What you are is God’s gift to you; what you do with yourself is your gift to God. -Danish proverb
When we attempt to serve God in ways we aren’t shaped to serve, we waste our time, talent & energy. We best serve God when we discover our shape, learn to accept & enjoy it, & then develop it to its fullest potential.
1. Discover Your Shape
Begin by assessing our gifts & abilities. Spiritual gifts & natural abilities are always confirmed by others. Be cognizant also that we may be serving, teaching or giving generously out of maturity rather than because its our spiritual gift. The best way to discover our gifts & abilities is by experimenting w/different areas of service. We have dozens of hidden abilities & gifts we don’t know we have because we’ve never tried them out. Warren urges us to never stop experimenting—he tells us of a woman in her nineties who runs & wins 10K races & didn’t discover that she enjoyed running until she was 78!
He tells us not to try figuring out our gifts before volunteering to serve somewhere. Just start serving!
Consider our heart & our personality. What do I really enjoy doing most? When do I feel the most alive? What am I doing when I lose track of time? Do I like routine or variety? Do I prefer serving w/a team or by myself? Am I more introverted or extroverted? Am I more a thinker or a feeler? What do I enjoy more—competing or cooperating?
Examine our experiences & extract the lessons we’ve learned. Warren recommends we take an entire weekend for a life review retreat, where we pause to see how God has worked in the various defining moments of our life & consider how he wants to use those lessons to help others.
2. Accept & Enjoy Your Shape. Instead of reshaping ourselves to be like someone else, we should celebrate the shape God has given only to us. Part of accepting is recognizing our limitations. We all have defined roles. We shouldn’t be envious of the runner in the lane next to us; just focus on finishing our own race. God wants us to enjoy using the shape He has given us. We should never compare our ministry with others, or conform our ministry to the expectations of others. If we compare, we will always be able to find someone who can do a better job & will become discouraged. Or we will get full of pride if we find someone who isn’t as effective as we are. Either attitude removes us from service & robs us of our joy. Avoid comparisons, resist exaggerations, & seek only God’s commendation.
As John Bunyan said, “If my life is fruitless, it doesn’t matter who praises me, & if my life is fruitful, it doesn’t matter who criticizes me”.
3. Keep Developing Your Shape. We are to cultivate our gifts & abilities, keep our hearts aflame, grow our character & personality, & broaden our experiences so we will be increasingly more effective in our service. If we don’t utilize the abilities & skills God has given us, we will lose them. Use the ability God has given us, & God will increase it. Whatever gifts we have been given can be enlarged & developed thru practice. Don’t settle for a half-developed gift. Stretch yourself & learn all you can. Take advantage of every training opportunity to develop your shape & sharpen your serving skills.
Question to Consider: How can I make the best use of what God has given me?
* We will be writing about what inspires us from each consecutive chapter of Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. If you read along with us, please share your inspirations. There’s no need to catch up, just jump right in.