Episode 1. What I Am and What I Ain't
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Deep down, we know that each one of us is different. But sometimes, it’s a bit of a challenge to figure out where we fit in – who we are and who we aren’t. But this is such an important thing …
Deep down, we know that each one of us is different. But sometimes, it’s a bit of a challenge to figure out where we fit in – who we are and who we aren’t. But this is such an important thing to get a handle on.
What I am and I have a confession to make, I’m now 49 years old and it took me probably the first 42 or 43 years of my life to figure out what my gig was. What do I mean by that? Well I believe that each of us have a specific talent or aptitude or gift or motivation or call it what you like, that God has handcrafted into our DNA and that gift, that’s what I’m going to call it, is the thing that fits us to the particular life that He’s prepared for us to live. The two fit like a hand in a glove.
Think of it, if you want to nail two pieces of wood together you use a hammer, not a shovel. If it’s a hole that you’re wanting to dig, well you’ll be grabbing the shovel and not the hammer, makes sense. Well if God is who He says He is and He loves us the way He says He loves us, then it stands to reason that He’s deliberately made each one of us uniquely different to fit the plan He has for each of our lives. The problem is most people like me spend half if not all of their lives not really knowing who God made them to be and what He made them to do.
Why is that? Well I think we live in a world that tells us ‘You can be anything you want to be, you can do anything you want to do. It’s all out there for the taking, all you have to do is set your mind to it and you can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do’. Sounds pretty good huh? Sounds like the sort of thing that you or I would love to swallow hook, line and sinker and I guess, in the affluent parts of this world where everything seems to be laid on, every opportunity and possibility, well why not? But feed that notion to a young teenager sitting in a refugee camp in Somalia and see how easy they find this stuff to swallow and then when you scratch around in that the more you realise it’s a load of rubbish.
You see I have no doubt that people are capable of doing the most incredible things and overcoming adversity and all sorts of stuff but Berni here is 174cm or 5 foot 9 inches tall. ‘I want to be a world-famous basketball player’. Hmph, that’s going to fly. Berni has short dumpy little legs, ‘I want to be a world-class sprinter’, yeah right! Berni can’t sing for nuts, well sort of okay but not really, ‘I want to be a world famous singer’, gotta tell ya none of those things is going to happen, why? Because plainly, Berni is not cut out to do those things.
Now it’s true physically but it’s also true emotionally and spiritually, we all have different personalities and motivations and there’s a reason for that. God is the God of the most amazing diversity. My favourite of all the statistics is this; the number of different species of beetles that God created is not 5, 10, 100, 5,000 or 10,000, God created 360,000 different species of beetles and I look around at my friends and family and they’re just as different. Okay, there’s some common threads but, but we’re also incredibly diversely different aren’t we?
I want to read you one of the best explanations of this that I ever read. It was written 2,000 years ago by a chap called Paul in a letter to a Church in Rome. Have a listen; it comes from the Bible, Romans chapter 12, verse 3. He says:
By the grace given to me I tell each one of you, don’t think of yourselves more highly than you should but instead look at yourself with sober judgement in accordance with the measure of faith that God’s given you. Just as each body has many members and those members don’t all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others.
We have different gifts according to the grace given to us. If a persons gift is prophesying, well let him use it in proportion to their faith; maybe it’s serving, let him serve; if it’s teaching, let him teach; if it’s encouraging, encourage people; if it’s contributing to the needs of others then give generously; if it’s leadership, govern diligently; if it’s showing mercy, do it cheerfully.
It’s great isn’t it? There’s kind of three bits to what Paul is saying here. The first is how we think about ourselves then he uses that beautiful analogy of the body, then he lists the seven different giftings. Now I’m no psychologist but those who are tell me that that list of seven corresponds remarkably to the different personality types that the experts talk about today.
Now we’re going to look at the second and third of those, that analogy of the body and the different giftings over the coming weeks. Today, I just want to concentrate on the first thing that Paul says; how we see ourselves. Listen again to what Paul has to say:
By the grace given to me I say to each one of you, don’t think of yourselves more highly than you should but instead look at yourself with sober judgement in accordance with the measure of faith that God’s given to you.
How easy is it to think of ourselves more highly than we should? I’m an expert in that, I used to see myself as God’s gift to the universe, gifted at everything. The problem is no one is gifted at everything and I had to learn that the hard way. There are some things that I am just not good at. There are some things that I am good at and a whole bunch that I’m not. Out of that list of seven different giftings there are two that I really relate to. That means there are five on that list that just aren’t me.
These seven giftings are often called “motivational giftings”, lets just quickly go through them again:
The gift of prophecy.
The gift of serving.
The gift of teaching.
The gift of encouraging.
The gift of giving.
The gift of leadership.
The gift of mercy.
Yeah, they’re called “motivational giftings” because they’re gifts; I like to think of them as gifts of the heart. There are certain things that flick my switch, there are certain things that really motivate me and others don’t and probably those others are the ones that motivate you. We need to be realistic about that Paul says, some people are academic, others aren’t; some people are gifted musicians, others are gifted sportsmen or women.
The problem is, if we’re unrealistic, if we set our hearts on something that really, truly deep down we can’t do, we’re not motivated to do, well we’re going to labour very hard, very very hard and it will all be in vain. See I used to work really hard at things that I didn’t enjoy and all of a sudden I discovered one day, that’s because it’s just not me to do those things. Now what a dumb thing to spend your life doing, sitting at a job that you’re just not cut out to do. No, Paul says look:
Think of yourselves with sober judgement.
You know what that means? Accept who it is that God has made us to be. More than that enjoy it, revel in it. You know something, once I got a grip on my expectations what I discovered is this, I really like who I am. In fact I love the things that I am and the things that I’m not. It’s such liberation finally to love who God made me to be. So many people spend their time wishing they were someone else, well guess what? You’re never going to be. It was His choice to make me who I am; to make you who you are. It’s time to fall in love with that.