Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Replacing Frustration with Gratification

The summer following my graduation from high school, I was employed by a furniture manufacturing company. On my first day at work, the supervisor placed me at the rear of the plant nailing chair arms together. This was a simple task that consisted of nailing two pieces of lumber together at a right angle. My first impression was that this was going to be a piece of cake. This impression soon became wishful thinking. Between the times I hit my thumb and the times I bent the nails, I was able to nail the boards correctly.

Being an astute judge of talent, my supervisor recognized that my talents were not being utilized. Since my clothing was drenched in sweat, he could see that it was not a matter of laziness or lack of effort. He could also see my frustration. Finally, he removed me from the task and took me to the loading dock in the rear of the plant. He directed me to a huge lumber truck that needed to be unloaded and said get to work. While some might see this as a demotion, I saw it as a lifesaver. The work was hard but it was a task that I was comfortable doing.

Like my brief encounter with nailing chair arms together, there are many individuals in our churches that are working hard at a task that they are not equipped to do. They are faithful workers who wish to do a good job, but they find little satisfaction in what they are doing. Their task becomes a job to accomplish rather than a ministry to enjoy. They live for the day that they can pass their job to the next person that finds himself on the nominating committee’s radar. Their lack of fulfillment in their work makes them less enthusiastic about accepting the next job they are asked to take. When this scenario continues to repeat itself, it is easy to understand why it is difficult to get people to serve.

God’s word has an answer to the dilemma. Paul wrote, “And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly” (Romans 12:6a NASB). Peter wrote, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10 NASB).

The implications from these verses are huge. They suggest that God has given us all a gift for the purpose of serving others. Since we all do not have the same gift, there are things that we don’t enjoy. Consequently, we do not do them well. On the other hand, if we are using the gifts God has given to us, we will accomplish much more and we will receive a genuine blessing from our work.

This raises the question about how we find our gift or gifts. There are numerous books on the subject. While they can be helpful, it is important to remember that people in God’s church were discovering their gifts and using them to serve others long before there was printing. With this in mind, let me suggest a starting place. Consider starting by submitting to serve wherever God shows you He wants you to serve. Then begin praying that He will reveal to you where He wishes to use you. Next, give close thought to what you would like to do if you could choose from all the tasks that are found in the church. Assuming you have no ulterior motives, the desire of your hearts may well hold the secret to how God has gifted you to serve. He really does want you to succeed and He wants you to be blessed by your efforts. He wants to turn your frustration into gratification.

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