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Discovering and Using Your Gifts For God
Our oldest daughter Heather loves photography and over the past year she has pursued that passion by buying a good Nikon camera, lenses and camera bag, practicing her skills on family and friends, starting a website and blog and going on photo shoots with professionals. I am thrilled to see Heather use her talents for God and learn all she can from others who are successful.
We all have gifts, talents, and skills that God has richly placed in us for His glory. We should not hide our talents like the lazy servant in Matthew 25:14-30, but bring them out of our hearts and minds and bless others with them. God has great plans for our lives, if we will only believe and obey him (Jeremiah 29:11). The acronym WATER describes how women can discover and then use their gifts to advance God’s kingdom on earth.
W. Whet your appetite for God. I just can’t get enough of God’s presence; He is so awesome. Develop a hunger for God and His presence. He is the one who gives us our gifts!
God wants to use you, but do you want to be used? If so, how? Do you want an enriched, exciting life, living it to your full potential, or a mediocre, boring existence?
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight (take great delight, delight) in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” What are your wishes? Take them to Him, and then as you follow Christ, He will bring those things to pass!
A. Ask God, yourself, and others what your spiritual gifts, talents, and skills are. What are you really good at? At least three people have told me that I would make a great wedding coordinator. I love weddings ~ I plan them, shop for them, decorate them, organize them, serve them. One of my favorite movies is “The Wedding Planner” with Jennifer Lopez. That’s why I’m toying with the idea for the future.
Are you naturally good with computers and a great artist? Then you would probably be good as a graphic designer. When you speak at seminars, do you get positive, encouraging feedback? Then you are skilled in communication. Your words carry weight and authority, so use that gift to bless others!
Do you like having friends over for dinner and spending time with them? Then you may have the gift of hospitality. Do you feel deeply or cry when people are hurt and try to comfort them? You probably have gifts of mercy and compassion.
Spiritual gifts can be found in Ephesians 4:11-12 (fivefold ministry gifts), 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (manifest gifts), and 1 Corinthians 12:28. Some churches or websites have tests you can take to find out your spiritual gifts. Find out what yours are and start walking in that authority and anointing!
T. Use your creativity. Vicki Caruana says in her book, Giving Your Child the Excellence Edge (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton IL, p. 49), “Much creative thinking requires remaining sufficiently detached from any one idea to allow consideration of others. This may not come naturally to us. , especially if we’re used to censoring our ideas, as most of us are.”
In other words, thinking outside the box. Allow your mind to run wild. Tell your inner critic to shut up and dare to write that story about what happened in your bedroom one night when you were 5, or that you had an abortion when you were 21. Driving past the “nice and safe” zone to write and speak, be real, go after your emotions and the emotions of your audience.
How to make the most of your creative skills? If you’ve been cutting someone’s hair since you were 12, go to cosmetology school and get paid to do something you love. If you love baking or cooking, start a catering business. Do you think about horses first and last thing every day? Take riding lessons from a good trainer and start performing on English horses. Sometimes our best creative thoughts come when we’re just having a lot of fun!
Creativity also means allowing yourself to try new things and feel new sensations, like hot air ballooning in New Mexico or skiing in Colorado. Color outside the lines; use a large box of crayons with colors like Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown. Buy new clothes for your wardrobe that you admire but have never dared to try before.
To set the wheels in motion, turn off the DVD player and go for a walk around your neighborhood and actually see it for the first time. Look, listen, smell, touch, taste. Too often we are out of the zone and don’t even notice our surroundings. Do you know what kind of car your neighbor drives? For that matter, do you even know what your neighbor looks like or talk to her? Have you ever noticed that around your block there is a house with Spanish-style architecture and an enchanting, almost hidden, outdoor garden like a miniature Secret Garden?
Go to a big zoo and just look at the animals and people. Do homemade science projects. Read about strange things in space, as scientists say the rumble is fast approaching our galaxy. Start a flower or vegetable garden and play in the dirt. Reading good literature and listening to classical or some kind of relaxing music feeds our brains with creative, new ideas every day.
E. Exercise your gifts diligently. Muscles atrophy when not used regularly: “Use it or lose it.” Do we really want to bury our talents in 40 years, and wake up one morning, realizing we are old, too late, and not what we ever wanted to be ~ artist, singer, soldier, missionary in South Africa, writer, dolphin trainer ? As we find out what our gifts, talents and skills are and begin to cultivate them, they will flourish. They will also create inner happiness and bring joy to God and others.
We must reduce those things that hinder us from maximizing our potential. Why are we wasting our time working in a hardware store when what we really want is to go to law school and be a lawyer? If solving crimes fascinates you and you’ve always wanted to be a detective, why are you coaching high school basketball? If you feel stuck in your job or role, break free. Take action. Pay attention to what is in your heart.
