I once tried ice skating. It didn't go so well. I once tried the trumpet. No so good either. I have tried to grow watermelons in my garden. Vines look great but nothing remotely edible makes an appearance. After going to the pet store four times and replacing ten Africa Dwarf frogs (aquatic frogs for a fish tank), I gave up on the amphibians and bought a betta.
Sometimes we learn best by trial and error. Sometimes we realize an activity is just not a fit for us. This is not a failure, but a reality check. God has not made us all the same. There are activities that you excel in that I cannot comprehend. The uniqueness of every member of the Body of Christ is something to celebrate. One of the attributes of God is that He is creative.
When it comes to those unique and special gifts that come from the Holy Spirit, believers can come to understand their purpose in life. God would not give us a task to do in the church that is outside of our giftedness. So the question many Christians ask is: How do I know what my gift is?
This question comes most often from two types of believers. The first is the believer who has yet to plug into ministry. This is the pew warmer. He or she may not understand the gift he or she has, or he or she may have little interest in service. Maybe this believer is too busy with life "outside of the church" (it is theologically incorrect to think that there is any life "outside of the church," for we are the church). The second type of believer that asks me how to know his or her gift is one who is serving but is frustrated and unfulfilled. There is this unsettled feeling (a.k.a. the conviction of the Holy Spirit) that this is not the right area.
Those in my research (see my previous blogs on the Key to Ministry #1-3 for the research explanation) who have served faithfully, joyfully, and effectively in ministry have pointed to their spiritual gifts as their motivation and source for fruitfulness. They love what they do, from Sunday school teaching, deacon ministry, youth ministry, music, counseling, to serving the Lord's Supper, because they believe they discovered God's plan.
These participants also recognized that God confirmed their gift in the midst of the service. Most of them did not go into the ministry role with a strong confidence that this is where the Lord wanted them to serve long term. They saw a need and someone asked them to try it. They tried it and God blessed their effort. The Spirit confirmed their decision (and the will of God) by allowing these participants to see the results. Fifty-six percent stated that they were encouraged to stay in that ministry role because they saw the life-changing results in the lives of others. The key to ministry is to look for the area of ministry that God uses you to produce Kingdom-building results. The ministry area God has for you will edify the church. "...let us grow in every way into Him who is the head —Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part." (Ephesians 4:15-16, HCSB)
The pondering thought for today: Is it possible for churches to give members an avenue to "try" different ministry areas, to see if it fits? Do we have to require a long term commitment upfront? What is an encouraging way to do this? If your church has a way for members to "test the waters" in ministry, please leave a comment on how it is being done. I am terribly curious about this.