Raising the bar

 Photo by  Bruno Cervera

Photo by Bruno Cervera

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
— 1 Peter 4:10-11

Each human is made in the image of God, the ultimate Creator. Thus, we have been blessed with the innate ability to create.

We can generate ideas, build machines, develop businesses, make art, or any number of other things. And our gifts aren’t always in what we produce; often, it's in our abilities to interact with others or to serve them.

In the same way that we are supposed to put our physical resources to good use, so too are we to use our talents for God’s glory.

After all, it is the Father who gave us those abilities in the first place. He is the greatest artist and the inspiration for all creativity.

Jefferson Bethke wrote a powerful piece of spoken word that sums this up better than I can.

God has given each of us abilities to contribute to the world he created (1 Corinthians 12:4-31). And yet, so often we let our passions and ideas dwindle away. We get stuck in the safety of material comfort, forgetting that we were meant for more than finding security.

Jesus tells us that we will have trouble in this life (John 16:33). It’s unavoidable, no matter how many safeguards we put in place. However, we also know that our lives are like passing shadows (Psalm 144:3-4). That knowledge should give us courage to use our gifts to their full potential—even when that means taking a risk or following an unusual path.

This also means that we can’t discount our value, because God has assigned us our abilities for a reason. It’s our job to discover and cultivate those abilities, with his help. 

This raises the bar, in a sense. If we seek to use our gifts for God's glory, then we won't be content with mediocre work. We want to give God the best.

But this doesn't mean we have to be good at everything, or that we can’t fail at times.

It simply means that we always do our best. Some days, that might not feel like enough; we might wish that our best is more than it is. But God never asks more of us than what we're capable of.

A wise friend once said this:

Our best is whatever God wills for us at that moment.

It is mind-blowing to me that God chose to create us with such powerful minds. Just as we are capable of doing immense good, we're also capable of doing incredible evil.

We fail all the time. We take the gifts God has given us and abuse them. But the Father loves us too much and has too high a view of us to make us less than we are.

God gives us each abilities and wants us to use them to share his peace, joy and hope to the world.

Sometimes, it takes a while for us to see past our flaws and accept the things we’re actually good at. Thankfully, Jesus is patient with us as we learn to believe our true self-worth in him.

Our unique personalities have a place in God’s kingdom.

As we’ve seen in the last few posts, we do have clear guidelines for navigating life on earth. However, we can’t boil Scripture down into a 12-step process for living life as followers of Jesus.

The widely different personalities, cultures, resources and abilities represented within the Church can lead to vastly different journeys from person to person. We don’t all have to fit into the same mold. 

However, our shared purpose and beliefs create a common thread that unifies us, even in our differences.