What makes you special?
That sort of seems like an elementary school question, doesn’t it? Like back when you were 9 and a teacher asked you to introduce yourself to the class and talk about yourself. I remember feeling awkward and shy (it’s hard to believe now, that I was ever shy though right?). It feels uncomfortable to talk about yourself in a positive way. It feels like bragging. It feels selfish and pious.
But what if it comes from a place of grace and humility?
1 Peter 4:11 tells us something important that we need to give thought and consideration to. “God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”
Talking about what makes you special can seem selfish and pious WHEN it is meant for your own purposes only. But here in scripture, we are reminded that the qualities about you and I that are special and unique, come to us from God. They are a gift.
I have received some really great birthday and Christmas gifts in my life. Some of them have brought me a lot of pleasure and happiness! When I have gotten a gift like that, I am often giddy with excitement! I tell everyone about the wonderful gift I have been given! “Look at this! I can’t wait to use it!”
But a gift is just that, a gift. I did not create or fashion this gift. I was only the fortunate recipient of it. Our spiritual gifts are like that too. They are nothing we did ourselves, they have been given to us by God. They are a true gift.
If you’re not sure what your spiritual gift is. I encourage you to find out. Years ago, I took a “a spiritual gifts test” and it shifted the course of my life. I came to understand that the things about me that came easily and that I did out of a sense of passion, are the same (or similar) things that the Lord had gifted me with.
When you and I come to understand that the passions and talents we have, are actually part of a bigger purpose, we find freedom there!
Now I can get excited about the things that I am good at; now I can be confident in my abilities because I know they came from God. They are surely a gift! So, when I am excited about them, and feeling good about using them, I am not bragging about myself, but rather I am opening the gift that He gave me!
The second part of verse 10 reminds us WHY we have been given these gifts. “Use them well to serve one another.”
The most wonderful parts of us, are not given so that we can feel more important than others, make money, be idolized, or get lots of “followers” on social media. They are given to be of service to each other. They are gifts to be shared, not used solely for our own glorification.
We should also realize that our natural human tendency is to look around at other’s gifts, and feel like their gifts are better, or more important than our own. We can very easily play the comparison game.
This is a danger especially for women. God has blessed and entrusted us with talents, influence, and spiritual gifts to glorify Him and to bring about His kingdom. But we have all been guilty of looking around our workplace, neighborhoods or churches and feeling like what we have is less important than what others have. This line of thought could lead to jealousy and envy.
There are so many wonderful and inspiring women all around! We are naturally drawn to people who possess character qualities that we do not have. When we are at work or church, and we see women that we admire, it is usually because their gift is different than ours. The reason that we admire them is because there is something wonderful about them, that we don’t necessarily see in ourselves.
While it is true that we can learn so much from people that are different than we are, we also need to remember not to play the comparison game. The one where we assume that others are happier or more fulfilled than we are, because they are good at something that we are not. Your gift is not her gift, my gift is not your gift. Joy comes when we first know that our gift is from God and we use it for His glory. Then we can develop and use it purposefully to serve others!
Over the years I have found great joy and purpose in realizing my own gift! It has brought intention to my life, whereas before, I only saw my short comings. I saw other women seeming so fulfilled, and I incorrectly guessed that if I did what they did, exactly the way they did it, that I would be happy like they seemed to be.
But the truth is, I can only be fulfilled when I am working within the abilities and purposes (or gifts) that God gave to ME.
Don’t waste your gift by comparing it to other’s. Find out what your specific gift is and pursue that with all your heart! There you will find joy and completeness, because then you will be utilizing your natural strengths and God given abilities!
Try it, you’ll see!