12×12 Challenge: Day 6 (December 31st)

Day 6 begins with Romans 12 in the God’s Word Translation (GW): Click HERE to read!

Word(s) for Day 6: (Different) Gifts

‘God in His kindness gave each of us different gifts.’ Romans 12:6a (GW)

The year we are wrapping up today was filled with gifts from a kind and loving God. Gifts that suit us. Gifts that reflect our God-ordained abilities and talents. Gifts that fit our age and stage of life. Different from the gifts that God has given others, your gifts are for you to develop, practice and use in the world around you, for the good of those whom your life touches, and for the glory of the One Who gave those gifts to you in the first place. Let’s finish 2012 by asking two questions that, when answered, have the potential of bringing heaven to earth in the year to come:

How am I different from others?

How might my differences be part of God’s gift for my family, my community, my church and my world?

Prayer:

Generous God, You give the greatest gifts! Thank You for making me just the way I am, even though I admit that there are times when I struggle to see myself as gifted. Remind me that all I ever have to be is my simple, quirky, unique self. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, help me to uncover the passion You planted within me – the Spirit-fire that ignites the gifts I find under my ‘tree’ every morning (great is Your faithfulness!). I want to embrace the life You’ve given to me as I begin another year, eager to live into my calling as You lead and coach me, one day at a time. Help me to fix my focus on serving You with my different gifts while giving others the space and encouragement they need to find themselves in You as well. Amen.

Overwhelmed by NEED: Help Well

What’s a conscientious Christian to do in the midst of OVERWHELMING NEED? When the people whose lives intersect with ours have needs that threaten to consume the time/energy/generosity of everyone around them, how can we remain true to the call of Christ (and help them) without burning out or wanting to run away?

I suspect that no one is immune to the needs of others. We all live, work and interact with needy, hurting people who are looking for help, comfort and healing in a painfully broken world. Whether the need we bump into is rooted in economic factors, health and aging issues or situational agony, we as Christians sense a call to action that can leave us feeling confused, guilty and overwhelmed.

I have watched as groups work to respond to such overwhelming needs as families whose income has been affected due to job loss, aging adults whose independence is threatened by disease and mental decline, individuals whose personal trauma gets in the way of healthy interaction with others, and people who are ashamed of and feel stuck in their past history or uncomfortable present reality. Sometimes the needs presented by just one person in a group or family are so intense that the rest of us, caring and loving as we try to be, find our desire and ability to help that person dwindling to the point of inaction.

When it hurts us to help them, there has to be another way.

No matter if today finds you IN NEED or NEEDING TO HELP others, Paul speaks to your situation in 2 Corinthians chapter 8. Paul encourages us to remember that we are “shoulder to shoulder with [each other] all the way, [our] surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching [our] deficit.” In the end, says Paul, we come out even.

For today, we may be on the surplus side of life, so that our plenty can supply for our brothers and sisters in need. But the reality is that tomorrow may bring a shift of the scales, leaving us in need of what our brothers and sisters now have to give. We’re all in this together – some days we are able to GIVE, while other days are marked only by our desperate forms of NEED. Either way, God’s plan provides for balance, which means that we have to LEARN both how to HELP WELL (today’s topic) and NEED WELL (next week).

HELPING WELL

Do What You CAN! Paul encouraged the church at Corinth to commit to caring for the needy among them, but he added this critical point (a point the church today often misses):

“Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t.” (2 Cor. 8:11 The Message)

YOUR effectiveness in the lives of others can only be maximized by doing what you CAN in a given situation. The problem most of us end up facing is that we dive head-first into helping others, making commitments to them that we are not equipped to fulfill. Whether those commitments are of our TIME, MONEY, EXPERTISE or ENERGY, if we commit out of a passion to help no matter what, we are likely to drown in our own good intentions.

