‘I now see how gifts like courage, compassion and connection only work when they are exercised. Every day.’– Brene Brown
If we use our gifts, they will grow stronger. But this requires that we put ourselves in situations that demand the use of our gifts. Situations that squeeze us stretch us and cause us to dig deep for our inner God given resources. It is of little use if we whip our gifts out every now and again in a whirlwind of ‘Christian’ activity or ministry effort. Without consistent use our gifts remain weak and immature, lacking depth and maturity…and power.
Maturity in our gifting is shown through faithfulness, consistency of use and willingness.
In certain situations, particularly those that challenge me and cause me to feel out of my depth, I’ve noticed gifts and abilities emerge. Often it’s something I never considered to be a gift, or a completely fresh ability which seemingly just ‘shows up’ to meet the need.
It’s an amazing feeling to discover the gems God has hidden within us.
As a nursing student specialising in mental health, I get ample opportunity during placements to use my gifts. The ferocity and intensity of the impact of mental illness on individuals demands a wholehearted response from me. I cannot hide away, I cannot retreat, I have to face the person and respond to their distress. I have to look them in the eye and offer support and reassurance. I have to listen to words spilled out in confusion and frustration. It is not easy; in fact at times it is heart-breaking and draining stuff. But it draws the gifts out of me. It causes me to rise to the challenge or be taken down by it, to sink or swim.
My own needs fade into the background during those times and I focus on the needs around me. It is a freeing place to be.
There is balance in this though, the placement ends and studying begins again. Rest is needed to sustain our gifts. In quietness and confidence is where our strength lies, not in the busyness of the day. We need time to breathe, to reflect and to renew. Time to remember that there is only one God…and we are not it.
Our gifts make room for us and for other people too.
‘For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you….Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you– guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.’- 2 Timothy 1 v 6; 1v 14