The first week of July my family and I traveled to central Pennsylvania for a vacation of discovery—from two days at Hersey Park to the 158th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, it did my heart good to see my kids leaning into history and discovering their love (or hate) of rollercoasters. But the most fabulous stops along the journey was a visit to the Science Factory in Lancaster, PA. It was awesome—a giant invitation to be a kid again. There were cars to construct and race, airplanes to fold and fly and an entire stage complete with sound and light console. It was awesome to watch my kids at work—Sarah mesmerized by making her own music, David quickly constructing his own airplane, Topher building his own car and Addie, spending her time making waterways for boats. Each one of my children discovering their own passion and giftedness! Is that what God is like?
God–watching you and I innovate, question, experiment and discover our passion and giftedness.
We’ve all been uniquely, beautifully, equally, and exceptionally gifted! It’s why we spend so much time taking those personality tests: Myers Briggs, Enneagram, Strengths Finders or even the latest Facebook quiz “which marvel character are you?” We are hungry to discover who we really are, what makes us tick, what are best potential contribution to the world might be. This world needs the passion that you carry within you. You are gifted.
It’s easy for us to play the comparison game.
We wish we had more education, more talent, more creativity or more skills.
But Jesus promised that everything we need we already have!
This space of curious discovery is exactly where those first Jesus followers found themselves in— all things new. They were becoming part of something fresh, not same ‘ol but something new—a new family, a new community, new way of living, and a new way of perceiving themselves as vital parts of the whole.
Imagine you are a first century woman, or child, or economically challenged man, or isolated by your wealth or someone’s slave and suddenly you’re hearing that in Jesus you’ve been made new, and you have a new function in the body of Christ. Everybody, every person, everyone, had a function within this community of faith.
What’s your Function?
We keep growing, transforming, and adapting.
We call that the process of sanctification.
We are messy and miraculous works in progress.
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1: 9-13 NIV).
The apostle Paul is writing this letter after a visit from the church planter, Epaphras. Paul has never met these Jesus followers in Colossae but is concerned about their ongoing growth as a community of faith. So, Paul is helping them understand what it means to be part of the body of Christ and to have a function in the community of faith.
Human beings have natural gifts—some are fast, or strong, funny, witty. Some are naturally gifted teachers, administrators, or machine enthusiasts or athletes. Some like to cook or collect, workout or carve wood. Others find passion in music or marriage counseling. We have stuff that we are just good at—it’s the way we are wired. We are naturally gifted but supernaturally filled.
“I pray for God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:9-10 NIV).
Paul was pointing to the reality that when we say yes to Jesus, we experience the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Your supernatural gifting is the intersection of where God’s power and your natural gifting meet. God fills you in such a way that you are able to use the natural to do the supernatural.
Take what God has already given you and partner with God to bring hope and healing to a broken world.
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Fredrick Buechner
If you’re wondering what your supernatural gift might be, put it through this simple test. If your answer is yes to all three, then you’re probably on to something:
Does it honor God?
Does it bless others?
Does it bring you Joy?
If you’ve never taken a spiritual gift inventory, here’s a helpful quiz to help you discover your unique giftedness: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/spiritual-gifts-inventory/en
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is just part of God’s invitation. Paul also wanted the Colossians to realize they were and are Supernaturally qualified.
“…and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light” (Colossians 1: 11-12 NIV).
We don’t qualify ourselves! God qualifies us.
God’s the one who made you, decided who gets what gift and promised to be with you every step of the way.
God has qualified you and there ain’t nothin’ you can do about it.
Sometimes in faith communities we expect immediate perfection, but it takes practice. What if we actively took a role in mentoring one another into maximizing those supernatural gifts for God’s kingdom? What if we cheered each other on and picked each other up?
In his book, Outliers, author, Malcolm Gladwell, debunks the concept that the most naturally gifted people rise the top and become the most successful. He recognized the 10,000-hour rule. That really to master anything one must perform 10,000 hours of work to do. There are no short cuts.
“The lesson here is very simple. But it is striking how often it is overlooked. We are so caught in the myths of the best and the brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from the earth. We look at the young Bill Gates and marvel that our world allowed that thirteen-year-old to become a fabulously successful entrepreneur. But that’s the wrong lesson. Our world only allowed one thirteen-year-old unlimited access to a time-sharing terminal in 1968. If a million teenagers had been given the same opportunity, how many more Microsofts would we have today?” – Malcolm Gladwell
Keep stepping out, keep lifting one another up – but know that God through the power of the Holy Spirit is qualifying and empowering you.
“…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.” (Colossians 1:11 NIV)
Tom and Elaine Sampley were regular Church attenders, regular parents, regular life groups leaders. Elaine with her gift of hospitality and Tom as a local real estate agent. They had natural gifts and abilities, they served within the church, but then one day this ordinary couple got a God-sized vision for people on the other side of the globe. Tom and Elaine Sampley were in their late 40s when the Holy Spirit came pounding on the door of their hearts and minds and they used their gifts of networking and hospitality to transform an old communist estate home in the Czech Republic into our first Common Grounds coffee shop – reaching out with the love of Jesus to folks who barely believed in God at all. I sat down with Tom and Elaine and wanted you to hear their story…
Tom and Elaine have lived a lifetime of offering their natural gifts for God’s supernatural purposes.
Maybe you will help change the world with flowers, because you believe that the giving and receiving of flowers transforms a person’s day. Perhaps you will use your passion for animal raising to teach people God’s love for creation. Maybe your passion for pickleball might just be the platform that God’s going to use to launch a health revolution and God’s wanting to do it through you.
Don’t hold back.