I haven’t blogged for quite a while. It’s not that I’ve grown bored with blogging, nor have I just gotten lazy. No, God has been birthing something new in my heart and mind. The problem has been that I wasn’t in the mood for God to mess with that which has become so familiar to me.
Recently I was scheduled to teach about gifts and service, but found myself struggling with what to say. Now, this has been my favorite subject for close to twenty years, so to teach on it has become second nature to me. This time, however, I realized that I couldn’t speak with the same conviction that I’ve had in the past. That was a bright red signal flag that it’s high time I slow down and open my eyes to this “new thing” the Lord has been trying to reveal.
For years now I have taught, preached, and at times insisted on the practice of gifts discovery in ministry placement. It became part of my DNA after a few years of volunteer fiascoes, like being asked to teach about Paul’s missionary journeys for Vacation Bible School when I had no idea who Saul was, and having my gift of hospitality understood as preparing meals for the newcomers luncheon though I don’t like being stuck in the kitchen. Then there was the assignment to lead the outreach ministry team when my real passion was to work inside the walls of the church… All these experiences (as well a similar stories shared with me by others along the way) convinced me that plugging warm bodies into empty ministry slots was not going to produce fruitful service or create meaningful ministry.
When I first heard about spiritual gifts, I was intrigued. But learning the S.H.A.P.E.* model was what inspired me. At last, a way to match people to ministry that would bless them and those whom they served. No more klutzes in the kitchen and no more grumpy greeters! The S.H.A.P.E. model has served me well for years. But a few weeks ago I was engaged in a discussion about equipping, talking about matching gifts to ministry. My colleague suggested that I was still plugging people into slots. Perhaps gifts discovery is a more thoughtful way to go about it, he said, but it is still slot-filling. Ouch!
That conversation–along with the realization that I am suddenly lacking some conviction in my teaching material–has been the catalyst for me to engage in my own re-discovery process.
I’m excited to take equipping to a new level (in my ministry, at least–you may already be there, in which case I wish you had mentioned this to me before now!) Before I go any further, I want to take you back to my colleague’s suggestion that we are still just plugging people into ministry. More effectively, perhaps, but plugging away nonetheless. Will you sit with that awhile and see what the Spirit says to you? (And I hope you will leave your comments about what you discern!)
I’ll be back in a couple of days to share with you the new most important word in my equipping vocabulary…