For believers to truly be effective in the lives of others, we must begin by knowing ourselves! It is our responsibility as members of the body of Christ to recognize our own spiritual gifts, talents and abilities. We MUST know what it is that we CAN GIVE before we stick out our neck to offer help that others so desperately need. There are many useful tools to help us find our ‘fit’ in the Kingdom work of God, including Spiritual Gifts Inventories (click below for more on this topic):

https://pinkshoesministries.wordpress.com/category/spiritual-gifts/

Pastor Rick Warren talks about the importance of knowing your SHAPE in order to actively participate with God in this world:

  • S piritual Gifts
  • H eart
  • A bilities
  • P ersonality
  • E xperiences

Check out Pastor Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, to find out more about your SHAPE for service to others! (If your small group is interested, Zondervan publishes a curriculum called “Doing Life Together” that digs into this and other topics from Warren’s book.)

OVERFLOW Another first-step for us in helping others is to seriously consider what our OVERFLOW is. In other words, what do you have an EXCESS of? Is it TIME, MONEY, SPACE in your home, ROOM in your heart? You can’t give what you don’t have! Knowing your overflow directly affects the ways you reach out to others by creating boundaries for you to work within (keeping you healthy and increasing the chances that you’ll have something left to give the NEXT person who reaches out to you for help).

TRIGGERS Some of us aren’t likely to reach out and help because we feel that what we have to give is too little. When presented with an enormous need, we shrink back because there is no way our resources could seemingly make a dent in that person’s situation. Or, so we think. God knew this would be an issue for us, so He addressed it early on, in the book of Deuteronomy:

“When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that GOD, your God, is giving you, don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see him. Don’t keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs… Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers GOD, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.” (Deut. 15:7-8, 10-11 The Message)

What God is saying to us is that our actions toward helping those in need, however small, trigger something in HIM! A BLESSING! On everything you do! God chooses to multiply our every heart-felt effort to help, no matter how small it may seem on the surface. What a tragedy for all of us when believers withhold assistance because we’re afraid it won’t be enough. Let’s face it – it probably isn’t going to be enough! But God can bridge the gap between what we have and what they need, providing the difference in ways we can’t even imagine. Yet if we allow our stingy hearts their way, God’s blessing isn’t triggered. At least not by us.

Faithfully (& Firmly) DRAW BOUNDARIES It’s no secret that our health and well-being, both physically and spiritually, relies on boundaries. No one person, no matter how motivated or gifted, can be all things to all people! God knew this, and He explains it to us by providing the human body as an illustration to help us understand that we are each just a PART of what He can do in this world, or in the life of a struggling brother or sister. (Check out Paul’s description of the Body of Christ in I Corinthians chapter 12.) It’s almost impossible for us to draw healthy boundaries, however, until we understand our SHAPE for service – how we ‘fit’ into His Body on earth.

PAY ATTENTION Once we’re armed with the knowledge of our gifts and abilities, God will lead us into acting (or NOT acting) in specific ways on behalf of others. In order to follow His lead, believers must cultivate an ear for the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit. To effectively serve in the Kingdom of God, you and I must pay attention to the Spirit’s prompts – those which compel us to MOVE, and those which compel us to WAIT. Faithfully leaning into Scripture helps us to hear His voice, which in turn helps to shape the scope and sequence of our ministry toward others.

BEWARE of GUILT! Many of us wrestle with feelings of guilt when it comes to deciding who to help and how much help to give. How many times have you not done something that you thought you ‘should’ do, only to feel badly about it later? I’m here to tell you that GOD does not produce GUILT! There is nothing that I have found in God’s Word that says He will guilt you into doing what you cannot do, or that He will punish you with guilt in any circumstance.

Guilt is real don’t get me wrong but it doesn’t come from God. Don’t let your misunderstanding of guilt keep you from following God’s leading in your life. Trust Him to do the right thing by and in you and leave the rest in His hands.

