Friday, October 10, 2008

Gifted for the Good of Others

As I scurry around today getting ready for a weekend retreat, I am thankful for what the Lord gave me this morning from Ephesians as I started my day with Him. I am in chapter 4, where Paul is listing the gifts Christ bestowed on those He redeemed. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers. . . all given for the equipping of the saints. Not the saint who has been gifted, mind you. The saints who will be the recipients of the gifted individuals’ efforts.

Until this point, Paul had been writing about the need for unity within the body of Christ. Jews and Gentiles have everything that matters in common, Paul has told them. We all came to be part of the church from an equal playing field-- sinners saved by the grace and mercy of God. At the beginning of chapter 4, Paul tells the Ephesians to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. He then lists attitudes necessary to do this: gentleness, patience, tolerance, and diligence to preserve unity. It struck me as I read through these a few days ago that each attitude puts others’ needs before my own.

Now as I read the reason for the gifts given to members of the church, that same attitude rings clearly. We are here for each other. God has gifted us to build each other up.

In my line of work, that truth often gets swallowed up as a speaker gains popularity. It becomes all about their ministry rather than about the people that are recipients of their ministry. It is an easy slide into self-importance when you are up in front of a crowd, their faces earnest, writing down every word you say. Yet if we allow ourselves to become the center of what we are trying to do, we will miss the mark. Our ministry will become about self-promotion, rather than about assisting others to maturity.

God, protect me from this!! Make me so aware every time I stand in front of a group of women that you are choosing to use me in order to build your church. It is not about me, nor about building my ministry. It is about bringing others closer to the mark of being mature in Christ.

Every time I speak, the Lord seems to bring a truth like this along to remind me of my dependence on Him. I need it-- my heart so quickly strays from Him and on to my own agenda. My prayer today, as I travel up to the mountains to meet with the women at Grace Presbyterian, is that God will use me, the gifts He has given me, to encourage His people along the right paths.


Zoe said...

Hey Julie,
Thanks so much for your insightful post on my blog. I hope you will continue to leave your posts there. I'm so blessed to be inspired by spiritually mature women like you.
FYI... I'm hosting a Candy Quiz tomorrow.

Dr. Cathy R. Turner said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I enjoy reading about your every day joys and struggles. I hope your retreat went well. I'm sure God used you to bless the ladies!