Saturday, December 5, 2009

Putting It All Together - Part 2 Just saying No at Church

You will find out pretty quick that we are not big on formulas at Pagus. We really don’t believe that God is as simple as any quick fix or easy cliché, no matter how pithy the titles of the books or how great the new programs out there are. Not to say aren’t things to be learned from other people’s observations, but we should never place another’s personal experience on the same level as Biblical principles. And the number one Biblical principle is God is relational, hence the whole Jesus thing. So I may repeat myself a few times on this, but it is worth remembering – no one else’s journey will look like yours or mine.

We learn from examples, and the enemy is overcome by the word of our testimony. However, we share our stories not to provide a cookie cutter or fool proof way to achieve your dreams, but as a way to encourage you to seek out how God would have you chase your dream. And right there is the problem, how do you know which dream you should chase?

Conventional church wisdom says we should use our abilities to address a need in the body, and I agree to an extent. The problem is this often boils down to you should volunteer for nursery duty, teach a Sunday school class, lead a small group, mow the church lawn, or give more money. Now, if any of these things truly match your gifting or you feel called and not coerced to do them by all means do. However, if this isn’t your cup of tea and you find that you only do them to avoid the guilt, I would suggest you reconsider your involvement.

Don’t expect this step to be easy. People will look at you as if you just lost your salvation when you smile and firmly but gently say, “No, I really do not feel that I need to be in the nursery.” For people such as me this is a gospel truth. If you want to see a miracle, just lock me in a room full of screaming three year olds, if we all come out alive then God has been busy. Suggest I work with teenagers and I am probably all in. I love their energy and I get their angst in a way I have found few adults do. I am completely baffled at the number of people who cringe over sponsoring on a youth trip, but will willingly submit themselves to four and five year olds. It just doesn’t make any sense.

The point is if we allow our “Christian duty” to be dictated by needs then we will just become embittered like Martha. (Luke 10:38-42). Of course, there are times when we should respond to a need, and we need to be sensitive to God’s prompting of when we should jump in and help and when we should refrain. What we need to remember there will always be needs, and someone will always need to address them. But believe it or not God’s a big God, and the needs of his people do not catch him by surprise. Sometimes an unaddressed need is God’s way of saying we need to rethink how we are doing things, but that is a whole other basket of fish. (Mark 6:30-43).

So if needs are not to dictate our calling, what is? I bet you did not catch that. We aren’t talking about callings, or are we? We were talking about dreams, God given ones, are they the same as a calling? They were for Joseph (Genesis 37) and few other guys in the Bible we could talk about. Dreams are the truest part of who we are, they speak about the things we hold the dearest, and the stuff God has hard wired into us. And some of us function so naturally in the gifts and the abilities that would make a dream possible that we don’t even recognize the dream as a possibility.

I never will forget when one of my professors who happened to be a former editor for a Christian publishing company who asked what I had written. I did not understand the question. I thought there was a problem with one of my papers. He had to explain to me that he wanted to know if I had written any books or articles. I think I stammered out a no, and he went on to explain to me that I should. He told me I could write and I could get paid for it. It was like someone was telling me I could get paid to breathe. The idea was ludicrous – at first.

I have written since I was twelve, but until that point only for class and in my journals. It is easy for me, like breathing. When people tell me they do not have a gift, I smile because these are the ones whose gifts are so innate that they do not even realize they are operating in them. Sometimes they are overlooked because they do not fit in our pretty church boxes. For years I thought I did not have any special gift, all because nothing I do comes into play in a traditional church setting. And I know I am not the only one.

So look closely at your life, what do you do so well that it is not an effort to do? What do you do so naturally that you do not even notice when you do it? Or maybe it takes some work but you just can’t not do it. Perhaps it is something artistic and creative, maybe people walk into your home and immediately feel welcomed, may be people just smile when they talk to you, or maybe you notice the little things others miss. The list can go on and on, but I think you get the idea. This can give you some pretty amazing clues as to what your hidden dream might be.

If you are still lost, go back to your friends – preferably the ones who did not let you lick the electric fly swat, and ask them. Why are they your friends? Do you have any qualities that inspire them? Have you ever taught them something? If they had to describe you in three words, what would they be? Figure out what you do, and eventually the dream will become clearer.

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