I am a teacher.
Doesn’t that sound great? Everyone knows what a teacher is, and everyone knows teachers are valuable and make a difference. “Teacher” is a good, solid title for what my purpose is.
God gives many people gifts to use in this world that have no title, aren’t easily defined, and do not have highly visible roles in the church.
So this exasperating thing happens (well, exasperating to me), where really gifted, valuable people think they are not gifted and valuable because they’ve got no title. They ask, What does God want me to do in this world? And I think:
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I see you doing it! How can you not see it?
They’re like the tin man, the lion, and the scarecrow singing, If I only had a gift…
They are gifted by the Spirit, and most of them are exercising their gifts. But they cannot see it because they haven’t been handed a certificate defining it.
The heart and the brain and the courage were there all along, says the Wizard of Oz.
For example, I know a woman who is generally quiet and reserved. What she does is be there. When someone is hurting, this merciful woman is there. She is amazing. And what do we call this role she plays in the church?
I know –right? There’s no title for it.
I feel like buying a pack of name tags and walking around sticking a title to all of you, just so you know your gift is, as my teenage son would say, “legit”:
“OFFICIAL TITLE OF PURPOSE IN THIS WORLD: Here if you need me.”
“OFFICIAL TITLE OF PURPOSE IN THIS WORLD: Will hold your hand if you’re sad.”
“OFFICIAL TITLE OF PURPOSE IN THIS WORLD: Looking you in the eyes and telling you God is going to get you through this.”
“OFFICIAL TITLE OF PURPOSE IN THIS WORLD: Inviting you to lunch and paying for it.”
“OFFICIAL TITLE OF PURPOSE IN THIS WORLD: Sitting by you in church.”
“OFFICIAL TITLE OF PURPOSE IN THIS WORLD: Writing encouraging notes and sending them to you by snail mail.”
Paul says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7 NIV) Each follower of Christ has a different gift and purpose, and Paul never says a person needs a fancy title to contribute to the common good of the body of Christ.
So have you been shrinking back from serving God, because that thing you really enjoy doing for people seems insignificant and unofficial in the church? If yes, it’s highly likely that you’re suffering from no-certificate syndrome. I would suggest that you get with a few close sisters in Christ. Take turns pointing out to one another how you see God’s grace pouring out from the life of each person, and give each other titles for those grace-gifts. (You may want to study 1 Corinthians 12 first, to get a full understanding of spiritual gifts.)
Because when you know for sure what God has shaped you to be in this world, you can do it with all confidence and energy.