Getting your gifts into gear

I’m a bit of what used to be called a “shade tree mechanic.”  In clearer terms, that means I’m not a professional auto mechanic.  I don’t have lots of professional tools and I don’t have a proper shop in which to do my mechanic work.  No, I’m not a NASCAR fan, but I can often be found underneath my vehicles.

There is a limit to my expertise, of course.  The big jobs I have to hand off to someone who has more than a gravel driveway to work from.  Earlier this year I had to replace the clutch on my Ford Bronco project.  That requires “dropping the transmission” (i.e. removing it from the engine).  So I farmed that job out to my friend, Bunkie.

The clutch plays a very vital role.  It is what makes it possible for the power produced by the combustion engine to actually get transferred through the transmission to the wheels of your vehicle.  Without a working clutch, you could never get your vehicle into gear (or into a new gear).  I realize some of you don’t know how to drive a standard shift car.  Though your automatic transmission does not have a clutch petal, it still invisibly incorporates the principles of a clutch, “automatically”.  Okay, for those who are still reading at this point, I  actually do have something spiritual to say!

If you are a Spirit-born Christ-follower, you have been endowed with one or more supernatural spiritual gifts.  These are gifts for ministry to other people.  These are tools for serving Christ’s purposes on earth.

Unfortunately, a very large percentage of Christ-followers have yet to deeply engage their gifts in practical and useful ways.  They are like a car with a good engine, but which for some reason does not get the wheels to move! It usually takes time to discover the unique ways God has gifted us to serve others.  And it usually begins in general ways and over time develops into more specific roles.

You probably have not heard the story of how I first began to realize God’s call on my life for ministry.  No, it wasn’t an audible voice! It wasn’t a dream in the night.  It wasn’t the result of going into the wilderness for many days to seek God! And it certainly wasn’t the result of intentional training I had done in preparation.

Actually, it happened while I was out-of-town one weekend. The folks in the small church where I was a member (I had been attending under a year at this point), decided that I would make a good Sunday School Superintendent.  During the quarterly Sunday night business meeting I was nominated for the job and duly elected by those present! (Isn’t amazing how church people can come into agreement regarding what other people ought to do?!!)   Those sneaky Baptists! 

Later that week when a deacon called me to let me know about my “new role” I was very disturbed. My first (unspoken) reaction was: “How can you guys just elect me to a position like this, without even consulting me?” (I’m still not sure how this gets done…so often!)  My second (spoken) reaction was, “I’m not qualified.” The deacon said, “Don’t worry; we’ll help you catch on.  And God will help you.  You’ll be great at it.” I told the deacon that I’d “pray about it”, but that I really didn’t feel comfortable about the decision

So I actually did pray about it.  And I also sought counsel from a mature Christian.  This was such an amazing and unsettling time of discovery for me.  I didn’t know it, but the “clutch” was starting to work.  I was about to “catch a new gear.”

More next time.

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