By Lisa Huddleston
“Do not neglect the gift that is in you … Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Be conscientious about yourself and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:14).
At a recent two-day training event for Christian coaches, I was asked a really tough question by another coach. It was during a practice session, and I was the person being coached. Since we are always asked to use a real topic to be coached around, I was telling him about my difficulty in choosing the best place to serve in my church. I talked for a while, and he asked a couple questions, but spent the majority of the time listening to what I had to share about myself, my strengths, my gifts, my passions, and so on. Finally, he looked at me and carefully asked, “Could it be that this is really a question of obedience for you?” In other words, I knew how God had gifted me, and I could see avenues through which I could use these abilities, but I was still hesitant to actually use them. Was I telling God no?
But I had great excuses for why I couldn’t serve. I’m an introvert, and I hate to be in front of people. I get really nervous teaching. I don’t have enough training or enough information to be “the expert.” And besides, no one had specifically asked me to serve, and there were other people already working in the same areas I would fit. I wasn’t really needed. The list was pretty long—that is until he asked that question.
Wow. Was it really so simple? Was I disobeying God by not using the gifts he had given? I felt the truth of his question as it pierced my heart and settled in with a thud. Yes. There was really no way around it. I’m not sure why it took me so long to see it. Why, as I told my fellow coach, was I waiting for lightening to strike to show me when and where to get to work? But in that moment, I knew it was true.
And, oddly enough, lightening did strike. Just before that practice session, I was invited to help with an upcoming leadership event and amazingly I didn’t say no or even that I needed to think about it. And then during supper at church that evening, I was approached about facilitating a small group study. Again, I knew that my answer was yes. Maybe that doesn’t seem miraculous to you, but it was a real shock to me. Just as clear and illuminating as actual lightening.
How am I feeling today? I have to admit to some “buyer’s remorse.” Do I have what it takes to do what I’ve been asked? What if I do a terrible job and embarrass myself in front of a group of strangers or, even worse, my friends? What if I’m never asked to do anything like this again? I guess that’s just a part of it. But I do know that in that moment of clarity when my coach asked me that question, I felt the truth of my situation, and I didn’t like what I saw. Obeying God is more important than saving face any day of the week.
So here goes. I’m taking the leap, and it really is a leap of faith. I’m going do what I can not to neglect the gifts that God has given me. I will be more conscientious about practicing these things and more committed to using them both for myself and for those who will hear or read the words God gives me to share. And when I fall, as I’m pretty sure I will from time to time, I’m trusting my Father to catch me and lift me right back up on my feet ready to serve again.
Do you know the gifts that God has given you to use? Are you doing what you can to keep that flame alive (2 Tim. 1:6)? If not, why not? Is it a question of obedience for you as it was for me? Let me encourage you. There’s no time like the present. Don’t you think it’s time to take the plunge?