next, and gathered her backpack and nervous energy with her on the other couch.
I faced them both with a deep breath and opened with what my husband (an actual trained psychologist) suggested that I say: “I’m not here to take sides, or blame anyone, or give any opinions. I’m just here to help facilitate a conversation. Why don’t you tell me why we’re here?”
What followed next were words, thousands of them volleyed back and forth, quietly, passionately, pleadingly. I interjected to clarify and summarize. Digging through many layers of drama, the issue revealed itself: a simple misunderstanding which then snowballed into other misunderstandings, which then became an avalanche as other friends were brought into the fray and chose sides.
Apologies were made. Then the tears fell, and the girls held each other in a long, weepy hug. They sat there for quite some time, crying into the other’s shoulder, the sunlight streaming in the window behind them. The victory was beautiful, and it took all of my self-control not to snap a picture with my phone!
I felt so relieved, walking out of that office. And surprised that things had gone so well, though perhaps I shouldn’t have been, knowing how big our God is.
When it comes to furthering God’s kingdom, your gifting doesn’t matter as much as your willingness to serve.Tweet
How is God using you?
Is there something you feel called to do that makes you uncomfortable? Some way in which you feel led to serve but don’t feel qualified to? God can use you anyway! All He needs is your willing heart!
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