Serving up our gifts

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach.” (Romans 12:6-7 )

There was a year during the time I was in youth group that I served on the leadership committee for youth group. We did not have an overly large group, but large enough that there were the popular crowd and those on the fringe. I, with some of my friends, inhabited the fringe. One year our adult group leaders went about choosing the leadership committee differently. The whole group, fringe and popular core, went on a weekend retreat. The focus was how effective leadership happens. Because everyone was involved in discussions, and the larger group broke into small listening groups, my small voice was heard and I was affirmed for leadership. It was a very good year for me in youth group, but alas the following year the learnings from that weekend did not carry over, and the popular core again had sway. And because I had already had the experience of being on the committee, our adult leaders felt that others should have a chance. My “fringe-ness” overcame me again, and I was again on the outside looking in.

Do not fear I was “scarred” for life, because I remember that year only through thinking about this verse from Romans chapter twelve. It is a small part of my total growing up years, and if anything negative ever come from it, I have long ago resolved it and moved forward. But it does explain why I at some point overcame my being in the shadows and many times stepped forward into the forefront. Maybe the residuals of that year lay dormant only to bloom at an opportune time.

The point is, during that retreat that allowed all voices to be heard, other people in my youth also had an opportunity to be heard and share their gifts. I am sure I was not the only one that was grateful and enriched by having our voices heard and our skills recognized. It seems to me that the model of discerning leadership for that year reflected movements that were going on in other parts of the church, and in other arenas. But I think was our group discovered ipso facto, and what other groups might have also, is that it takes a lot of energy and dedication to keep the model of leadership discernment going. Not only do you have to have leaders who are willing to start it, but you have to have leadership that keeps it going. The “reins of power” have to be gently and thoughtful held in order for everyone to have a part and a voice, and to allow the process of discernment to continue.

The writer of Romans says that those who prophesy “ let [them] him use it in proportion to [their] his faith,” and that “the grace given us” from God will be the source of the gifts. If people are not given the skills to look inside themselves, and the chance to make use of the gifts given, then the church and God’s ministry will suffer. It is not enough to see and offer those gifts that we have; we ought to look and encourage those gifts in others.
But then this a basic tenet in good leadership. And it is good practice of shalom to see and encourage giftedness. People who are called upon and involved in good works will not be subject to despair and isolation, left on the fringes. The practice of shalom can and should be so interwoven into all that we do, and should inform every endeavor.

May you gentle reader have your gifts seen, recognized, and used in service of our Lord’s ministry of shalom. Selah!

P.S. As I think about why this is a noteworthy date for me, my birthday, I invite our readers to let us know when their birthday is. I would be honored to make not of a special blessing for them in commemoration of that special day. Shalom, Carole

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