When I first became a Christian, I was drowning. I was floundering in the dark, and Jesus brought me into the light. For a long time, that light was all I could see. Then as I started to get established in the church community, I started to hear more and more about “spiritual gifts”. This is a Christian way of saying: the ways God has equipped you to fulfill your purpose. I decided that in order to be a “good” Christian, I had to both identify and use my spiritual gifts.
At first, I tried to decide what my spiritual gifts were, as if I could choose them. I was a new mother, so surely my gift must be children. I started volunteering in the children’s ministry at church. However, I didn’t have a passion for serving with the children. I hated being there, and I felt guilty for it. I did that for many years before I finally let go of the guilt.
I also felt guilty for not knowing what my gifts actually were. What did God want me to do? What is His plan for me? How could I analyze my skills and use them for His glory? I begged Him to show me what He wanted me to do, and how I should serve. I wanted to be involved in the church, but I didn’t know how.
One day, about 8 years after accepting Christ as my Savior, God finally revealed to me my purpose: to welcome people in His name.
Let me go back a little bit.
I was in the US Army many moons ago. At my unit, we would get new soldiers every Tuesday. I would stand at the door when they came in, shake everyone’s hand, introduce myself, and let them know where they could find my room if they needed help finding anything. I would go out of my way to take the new people on errands, show them around, even letting complete strangers borrow my car. (This was probably not a wise decision, but I was only 18-19. It never turned out poorly, but I still don’t recommend it.)
Being the self-appointed welcome wagon is actually how I met my husband, Byron. He was one of those new soldiers that I took under my wing. I even met my future mother-in-law and sister-in-law before Byron and I were even dating, because I was giving him a ride to pick up his visiting family.
As time passed, I left the Army and became a stay-at-home mom. In whatever groups I found myself, I found that I was always doing my best to reach out to new people. I would send welcome packages to people moving to my town. I got groceries for newcomers people who were in the hotel, and gave them rides. I would have expecting moms over for lunch and do my best to ease their worries and answer their questions, and do the same with other moms who were considering homeschooling. And through all this, I have made many amazing friends.
It dawned on me one day that maybe this is my gift. Maybe reaching out to people and helping them feel welcome is what God wants me to do. God confirmed it for me not long after the thought was planted. And then soon after that, my husband decided to go to seminary to be come a pastor – which means in a few short years I will have the role of a pastor’s wife. I can see now how He has had this plan for me all along. Looking back on my experiences and choices, I feel like it’s where I was meant to be. I pray I will make Him proud.
*Disclaimer* I do not think you need to know your gifts. I believe that God has a plan for each one of us, and He will reveal that plan at the appropriate time. If you do not know your gift, pray and ask Him to show you. If He does not, then wait, and trust in His perfect timing. He may still be working on you!