Simply Opening Your Gift is Not Enough

Brad and I graduated university on Wednesday; got married on Sunday; honeymooned; and then moved from New York to California, where Brad started working as a petroleum engineer.  I worked as a temporary secretary.

We found a church we loved, and before long I volunteered to serve as the sixth-grade boys’ Sunday school teacher.  I had experience teaching first grade Sunday school at my home church, teaching girls at summer camp, and leading Bible study for my peers at university.  I had never struggled to get people to sit still or pay attention.  And everyone had always called me, Sharon.

And then came my first Sunday teaching sixth grade boys.  Despite my careful preparations and enthusiasm, chaos reigned.  At the end of the hour, I was exhausted, and convinced that I needed new methods.  I asked God for wisdom.  Then I realized although I was required to follow the assigned curriculum, such a wiggly, chatty group needed action and interaction.  So I designed games, scripted plays, and invested in candy the boys could earn by demonstrating their learning.  (I no longer use or recommend the third method.)

I began the second Sunday school class by introducing myself as Mrs. Kerr.  I had been called that name only a few times, and I typically responded by looking around to see who Mrs. Kerr might be, expecting her to be older and wiser than I.

As I taught my sixth-grade boys interactively, they became cooperative, glad-hearted, although still wiggly, students of God’s Word.  And I began to become Mrs. Kerr, a teacher who learned her methods by trial and error, reflection and revision, observation and experimentation.  To this day, Mrs. Kerr is my teaching name.

My most recent group of cooperative, glad-hearted students

A new name is a gift, a new identity, though it may initially be a few sizes too big.  A man named John had a vision where Jesus promised the gift of a new name as a reward to people in the church at Pergamon who listened, and who overcame.

I think growing into any new name, into any new identity, takes teachability, followed by overcoming action.

Application:  Dear friend, God gives us gifts so we can give to others.  This is not always easy, but when we work and serve in our areas of giftedness, God seems to multiply our efforts.  He gives us success, creativity and joy, out of proportion to our efforts.

Reflection:  Are you using your best gifts?  If you are, how can you learn and practice to increase your effectiveness?  If you are not, how can you transition to a place and a role where you can use your best gifts?

Recommended Reading:

Spiritual Gifts Survey 

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller

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