But the idea of a monthly subscription to this website just made me sad. It made me think of the many pastors out there who feel obligated to use this website, finding themselves called to ministry and yet not gifted in teaching and preaching. It has to be a scary place to be. And I can’t imagine that it feels very good to head to a sermon resource website each week when you’re probably thinking to yourself, Why am I not able to do this on my own!
So what causes this situation, that we have people called to ministry doing things that they don’t feel equipped for? Have we forced our pastors - and ourselves - into doing things that they’ve never been equipped for (either by natural talent, education, or the gifting of the Holy Spirit) because the rest of us, as the church, are not living out the things that we are equipped for.
I think many of us, way too early on in our lives, get pigeon-holed into a certain role or position we believe we must play. Much of our education system is based on the premise that you must pick one thing to major in and then do that one thing as a career the rest of your life. Can that really be healthy? Should our complex personalities, talents, and gifts we whittled down to a word or two?
Sometimes we get pigeon-holed into things we’re not even good at (like the person called to pastoral counseling, but finds themselves having to preach - and hit up sermon resource websites - 52 times a year). Sometimes we are pigeon-holed into something we are good at (like playing piano) and use it as our safe-place, never venturing to discover whether or not we’re good at anything else.
Is it possible that we have churches filled with folks who are simply unaware of their own giftedness? Many times it’s easy to get frustrated because of a lack of volunteers in a particular ministry. But do we simply live in a culture that constantly affirms this lie that you’re good only at what you’re most familiar with?
Now, don’t get me wrong. We can’t be faux-idealists and sit around only doing what we feel “called” to do. As a good friend of mine has said, “Do something you’re not passionate about.” And he’s right. Too many of us are waiting around for the “perfect” opportunity to get involved in something, but - gee whiz - that perfect opportunity just never seems to find us. So, on the one hand, I want to affirm that it’s okay to be involved not only in things you’re good at, but also in things that are just simply good. You may be uncomfortable changing a baby’s diaper, but sometimes they just need to be changed. Everytime you hear an opportunity to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or help the poor, you can’t just claim, “I just didn’t feel ‘led.’” In the words of James, “If you know the good you ought to do, and do not do it, to you it is sin” (James 4:17).
But, on the other hand, what would happen in our churches - in our lives - if all of us began to seek out the rest of our giftedness? Could the woman who really doesn’t like children (God forbid) be allowed to leave the nursery and start some coffeehouse evangelism? Or the man who really doesn’t like handywork be allowed to pursue photography?
Most recently, I have been struggling under the weight of feeling unequipped to plant a new congregation. I’m fairly introverted, I’ve only led one person to Christ (and that was because I told him I would let him be my friend if he became a Christian. It was sixth grade), and I’m pretty comfortable doing the whole lead worshiper thing.
And then our denomination had me take a personality/giftedness test based on the “five offices” of Ephesians 4 (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher). Go figure, it came back saying I was an apostolic evangelist (apostle meaning “sent out”).
Perhaps there’s more to me than I’ve ever considered.
Perhaps there’s more to you than you’ve ever considered.
And maybe - just maybe - if we began to live out all of our calling, we would stop forcing people to do things they were really never meant to do.