Rev. J. Harold Stephens tells of a particular cooking crisis:
There was a young bride, a poor cook, whose husband came home to find her crying. “The dog ate the biscuits,” she sobbed.
“Never mind, Honey,” he said. “We’ll get another dog.” *
Husbands’ complaints about their wives” bad cooking is common fodder for comedians’ jokes. Comedian Rodney Dangerfield, known for his belittling humor, once said, “My wife’s such a bad cook, the dog begs for Alka-Seltzer.”
You know that you’re a bad cook if your husband affectionately tells house guests your smoke detector is “the oven timer.”
The biscuits joke about the dog reminded me of one of the first meals I made my husband. He jokingly tossed my hard, slightly burned biscuits across the room, teasing, “Wheee … flying saucers!” I was not amused.
Suffice it to say, I’m not Julia Child, Rachel Ray, Paula Deen … or anyone remotely like them. I am not a good cook. I’m a fair-to-middlin’ cook. I mean, The Bobbert is hardly starving. And it’s a good thing he’s a man of simple tastes … not a gourmet. Meat. Potatoes. Dessert. Occasional fruit smoothies. That’s about it. Oh, and Cheetos. And donuts. A quick trip to the grocery section of Wal-Mart more than satisfies my man.
But that doesn’t mean I should stop trying. I truly believe that all of us shine in at least one or a few areas. Ask me to proofread my husband’s ministry newsletters, and I’m a pro. He hugs me in gratitude. Ask me to organize or teach anything or anyone and he’ll beam at me with pride.
Just don’t ask me to make a spinach-artichoke souffle. (Why would I want to, anyway?) But since The Bobbert and I married, I can make passable roasted turkey, sweet potato casserole, and green beans. I can make a superb cherry pie. I even learned to make the family specialty ~ Ableskivvers ~ at Christmas.
I’m doing OK … shining in my areas of gifting, and slugging away at learning the rest.
I think that God’s perspective on us is much the same. The Holy Spirit gives each believer a gift or more at the moment he or she becomes a member of God’s family (Romans 12:6-8). God gives these gifts as He wills, and we are expected to use each gift to build up and encourage the “family” (Ephesians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). But then, as we focus on Jesus, and God’s Spirit makes us more like Him, we will begin to notice that we have touches of the other gifts. Or at the least, we are to be obedient to try to practice them. Misunderstanding of this can be a hindrance to ministry.
My gifts are teaching, shepherding, and encouraging ~ in that order. But God also gives me opportunities to practice hospitality, give, show mercy, serve, use administrative skills, etc. I don’t “shine” in these areas, but He uses me, nonetheless.
Not everyone has every gift, but we can’t make the excuse, “That’s not my gift!” if God is calling us to step forward in a situation and serve Him. At different periods in my life, I had to step forward and do work that I am not naturally “gifted” to do. It wasn’t always comfortable, but it was necessary. (But I have to admit that it helped my prayer life, because I prayed for someone to come along who WAS gifted in those areas!)
Some people don’t know their gifts, even though there are many tests available to help them discover their gifts (Here is one: spiritual gifts analysis Note: you will be asked for your email to get results, but you can then unsubscribe). Sometimes church members have never been trained for ministry ~ how to use their gifting. A wise pastor or youth leader will take on that training to strengthen the church.
But on the other hand, some Christians are just plain lazy. They don’t want to help out. Some say, “I’ve done my time” in church as though it were a prison sentence.
One of my college profs told the class, “Twenty percent of the members in any given church do 80 percent of the work.” That’s amazing … and disheartening. The truth is, if some church members are lazy, it’s sure that other church members have to make up for them, shouldering a heavier load.
This doesn’t mean, for example, that if you’re not called to preach or teach you should suddenly become a preacher or teacher. But it does mean that if a believer suddenly finds himself or herself caught up in a situation where preaching and teaching are necessary, God may be moving that person to (in obedience to His clear direction) share truth or teach.
Many of the gifts, however, are actually Christian virtues we all should practice to one degree or another: giving, serving, encouraging, etc. (Think of all the “one anothers” of scripture to see what I mean.)
So what is your gift? How can you use it more effectively in the days ahead?
Thank God for your gifting, but don’t neglect obedience and opportunities for lack of “a gift.” You can do all things God wants you to do, through Christ’s strength! (Philippians 4:13)
* “Deadly Dog Biscuits,” 1001 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking, by Michael Hodgin, #209, p. 92