SHARE the JOY! Helping to meet the needs of others is a REAL JOY for the people of God! Maybe you haven’t thought of it quite like this before, but when we try to do more than we’re equipped to follow through with, we rob others of the opportunity to join in God’s work, too. You might have a friend, for instance, who cannot drive and whose medical needs and physical limitations are intense and many. You have a car, and you have Tuesdays free. Do what you CAN for your friend on Tuesdays, and let others know what your friend needs the rest of the week. Together there’s a really good chance that your group can meet most of her needs, but in case there’s still a gap, be willing to suggest alternatives.

KNOW your community and its resources (or know someone else who does)! CONNECT your friend with services and organizations whose focus IS MEETING that very need! Spread the joy around, so that no one is burdened with work that was never theirs to do.

Next week on PINK Tuesday we’ll consider what it looks like to NEED WELL. I’ll see you back here on my absolutely, positively FAVORITE DAY of the week!

Just Be HONEST

Seriously ridiculous.

It’s PINK Tuesday and I am on the road… again.

In the air, rather, and en route to the gathering of some of my favorite kinds of folks – youthworkers.

Tired. Overworked. A little cranky. A little crazy. (Sounds a LOT like ME!)

 

You can ask them – my family will tell you that this description fits. Sometimes I am pretty unclear about what my gifts are and how to use them in the world, for God’s glory and for the good of others. Maybe you can relate?

If you’ve got about 20 minutes and need to know that your gifts matter, click this link for a video introduction and an audio message, recorded at my home church on Sunday, Nov. 13th 2011:

Just Be Honest

Thank you for flying with Pink Shoes Ministries!

 

one hundred (a PINK Tuesday post)

One hundred is a big number. A sizable number. One worth noting.

If you’re a collector and you have one hundred items in your collection, it’s worth sharing with others (possibly worth investing in your own museum for proper showcasing)!

If you’re a cook, the day that your personal specialties numbers one hundred dishes is a day worth celebrating (and please, invite your friends who can’t cook to the party)!

If you’re trying to quit a bad habit and have made it one hundred days without doing that thing that you (don’t want to) do, embrace your newly-found strength (and pay attention to what makes you stronger)!

One hundred of just about anything can seem like a LOT (unless, of course, we’re talking money, in which case one hundred is a lot if you have nothing and not-so-much if you need a whole lot MORE).

When you have done something one hundred times, you’ve racked up a fair amount of practice, and repetition is one of the ways we learn best. Someone who is willing to repeat an action one hundred times is either dedicated or crazy (or, most likely, a bit of both), and this is where I come in…

Today’s PINK Tuesday post is the one hundredth blog posted here at Pink Shoes Ministries!

Looking back over the past eleven months (which have flown by like no other eleven months in my history), I am both grateful and a bit mystified. Grateful to our creative God for the variety of gifts He lavishes on His kids. Mystified as to what His purpose might be for these one hundred musings!

I try not to overthink things too much – maybe you can relate? Because when I do, these efforts become more about me and less about the One who moves me to action in the first place. And I’m serious about being moved to action!

Too often we are guilted into action, or roped into action (even in the church – I know you’ve been there). But when the God of the Universe moves you into action, something different happens than when our action is simply to fulfill some obligation or to get someone (or some ill-fitting expectation) off our back.

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the little wisdom book “The Four Agreements,” explains it like this:

“The best way to say, “I love you, God,” is to live your life doing your best. The best way to say, “Thank you, God,” is by letting go of the past and living in the present moment, right here and now.”

Paul says it like this, in Romans 12:1 (The Message):

“Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”

Sharing my heart here, with you, has been an exercise in giving my time, energy and passion BACK to the God who gave them to me in the first place. While it’s difficult (at best) to gauge the ‘fruit’ of an internet ministry, I trust that God will continue to use this effort in His Kingdom for the good of His people, for His redemptive purposes, and for the glory of His Name!

Ruiz notes that, “Doing your best really doesn’t feel like work because you enjoy whatever you are doing.” How many times can you honestly say that this is how you feel in a twenty four hour period? In a week? In one hundred days?

