As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks the oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. 1 Peter 4:10, 11
At my church this Sunday morning,the pastor was preaching on a passage that included the verses quoted above. He asked the rhetorical question of how we can know what our gifts are, and then answered it by saying that we should look around, see what needs to be done, and then figure out what of it we can do. It was such a simple and obvious answer to something we tend to make so complex.
Our pride tells us that our gifts are those things we do better than the average person. So we spend time trying to figure out what those things are with which we can distinguish ourselves, and then wait around for an opportunity to offer those things to God. Perhaps this mindset was established in childhood when we were encouraged to focus on what we would study in college and then when that was done, we would be launched on our 'calling' in life.
We would do better to train our children (and ourselves) that rather than wait until we have degree in hand, we ought to be looking around right now to see what needs to be done, and then figure out what of it we can do. Even a six year-old can collect up the discarded bulletins that are left in the pews at the end of the church service. So can a forty-six year-old. Just about anyone could do the job. Yet we sometimes pass by these ordinary opportunities to serve while we wait for the ministries that will showcase our "special talents."
Once a man came to my former church. He was a well-known man--in Reformed circles at least. His arrival among us excited a certain amount of awe and respect. Soon after his arrival, after a fellowship meal at the church, he picked up a broom and joined the men and boys who were sweeping the fellowship hall. My first inclination was to take the broom from him and do the work myself. After all, he was the famous writer and teacher. How could we let him sweep? Then I realized he was teaching us a better lesson by example. He was following the lead of his Lord, who washed the feet of His disciples. He probably didn't look at it that way. He probably just saw that the floor needed to be swept and knew he had the ability to help get it done.
How often do we see something that needs to be done and say, "Somebody ought to..."? How often do we wonder why the elders haven't seen to this or that rather than offer to help?
How often do we wonder what great thing God has for us to do, rather than pick up a broom and serve, "as one who serves by the strength that God supplies"? Instead we wait for that spectacular ministry that makes use of what we perceive as our special and extraordinary gifts, while a million mundane ministries pass us by. Yet, so very often, it is those mundane ministries that best reflect the love of Christ.