I’m reminded of the advice sometimes given for how to pray: Think of your conversation with God as you might think of a conversation with a friend. Hence, as I think about the gifts of God, I think about other gift-giving situations. As children, we get to be gift-receivers, first. We revel in the toys, the books, the box of animal crackers bestowed upon us by loving family and friends. With passing time, we learn to say “thank you” (and not, one hopes, amending, “I already have one of these.”) Add two or three years, we start to think of gifts we can give—a hand-drawn picture for mom, a game we can play with little brother. And nobody gives more earnest thought to gift-giving than an 8- or 9-year-old with just a little money and the desire to give pleasure to all the people she loves. Of course, for clueless grandparents, a gift card for a teenage grandson is always the perfect gift.
Later, we begin to think about the responsibilities entrusted to one who receives gifts. How would we want that teenager to use the gift card? Taking his pals out for pizza would be very gratifying to grandma. Is that, perhaps, how the Lord feels about the gifts He gives us? Does He want us to use the gifts He gives to benefit others—at least some of the time?
As a public-school counselor, I saw one of my jobs as helping young people to discern their gifts. Oh, we didn’t put it that way—“discernment” is not a word often heard in a middle school. (And it occurs to me, a digression here, that we probably make a mistake in calling some kids “gifted and talented”—aren’t they all, in some way?) Figuring out “what we want to be when we grow up” is a task that many of us pursue for most of our lives. Indeed, “self-actualization,” is a secular term that still has profound theological meaning, I think.
Isn’t that what the Lord expects from us? I believe He expects (demands?) that we figure out who we are, what we can do, what He has given to us to give back to the world. And let’s not have any false modesty here; we all know we have talents and skills; and we know that those skills are not just the result of meandering molecules. What can account for Mozart, if not a belief in an all-gracious God? But does that mean God loved Mozart more than He loves the rest of us? The heartfelt answer is certainly, “No.”
What, then, can we say to this? Our talents and gifts may not blaze a trail across the universe, but there are too many needs in our world and our diocese for us to shirk in our responsibility to use God’s gifts wisely. We are embarking on a new adventure in the DRG. At times we may feel relaxed and smug; at times we may feel like Max, sailing off to the land of the Wild Things. Whatever our level of confidence, whatever our fears or misgivings, we who are blessed to live in this abundant land must look inward, bringing our best resources to serve the needs of our Christian families, and truly, the needs of our entire universe.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Activities and Prayers
Jesus calls us to bear fruit in love.
- Discuss the points of interest to you, and your group.
- Look in a mirror and see God’s reflection. In your group, give each person a small note pad. Share the gifts you each bring to ministry in the Diocese of the Rio Grande.
- Light a candle in the center of your group. After the prayer, have each person light a wooden match from the candle to tie to the pad with the list of gifts. Use it throughout the week as a reminder of the importance of shared gifts and ministry.
Prayer: Give thanks for the work of ministry in the Diocese and for your place in it, or use this prayer:
Thank you, Living God, for the gifts you have given to each of us to bear fruit in ministry. We thank you for (here name each person and their gifts). May we each continue to grow in your service and to bear more and more fruit for ministry in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Amen.
- Share gifts you, or your group, bring to the work of the Diocese (you can do this as a confidential list by just listing the gifts without specific names, or by just using first names)--if you want to do so via comments on this website or the Women's Ministry Facebook page.