God gives us certain desires, for good reason. Interestingly, these desires are often connected to our spiritual gifts, talents and skills, and ultimately our calling. I have several friends who love working with children, and are gifted at teaching. So they work in a Christian school, and they are completely happy and fulfilled doing this.
If you are just starting out in your craft, take a leap of faith. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Give yourself room to grow. Set high goals and discipline yourself to become more educated, write that article, speak at a small church, or work on your website to improve it.
It’s like getting into great physical shape. If you have 40 extra pounds, you won’t lose it overnight. A few years ago I started making healthier decisions to lose weight – eat more salads and less fast or processed food, drink more water, take vitamin supplements, use hand weights. Aerobic exercise is the main area where I need much more discipline to get down to my ideal weight. But I have to do something instead of nothing. Start where you are to use those talents. And see how God will make his garden of glory grow!
R. Reach for your dreams. Be determined to live a full, beautiful life and don’t waste a second. Life is just full of possibilities and adventures! One of our family’s favorite movies is “Secondhand Lions”. A young man abandoned by his mother to live his fun life left him in a strange house to live with his two old, grumpy uncles, who didn’t want him there. But eventually their relationship grew closer and he learned a lot from these larger men. One of the lines we love from the movie is after the uncles die and leave the nephew with all their inheritance (which was substantial). Telling another man about his two uncles, he said with great admiration, “They really lived.”
Are you really living ~ or just existing? Is this the life you really want? If not, when will you start?
Remove the ceiling from your thinking, the boundaries you’ve conditioned yourself to, which stem from the perceptions of others and negative self-talk. Listen to what you are saying to yourself. Our thoughts have a great influence on our lives. Learn to train your mind to think positive thoughts about success, instead of toxic, destructive thoughts. Hang on to a verse like, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me!”
Our daughter Leah has a little sign in her room with a bright yellow star on it: “Wish on a Star.” What are your top three wishes? My first would be if I had more wishes.
what do you want to do? What do you like to do? Your passion is the key to understanding your gifts and abilities!
Marnie Swedberg summed it up for me on her recent Writer’s Radio show with author/speaker Cindy Rushton when she said she never feels more alive than when she’s speaking in front of a large group of people. I really relate to it! It scared me to death to stand in front of people and speak. I was literally physically shaking and stuttering, and felt like I was going to pass out. To be honest, I’m still a little nervous before I speak, but as soon as I step on the platform, it melts away as God’s anointing comes down – thank God for His grace and that precious anointing ~ I never want to do it without Him! And I LOVE it! I feel alive while writing and speaking! That’s the way God made me!
What is God calling you to do that is much bigger than you? Nothing is impossible with God. And He wants to do the impossible through you and for you!
S. “Study to show that you are approved.” (2 Timothy 2:15) That means learning all you can, bringing honor to God, and obeying Him. Stay in God’s word daily. Proverbs 4:7-8 says, “Wisdom is the main thing; therefore get wisdom. And in everything you get, get understanding. Exalt it, and it will improve you.”
Find daily quiet time with God and let him speak to you and guide you. His Holy Spirit will teach you all things. (1 John 2:27)
Continue with more education, classes, trainings, seminars. Find a mentor to teach you. Be like a sponge and soak up all you can from people who are successful in your field of interest. How did they begin to use their gifts or talents? What were the practical steps they took? Extract the precious from the worthless. God has a unique plan for your life that He wants to accomplish. He is the main mentor.
Be humble and accept help from people, even family and friends. Relationships are priceless, not only for the intimacy and satisfaction they bring, but also for the networking. Not burning any bridges is always a good idea, unless absolutely necessary for your safety, sanity, or deliciousness. It’s a very small world, and I’ve been amazed at how certain people have come back into my life years later (some I wish I didn’t have, but maybe they feel that way too!). However, sometimes these are divine connections. A good rule of thumb is this: be as kind to people as possible. Don’t you appreciate good people?
Rudeness is not an exceptional trait. And they may come after you later, especially when they find out that you are now a Christian speaker and writer. Most of all, God is love and we as believers want to be like Him and show others that wonderful love. Our gifts are for God’s glory and for the advancement of His kingdom. We want to model Jesus, to be His hands, feet and heart to a lost and dying world.
Our gifts are like special gifts, eagerly waiting for God to open them. He has many beautiful surprises in store for us and others as we seek His face, unwrap the gift, and then gratefully enjoy them and use them for Him and to bless others.
Copyright 2009 Beth Jones
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