What are your grace gifts?
More importantly, how does you gift help other Christ followers use their gifts?
Grace gifts are skills or talents God gives you to reflect His grace to the world and to encourage and upbuild His group of believers called the Church. It took a woman in an old country church to teach me how connected our gifts are to each other.
My husband’s first ministry was a weekend ministry in Northern Kentucky to a handful of thirty people in a white clapboard church complete with an old-fashioned steeple and a rough and tumble basement one property line down from a tobacco farm. “Don’t ever preach against smoking, Preacher,” he was once told. “That’s our bread and butter down here.”
We had a pianist, Gracie was her name, but no song leader. After several weeks of preaching, leading songs, and teaching Sunday School, Jack ended up perpetually hoarse. So I offered to lead the singing. This was no problem. It gave me something to do and it helped him. The old tobacco farmers squirmed at first at having a woman behind the pulpit but necessity won them over. It was fine—until our first child was born.
I was torn. Being a first time preacher’s wife, I was worried about pleasing everyone. They wouldn’t be happy with me if I didn’t lead songs. They wouldn’t be happy with me if I wasn’t taking care of my baby. No-win. As often is the case when we think we have to please other people, I underestimated our church members.
Several weeks after Katherine’s birth, I was scurrying around, doing my preacher wife thing. Katherine ended up in the arms of Caroline, a widow lady in her sixties or seventies, a lady who never had much to say but was always there. Caroline intimidated me because I never knew what she was thinking. I hustled over, wondering how Katherine had ended up with Caroline. What a bad mother I was. Was Katherine all right? Did I need to change her diaper? Oh no! It was almost time for church to begin.
“I’m sorry, Caroline.” I looked toward the front of the church. “I really should be taking care of my baby instead of leading songs, shouldn’t I?” What to do. What to do.
Caroline didn’t move and neither did Katherine. “Listen Karen.” Caroline spoke so seldom, I was all ears. “I can’t lead songs. But I can hold babies. You get up there and do your job.”
Every week for the next year, Caroline held my baby and I led songs with peace and freedom in my heart because I knew my baby was being well care for. When it was time to leave for our first full time ministry in the mountains of Colorado, I left that ole’ Kentucky church with a new appreciation for Paul’s imagery of the church as a body. When we serve God, we don’t do our work independently. We’re all connected. What I do supports what you do. What you do supports me. We each use the unique skills God gives us through his grace to work together to expand His Kingdom.
So, the next time you catch yourself wanting to turn down a volunteer job in God’s kingdom work because you have a case of the “I can’ts,” ask yourself what you can do to support and make life easier for someone who can. Someone whom God has gifted but feels torn and burdened with the other responsibilities of life. What can you do so they can do what they do? What are your grace gifts?
I’d love to hear what you discover. I’d love to hear how you see other Christ-followers supporting their fellow believers, giving them a hand and foot up to accomplish the ministry God has called them to. Share your stories and observations in the Comments below.