God Has Uniquely Made You…You—For a Lifetime of “Life-Style” Ministry
That is a saying I use often. It is a mantra I believe strongly in. I have lived it and experienced it to be true. I have seen this to be true in the lives of so many others that I have pastored and discipled. And I believe it is true for you. You will be most satisfied in life and ministry when you live and operate within your God given “fit”…when you operate in the strengths and gifting’s that God has given you. But for many, this is a process of self-discovery, as we wonder, “What is my ‘fit’?” How do you know? What do I even mean by “fit”?
Here is another aspect I know: God made you unique. There is no one like you.
Scripture says that every follower of Jesus has at least one spiritual gift (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12). God imparts these gifts to His Church for the building up of His eternal Kingdom. And there are a variety of gifts and different roles within the body—each important to the functioning and growth as whole. Spiritual gifts are not talents or abilities—they are supernatural enablements given by the Holy Spirit for the building up of God’s Kingdom and His Church. Such spiritual gifts are: Wisdom, knowledge, faith, prophecy, teaching, helps/service, administration, tongues, discernment, leadership, mercy, and others.
But God did not just give you spiritual gifts. You have passions and interests that drive you and fulfill you when you partake in them. This is how movements start. Someone acts on their passion to see something fixed or accomplished. The Civil Rights movement happened because men and women raised up and changed the world out of a passionate belief that all men are created equal and should be. There are those who have a heart and passion for the poor and underprivileged. There are those who have a heart and passion for saving the unborn from the horrors of abortion—or helping heal the hearts in women who have had an abortion. Some have a passion to build up marriages. The areas of passion are limitless. What is yours?
You have natural talents and skills that you have learned and honed. Not everyone can work on a car (and not everyone should). Just like not everyone has been medically trained. Or play the cello. Or slam-dunk a basketball. We all have natural abilities that we were born with that make us who we are—whether they be physical, mental, or emotional abilities. We have also honed those abilities through training and experience.
You have a certain personality that is unique to you. God has room in His Kingdom work for introverts and extroverts. Whether your personality type is Dominant, Inspiring, Cautious, or Supportive on the DISC text. Or whatever 1 through….whatever number of the Enneagram—God uses all of it in unique ways.
You also have certain experiences that you have gone through…good experiences and bad. Maybe you have traveled and experienced different cultures…you have been married for 50 years…you’ve been through a divorce…you’ve had children…you stayed single…you’ve moved around…you stayed in the same house all your life…you are poor…you are rich…you have faced great pain… no matter what your experiences have been God wastes none of it. Romans 8:28 is the promise that God uses ALL things, good and bad, to work together for GOOD to those you love God and are called according to His purpose. We have a God that redeems and uses ALL of our experiences for His glory—so you and your past are not accidents.
I say this in our Connect Event to all the new people who come to our church: There might be many reasons that you come and connect at a local church like Morning Star. But that is not WHY you are here. God has a plan for you and wants to use you to build up His kingdom. There might be someone here that is going through something that you have gone through—and God has you here to connect with them and minister to them. There are also people here that have gone through something, a season, that you are going to walk through—and God has them ready to connect with you to encourage and minister to you when you walk through your season.
God uses all of it: your Spiritual gifts, your Heart, your Abilities, your Personality, and your Experiences—those things that make you uniquely you. Understanding what these things are and how they work together is an important tool to navigate our understanding of how God has made us for a lifetime of “lifestyle-ministry”.
One really good tool that I have found to be helpful in this discovery is the S.H.A.P.E. test created by Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. It dives into each aspect: Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and our Experiences. As we work through this and see the results on paper—I want to keep things in perspective. These kind of tests are not an “end-all” answer or defining of a person. These are meant to be conversation starters and direction pointers. I invite you to work through this test with someone that knows you. I also invite you to work through the results with someone. Ask a couple people that have walked life with you if they see what the SHAPE test revealed. Talk about within your community sphere—with a friend, a spouse, a community group and allow them to speak into what they see.
When you are done ask yourself—do I agree with what was discovered? What aspects do I struggle with? What do I agree with? How can I use this to point me toward the glory of God—and the discovery of what kind of ministry and purpose that would give me great satisfaction and God glory?
We are most satisfied, and God is most glorified, when we are living and operating within our “fit”…within our “S.H.A.P.E”.
Try it. Engage in the test. See what you discover. Engage in the results. Engage in conversations with others of what you discovered. Then see where God leads you. I want to hear about this process from you!
Feel free to download a copy here.