If you're a church-goer, I'm sure you've heard sermons and lessons about the importance of using the gifts that God has given you...right? I remember as a kid thinking that I didn't really have any "talents." I can definitely carry a tune, but I'm not a great singer. I took piano lessons for about five years (and there were very brief stints at the violin and the flute), but I wouldn't say that I'm a talented musician. I've been in plays, but I was always cast in minor roles...no amazingly great acting talent here. I'm NOT athletic, so that's definitely not a gift that God gave me. In my mind, these were the kinds of gifts these sermons and lessons were talking about, so I always felt a little bad that I didn't have a gift I could use.
As I got older, it finally dawned on me that there are lots of different kinds of gifts. I spent a lot of time as a teenager volunteering with different groups and organizations. I think that the willingness to give of yourself and of your time is a gift that people often don't consider. As an adult, I realized that one of my gifts is the ability to handle of group of middle school and/or high school students without losing my sanity, so I taught Religious Ed to 6th and 7th graders at church for a few years.
Since getting married, though, and moving up here, I haven't really been doing much in the way of using the gifts God has given me. I think this is probably the case for a lot of us...and I think I might know why. Another sermon/lesson I remember hearing a lot is the importance of being humble. Don't think of yourself as being better than others...right? Don't be proud. And yet, to be able to use the gifts God has given you, you have to acknowledge that you are gifted in a certain area, don't you? You have to be able to think, "Yes, I am good at *this*, and here's what I can do with that."
I finally started acknowledging a couple of my God-given gifts lately. #1 - I really don't mind public speaking. It's been a long time since I've gotten nervous to stand in front of a crowd and talk. And #2 - I'm good at reading out loud. I actually enjoyed having opportunities to read out loud to my students, and they would occasionally ask me to do it for them.
So a few weeks ago, I volunteered to become a Lector at our church. If you're not Catholic...a Lector is someone who reads the Scripture readings to the congregation during Mass. I was privileged to be one of the Lectors at Mass each of the last two Sundays, and if I do say so myself, I did a pretty good job. :-)
I was particularly happy to find out that one of the readings I was responsible for (the second reading this past Sunday) was one of my all-time favorite passages. I think it's one that just about anybody can relate to...so here it is!
Philippians 4:4-7 "Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."