Excitement began building as I put the finishing touches on my notes. That night I would speak at a writer’s dinner and I couldn’t wait. The last time I had spoken a few months ago, I left thinking, this is what I love to do. Even more than writing (which is saying a lot).
A memory came to mind I hadn’t thought of in a while. I was a freshman in college taking a required public speaking class. I came from a small high school with no real speech training. I did end up making the finals at the state FBLA convention in public speaking, but that was my only experience.
My public speaking class was fun. I enjoyed writing speeches in all the categories – persuasive, informative, and narrative. I never quite understood why many of my classmates got so nervous. I loved it.
My public speaking professor was the head of the speech department, and he led the school’s program where students competed against other schools in the areas of speech and debate. Our school was quite renowned in this area, I found out later, and my professor was well-respected in his field.
Toward the end of the semester, he came up to me and asked me to consider joining the speech and debate team. I was shocked, yet incredibly honored. As mentioned already, I had had no real training, and for him to have seen something in me was incredibly humbling. I was so flattered I quickly said yes.
However, I ended up backing out of the commitment, which was unlike me. My priorities at the time – as a young 18 year-old barely out of my parents’ house – was my boyfriend (now husband) and the Baptist Student Union. I just didn’t want to commit to all the training and time needed to work at public speaking in competition. (Plus, in my experience, competing in it seemed to take the fun out of it. When I spoke, I wanted to make a difference, not make an impression.)
Now, 17 years later, I began reflecting on that time. I don’t have any regrets, although I do wonder what may have changed in my life had I pursued that opportunity. But mostly I reflected back on how this professor called out this gift in me before I ever had a clue that was what he did.
It was an affirmation of sorts. I know any gift or gifts I may have, have been give me by the Holy Spirit for the sole purpose of glorifying God and building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). When a Christian is given a gift, as the Scripture says we are, it is never about us.
But I wonder how many of us who have a few years of life experience under our belts have gifts that have sat unused. Perhaps they are gifts we were given and we never recognized them as such. Or our lives may have taken a different direction. Or maybe we’ve been raising little people so long we have forgotten about them. (This, of course, is assuming that your gift, like mine, isn’t rooted in child-rearing. If your gift is in child-rearing, you’re using your gift to its fullest while raising your little people! I am in awe of you!)
Even if it hasn’t been used to its fullest for whatever reason, your gift is still there.
And it’s waiting to be used.
I hear a common drumbeat among women, especially women who are emerging from those mind-fogging raising-little-people years. They are ready to be used in a new way. But they’re not sure how.
Is that you? Do you long to glorify God, build up His church, meet needs, and reach people for Christ, but you don’t know where to start?
What I love is God gives us good gifts, and while the purpose is not about us, it’s enjoyable for us!
Something came to life in me when I spoke at that writer’s meeting. I felt an indescribable feeling of “this is what I was made to do.” One of the women asked me later, “Do you speak at churches?” And I had to contain my emotion when I replied something to the effect of, “Yes, please!”
I think if we look at our lives, we can see fingerprints of God’s gifting. They may be slight and not so obvious. They may have come in the form of someone seeing something in us that we never saw in ourselves. We might identify our gifts by thinking back and asking, “when were the moments where we were doing something we truly came alive?”
If you’re looking for where God has gifted you, start in prayer. Ask him to reveal memories you have forgotten. Ask him to show you patterns – or threads as Jennie Allen explains so well in her book Restless.
Another thing you can do is just start serving somewhere. Within our giving of ourselves to service, many times we find that gift come alive within us while doing specific things.
Anytime we begin self-analyzing, though, we must be careful, lest we think our gifts and our passions are about us. Because it’s not. It’s all about Him, glorifying God and letting Him use us to advance His kingdom.
You, follower of Christ, were chosen before the foundation of the world to do good works for His kingdom (Ephesians 1:4, 2:10).
To do good.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10
Do you know how God has gifted you? What do you do that makes you come alive?