I was recently invited to attend a speaker at my youngest daughter’s elementary school. OK, I wasn’t invited. I asked if I could come and listen in. You see, one of my very favorite children’s book authors was coming to the school to talk with the second and third graders and I was in awe. While thrilled for my daughter to be able to see her in person, I didn’t want to be left out. I love her books.
I settled in to a spot on the wooden bleachers of the gymnasium and listened to the woman whose written words and watercolor illustrations I had long admired. She had the children hanging on her every word as she explained the inspiration for several of her eighty picture books. She told them about her childhood and being different than the others in her school. She talked to them about what it was like to be treated as if she didn’t matter just because she didn’t learn in the same way as the other children. “Each of us is gifted,” she said, “It’s just that we open our gifts at different times.”
Not only was I reminded that God sometimes speaks to us in the most unexpected places and through people who surprise us but one of my mantras for some time has been “Thank you God for making all of us different.” After all, it is those differences, those gifts from God, which make us who we are. Our baptism connects us and we are sent forth to live our lives demonstrating how those gifts matter.
Even the Directory For Worship of the PC(USA) Constitution emphasizes the call we are all given. “God calls a people to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; to follow Jesus Christ in obedient discipleship; to use the gifts and abilities God has given, honoring and serving God (1) in personal life, (2) in household and families, (3) in daily occupations, (4) in community, nation, and the world.” (W-5.6001)
As leaders in Christ’s church we are called to help God’s people open and appreciate their giftedness. Not only are we to help notice the gifts in others but we are called to tell them what we see and to help them find ways to share those gifts in the world.
I don’t think that I will ever write eighty books and may never be asked to be the speaker at an elementary school event but God is leading me to share the Good News through other parts of my life. I know this, in part, because of the many leaders who took the time to get to know who I was, told me when they saw my eyes light up and noticed my passion and then continue to serve as resources as I share those gifts with those around me. God is leading you as well.
How are you helping God’s people identify the gifts given to them by God?
How can you serve as a mentor, finding ways that God’s people might live into those gifts?
Martha H. Miller
Office of Vocation