Why doing the next thing trumps spiritual gifts
I knew it was going to happen before it was happening…
An empty room. Bright lights. A rack filled with folding chairs. That’s it.
You see, that’s not what we call situation normal. I attend a local church plant that meets in a school. Week after week, we do A LOT of work to make it look less like a school and more like a church (kind of). But after a while, it becomes the same few people doing the work. And before we know it, we’ve lost our sense that church is about the people of God. Not bells and whistles. Not buildings and rows of chairs.
So we took it down to the studs. We had a music stand and a pastor. Everyone grabbed their own chair. And we called for a commitment (when I say we, I mean the pastor) for everyone to be ALL IN.
That’s where this story begins…
Why spiritual gifts are important
You may be assuming some things from the title of this blog post. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all in on spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit gave us gifts to use to build up the body. Everyone has at least one and we’re all called to use them.
Somewhere along the way, we started waiting instead of jumping in. We were asked to serve because there was a need and we knew it didn’t use our spiritual gifts. So we said no. And that children’s class or that set up crew went one short because we were all waiting to use our gifts.
Over the years of ministry, I had been a part of that. I hosted classes. It was the first thing I asked when people wanted to serve. And I gave people permission to pursue their gifts (which they should).
What I’ve learned about doing the next thing
The reality is that our calling from God includes both using our gifts and doing the next right thing. As I reflect back on my time in church ministry and even running my own life coaching business, I’ve learned a thing or two. One of my biggest learnings, however, taught me that God’s greatest calling includes some things that don’t use our spiritual gifts.
For each of these roles, I got the opportunity to exercise gifts of writing, leadership, and teaching. But I also was called upon to be administrative (anyone who has seen my office or my checkbook has an idea that this is not my gift) and hospitable, or a host of other things required.
On the flip side, there are everyday moments that God wants to use you and I. Moments with our neighbors. Moments of inviting someone in for a cup of coffee. Or stepping up to serve to make the load lighter. These moments often have nothing to do with our spiritual gifts and everything to do with listening for God’s spirit to lead and guide us.
Our greatest ministry is with those who are sitting across our tables or our living rooms or the office break rooms from us. And those closest to us don’t often need our spiritual gifts as much as they need our presence.
Do the next thing keeping your spiritual gifts in mind
The reality is that God is always at work and calling us to do the next thing. We also have spiritual gifts and sometimes the two coincide. Our job is to be obedient and faithful whether the next thing uses our gifts or not. So what’s a girl to do?
Do the next thing right in front of you
I’ve had seasons where I’ve waited - longing to use my gifts more. And I’ve had seasons where I’ve just jumped in. At my current church, I wear a lot of hats and very few of them involve my spiritual gifts. I do administrative stuff for the pastor (see above for why this is not my gift), I help tear down our connect desk, I fold up flags, I sometimes coordinate church lunches and things like that, and sometimes I teach. Only one of those is a clear expression of my gifts, but all of them need to be done.
True confession. I don’t always like doing all of those things. I would gladly step aside if someone more administrative wants to take some of that over. Our call is to be faithful and obedient in the little things and step through the doors God opens.
Serving is not about us, it’s all about Jesus
Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes when we serve, we want it appreciated and noticed. We can make it about us, and not about Jesus.
Those things I listed above. Every once in a while, I’m not feeling it on a Sunday morning. I’d rather sleep in (actually I typically take the late shift on clean up so I do sleep in) or go home early.
And that’s when I remind myself. I’m not there to serve other people. I’m there to serve Jesus. I do what I do. I choose to be faithful. I choose to serve with the next thing because of Jesus and with my church family - we are the people of God together.
We serve with our all
I’m a big fan of the idea that we can find purpose and meaningful impact in the everyday rhythms of our lives. Which means that on all days - there’s a next thing for us to do. From neighbors to our family members, if we pay attention, God will lead us to the next thing He’s asking us to do.
If I’m honest with you, I want to be found faithful in the everyday moments as I age. Faithful to do a good job at work. Faithful to connect with my neighbors. Faithful to be part of a growing church family. And while I enjoy using my gifts for God’s kingdom, I do it only when He opens the door for me to do it. The rest of the time is spent learning to live and love like Jesus as I do the next right thing. In front of me. Where I’m needed.
You may be wondering what happened at our stripped down version of church that Sunday. We all said yes. Yes to living on mission together. Yes to being God’s family together. Yes to being faithful and committing to each other that we’re in this together. Almost every need was filled.
Here at One Foot, we just finished our study of the book of Ephesians. Smack dab in the middle of the book, Paul reminds us that together, we as God’s family, reflect the wisdom of God to a watching world. We reflect His wisdom when we choose yes even when it’s not our spiritual gift. We reflect His wisdom when we listen for Him daily and choose obedience for his Kingdom.
Hey friends! I’d love to hear from you. Where is God asking you to do the next right thing and where is He calling you to use your gifts? I’d love to pray for your service in the everyday rhythms of your life.