Find your gifting
January 31, 2007
I frankly don't know if it's because I mirror my generation—I was born in 1942—or because I typify a personality type, but my first inclination was not to find another who had "done it before."
Don't get me wrong: I had my heroes. There were a few that if I could have been like them, I would have. Fact is, with one I tried real hard. And it was here I got it wrong.
I mixed up learning from another who was doing what I wanted to do with trying to do it the same way. Was I insecure about not doing it my way or did I misunderstand the role of modeling? I'm not sure. In the end, after an embarrassing failure, I began to look to the substance of his work and not his method of delivery.
His name? Jay Kessler.
At the time, Jay was VP of Ministry of Youth for Christ USA. It was the late 1960s. I was serving in YFC Canada. My life and sense of ministry had been nurtured in a revivalist world. The youth counter culture didn't make sense of the noise or language of that world: they had another dialect and operated at higher decibels.
If I have ever envied, it was then. Jay's skills in communication were what I wanted to emulate. He never let on he knew. But he gave me time: he traveled north from Wheaton to spend time with me and occasionally I traveled south to his place. He didn't teach me his way of speaking, he helped me learn to understand.
It was then the verse that frames these occasional notes became a beacon: to understand the times so as to know what to do.
What a gift. I learned to feel comfortable in my own sneakers, while always being stretched to see beyond the obvious to learn what was beneath. He taught me "backdoor" thinking. While everyone was charging through the front door on issues, he led me to discover other kinds of insights from another perspective.
And by watching and listening, I learned from him how to speak about matters of faith in language other than heavy religious chatter.
A gift beyond the price of tuition.
Faithful friend, Master pedagog, how tenderly you help us see that it is our gifts you wish us to exercise, not pressing us to excel in mimicry. Indeed we blossom as our gifting absorbs wisdom and counsel from others, and then mixed by the exuberance of your indwelling Spirit, we slowly emerge in doing what we do best. How gracious You are. Amen.
Once you've figured out what you want to do, find someone who has done it before... If they share your values and aspirations, and if they freely share their counsel, they can help you through rough patches and celebrate your victories as their own.