While I can’t say that I have loved every minute of the writing of these one hundred posts, I can say that it hasn’t felt like work.

My prayer for us, in the days and months ahead, is that we would seek to act in ways that GIVE us energy (rather than drain it), choosing to remain true to our God-given giftedness (saying ‘no’ to actions that don’t fire us up and which do not fit with who we are becoming as daughters of the King).

Thank you for being a part of what’s happening here, at Pink Shoes Ministries!

May you find, as I have, the one thing that (for you) is worth doing again and again; perhaps even one hundred times.

Excuse Me, Ma’am? Your GIFTS are SHOWING!

When I was in Jr. High, the really gifted kids went to SEEK. I’m not sure what it stands for – I guess I never did know – but it was clear that the SEEK kids were at least a notch above the rest of us, since they were allowed to escape Mr. Vega’s social studies class and go to the SEEK room during 5th hour instead.

I’ll admit that I wanted to be in SEEK. I wanted people to think of me as gifted. By default, I felt less important and more average by virtue of NOT being “chosen.” It didn’t keep me up at night, but it did keep me from exploring my own potential giftedness since no one else appeared to think I was anything but a normal kid.

 As adults, we find ourselves playing the same mind games as I did with SEEK in Jr. High. More often than we care to admit, we find ourselves comparing our lives, our jobs, our families and our abilities with those of others. And if you’re like me, you tend to come up with the short straw most of the time.

Paul teaches us in Galatians 6:3-5 to:

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

As followers of Jesus whose lives have been indwelt by the Spirit of God, WE ARE ALL GIFTED!

By virtue of the fact that we have been adopted by the Creator, we have been given gifts with which to reach the world around us with His incredibly lavish forgiveness and love. Chances are that YOUR GIFTS are showing, whether YOU know it or not!

Donna Partow, in her book Making Money from Home, has some very challenging questions that play right into Paul’s advice to the people of Galatia. Donna basically suggests that we make a careful exploration of who (we) are and the work (we’ve) been given so that we CAN sink oursel(ves) into that. If you’re wondering what YOUR pink shoes might be (that is, your unique giftedness – your oddness – for the Kingdom of God), this homework may very well assist you in determining what the creative best for your life might be…

  • What do you know about yourself from your school & work experiences?
  • If you won awards or preferred extracurricular activities while in school, what does that say about you?
  • What motivates you?
  • What do you enjoy doing with your free time?
  • What section of the bookstore or library do you gravitate toward?
  • What websites do you frequently visit?
  • If you could only talk about one topic all day, every day, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  • What excites you?
  • What energizes you?
  • What topic comes up in conversation that you can’t stop talking about?
  • What is unusual about you?
  • Consider the compliments you receive; what might these be saying about you?

You get the idea.

Spiritually speaking, there are tools out there to help you identify your Spiritual Gifts, and these can be very useful in illuminating potential God-given gifts for ministry. The feedback of others – especially of those who know you well – is an invaluable tool to discovering our giftedness as it affects the world around us. After all, the gifts we are given are not for ourselves, but for the benefit of those whose lives we touch. It stands to reason, then, that OTHERS would be likely to notice our gifts possibly even before we ever do, making comments along the lines of, “Excuse me, Ma’am? Your GIFTS are SHOWING!” something to pay close attention to.

In God’s family, we’re all in SEEK. We all have the opportunity to be pulled out of 5th period in order to explore our giftedness and those things that make us special and unique. So…

DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

DON’T BE TARDY!

The rest of us are waiting for you to come into your own and to put the truth of God on display as only you can!

 

For more information on Spiritual Gifts, try these websites:

Information on Spiritual Gifts:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_gift

Online Spiritual Gifts Assessment (includes a youth version!):

http://www.kodachrome.org/spiritgift/ 

Another Online Assessment:

http://www.churchgrowth.org/cgi-cg/gifts.cgi?intro=1