Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What if? #3 - Talents and Abilities

WHAT IF you were to see and use your talents and abilities as an opportunity to advance God’s Kingdom?
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17
I often have students & leaders approach me with a request that is awkward to talk through. "I want to speak on a Wednesday Night."

I understand where the thought is coming from. 200+ students sitting together, staring at the stage. That person taking the stage and sharing with the students what a relationship with Christ looks like. How else could that happen?

We live in a church culture that has over-glorified the pulpit, or maybe I should just call it what it is... the stage. The true sign of "arrival" in being a minister is to stand on a stage before a crowd (the larger the crowd the more you've "arrived") and present the message.

That thought process saddens me. It's filled with enough holes to form a golf course. First off, here's where it falls apart:
  • Rarely will students come up to me (one who is on the stage often) and tell me how they remember a message I shared on a Wednesday Night or Sunday morning.
  • Actually, many graduates will specifically share, "I don't remember a single specific message you shared" or "you spoke to me tons of times, and I only remember one message."
  • If preaching from a stage is the most important form of sharing about God, the Old Testament is void, and the majority of Jesus ministry on earth was pointless.
  • Anyone who stops and thinks about the major spiritual influences on their life, they rarely came from a stage. They most often happened across a table, in a house, on a car ride, etc.
  • We are one body, with many parts. Some of us are equipped and able to operate a sound board. Some of us are not. If those who aren't step to that sound board and operate it, the results can be disastrous. Some of us are able to counsel people in great need. It just comes naturally to us. Others of us are not. Some us us are able to stand and speak in a way that people follow and are challenged into action. Some of us are not. All are important. None more important than the other.
I believe in the stage though; but I define it much broader than the church pulpit. I believe that everyone has been given a stage (many times multiple stages) where they have an opportunity to share a message. It comes through us identify the talents and abilities God has blessed us with, and putting them into practice for his sake. I have seen incredible results when this has been done.
  • Adam and Kory both realized that their athletic ability may be something more than an opportunity to showcase themselves. Adam started a chapel with his football team and saw some guys lives truly transformed as they sought to learn what it means to glorify God. Kory, the star Quarterback and Point Guard had multiple news stories (in print and on televsion) run on him that were totally centered around his faith and how he lived it out on the field, in school, and in the church. Kory saw multiple teammates come to know Christ through taking advantage of the "stage" he was given.
  • Brandie and Jessica realized that their musical ability was an opportunity to advance his Kingdom. When Brandie was given an opportunity to choose her song for school events, she would choose a song that presented the message of Christ in some format. Both gals got involved in our Praise Band at church. Now, Brandie and Jessica lead our Junior and Senior High Praise Bands on Wednesday Night.
  • Grant and Kristen are both incredible artists. On a whim, one night we gave Grant the opportunity to paint to the side while our Worship Band played. What unfolded was an absolutely amazing gift in Grant where he could lead people in worship through painting. Kristen drew two pictures for our Silent Auction for Kenya Night. Combined the two pictures raise $1500 for the Maasai Project and Kenya Night.
  • Preston and Austin are techie geeks who love messing around with their computers and video. Preston would help run our Media on Wednesday Nights. Austin ran the entire tech team his Senior Year. Both Preston and Austin are now vital in putting together the video and audio of our weekend services which then go around the world.
  • Haley was a cheerleader. She saw a huge need for a move of God among her squad. She pulled together two other gals who were Christians and they began to pray for their team. They saw the most unlikely girl on the entire squad get radically saved.
  • Kristy loves to serve behind the scenes. Whenever there was an opportunity to help with setup, tear down, decoration, or even stuffing bulletins... Kristy would love to do it. Now Kristy runs about everything that is behind the scenes in Senior High. Registrations, stage decor, mailings, communication to teams; Kristy makes it happen.
Some of these people have stepped on the stage of our. Some avoid the stage at all costs. All of these individuals caught on to something huge... the talent that they'd been given has been used to advance the Kingdom of God. And much like the parable of the Talents that we read, I believe these individuals have and will experience the words of their master...

'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
Matthew 25:23
What if students at NMC were to truly take the talents and abilities they have, and seize the opportunity to advance God's Kingdom instead of their own?

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