Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gift Envy....

Do you know what your "spiritual gift" is? Teaching, preaching, healing, encouragement, knowledge, discernment, administrative...Churches have a long list of these, and there is a whole slew of studies, questionnaires and the like to help you discover your gift, and how to put it to use. I've taken the questionnaire twice now. The top gift was the same both times. Some days I really like my gift, and some days I want to ask God is He sure that I'm supposed to have that one...

I have gift envy. I wish I was more organized. I want to be administratively gifted. I want to be able to hold an event that people respond to, attend, and enjoy. I wish I could plan a successful party. I want to be able to just start AND finish a project. I used to think I was good at this type of stuff. I used to think I was gifted at service. Truth be told, I scored high on service the first time I took the test. It was the second highest gift. I loved that. I liked being behind the scenes, setting up the food for potlucks, and cleaning up after. I was Ms. Dependable. "They" always knew they could count on me. Here's the truth and it isn't pretty: I thought it was the only way to get people to like me. Doing things for others was the only way to get them to like me. There, now you know. I was full of massive insecurity. And then I got divorced.

When my ex and I separated, I began shedding a lot of weight. The excess weight was a result of years of emotional stress eating. As the weight came off, the emotions buried under layers and layers of fat rose to the surface. I was in a season of aloneness (thank you, God!). I spent a lot of that time dealing prayfully with the issues that put the weight on in the first place. Now, as my new body emerges, so is the spirit I had buried there. Now I realize that I actually like attention. I feel no hesitation in getting up in front of people and talking. I am a social, extroverted person, and I won't be hiding in the kitchen anymore. (So that's more gift envy, actually: when others get asked to deliver talks, I hear little whispers in my ear...why not come you weren't asked to speak? All I can say is: go away Satan, I need to HEAR what God is saying through that person to me!)

The second time I took the test, service did not even make the top three gifts. My gifts are encouragement, faith, and evangelism. I don't always like the encouragement part because it often attracts people to me who are horribly hurt and in a great deal of pain. I am empathetic, and often have the best of intentions for following up with them. But that's the downside of my gift. I spread myself thin, and forget to follow up with people. Since I'm not administratively gifted, follow-up doesn't come naturally to me. Hence the gift envy. There are times when my gift makes me feel downright lazy. I see others accomplishing things, and all I'm doing is standing there talking. (Never mind that the person in front of me is pouring out their hurt and pain...) God is good, because He sends the encourager encouragement too. Today I was paid a very high complement by the leader of my South African missions team. Let's just say, I've felt like I've been in the background for a lot of things involving this trip, and that I wasn't pulling my weight. After what she said to me, I no longer feel that way. I've decided to look at it differently: I'm allowing others to exercise THEIR gift. This one can arrange for us all to have t-shirts, that one is booking the flights and organizing teams to do various tasks when we get there, the third is pulling together fund-raising plans...the list goes on. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing: pitching in where ever I can, and encouraging them when the going gets tough. The envy is gone.

Take THAT satan!

Galations 6:9
Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap a great harvest if we do not faint.



  1. I know exactly how you felt. I too took on a lot of duties at church just to feel better about myself. I was putting a lot of work into the church in hopes of being labeled a great Christian. Unfortunately for me it added a great deal of stress to my life, ultimately leading to me leaving church and Christianity behind. From my personal experience I realized that there is no self-less act. Everything I did...was for me.
    I feel now that even the most righteous act boils down to a person's own need to boost their religious-ego or raise their status among co-worshipers. I, of course, could be totally wrong but that is what I currently believe.

  2. While I respect what you are saying, I am going to address just a couple of things here:
    1. "From my personal experience I realized that there is no self-less act." This statement reminds me of a "Friends" episode where Phoebe gives her money to PBS because she hates them, but it wound up helping Joey, so she felt good about herself anyway...The things we do for the Church and for each other should come from a heart full of love and gratitude towards Christ. Otherwise, we're working someone else's field and getting no benefit from it. The result is a burnt-out, stressed out Christians.

    2. The current belief that the most righteous act boils down to a person's own need to boost their religious-ego is basically judging another human's heart and intentions, which Jesus warns us not to do. There may be a good many people in serving positions in churches around the world who are doing what they do for the wrong reasons. But then, the church is full of flawed people -- including me and you. It would be very easy to say that they are hypocritical and walk away, but doing so is also acting as a hypocrite. You say that you are turning your back on Christianity -- well, religiosity never got anyone into heaven: a relationship with Christ does. My question to you is, do you have a relationship with the one and only living God? Everything that I currently do for the Church, I do for His glory, to further His kingdom, and it is an act of love and worship of the Most High God.

  3. Wow. There is really so much that can be said about the interesting way this blog entry is morphing.

    I've got to agree with Gillian in regard to her response to "unfaithful". Whenever someone is leading a works-based 'christianity' they are going to get stressed-out and end up wanting to run away from it all. That type of religious endeavor is what the Bible speaks AGAINST, however; so, the end-result was typical of someone who did not have a true foundation to begin with.

    Secondly, the latter view does not consider a Christianity beyond the American perspective. When a believer in Iran engages in a selfless act that may end up in their being matryed, something tells me it has nothing to do with looking "good" to a fellow worshipper.

    Truth is, apart from Christ we are all selfish, egocentric hypocrites. A mature relationship with Christ reveals a completely different picture, though...with characteristics of joy and peace and kindness and gentleness, etc.

    It may be time for "unfaithful" to consider the eternal consequences of not having a personal relationship with the only one who can turn the selfish into the genuinely selfless.

  4. You both make good points. However I feel that even a martyr relishes in the idea of being remembered for their great sacrifice. With a belief in heaven afterwards they would be able to look down and witness all their relatives speaking well of them, etc. I have often dreamed of this very scenario myself. Even with the argument that it is all for the glory of God alone, it comes back to you knowing you will still be recognized in some way for your contributions even if that recognition is by God alone. However this argument is quite pointless as it doesn't really mean anything. We are still going to do nice things for others regardless, but I think knowing why you are doing them is very important (its all for you).

    Going back to what you said Gillian, I am not worried about the afterlife (getting into heaven) because I don't believe it exists. Still I enjoy reading other's opinions on it because I like to keep an open mind.

  5. Interesting point. I won't belabor the argument, but I will say that if you are interested in having more discussion, the email button on my profile is working (or it SHOULD be).