Finding Your Sweet Spot
Have you ever done something and you realized: “I shouldn’t be doing this"?
I remember the one time I went to an indoor skiing facility with my dad and brother. They rented skies, but I was stubborn and decided to go snowboarding. After all, I frequently went out to skateboard – so skiing just didn’t seem right. I just seemed more appropriate for me to snowboard. And also, of course, it’s much cooler – am I right?
It took me 15 minutes to get up the hill, holding one to one of those hooks that slides you up. When I got to the top, I hooked on the board and went down – in one straight line with a speed increasing to dangerous levels. I didn’t When the end of the hill was in sight, I had to break. But how? I quickly decided there was only one way to do this – fall. I threw myself to the ground in the hopes of a safe arrival. It worked!
After repeating this routine twice, one of the stewards walked up to me and said: “You are a danger to yourself and the people around you. Get lost!”
I agreed with him and took the snowboard back and got skies instead.
Want I want to make clear to you in this blogpost is that God has created all of us with a unique set of natural strengths and abilities that point us to what we should be doing.
We were all created differently! Some pick up a snowboard and zig-zag all the way down smoothly. Some pick up an instrument and can just play it with only one week of practice. I've heard that there are some people that understand how Microsoft Excel works!
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
God has created you uniquely, to make a unique contribution to the body of Christ.
If we want to discover more about God’s plan for our lives, we first need to have a closer look at how He created us.
BODY OF CHRIST
1 Corinthians gives beautiful image of how God sees the church and how He sees us functioning as individual members in that greater whole.
1 Corinthians 12:12-18, 27 (NLT)
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.
27) All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.
The Body of Christ is a unique gathering of people that are all different, put together by the Master Designer to function as a unity in their diversity.
When we can form a unity – as a body – in the diversity of God’s design, we can be effective and efficient. But then hands should start operating as feet, mouths shouldn’t demand that the rest is ear and noses shouldn’t expect that everyone else has as good a smell as they do! If we want to understand God’s plan for our lives, we need to discover what part of the body of Christ we are. 3 TYPES OF GIFTS
In the New Testament we find three different lists of gifts – all from the same author: Paul. Some people see these three lists as complimentary and they throw them all on one pile. However, there is a subtle difference between these three lists, and understanding that difference will help us to discover more about how God created us.
1) Grace gifts
First list, 1 Corinthians 12, are called grace-gifts. Some of them are permanent, some of them aren’t. You never ‘have’ these gifts in the sense of owning them, rather you receive them when you work in close connection with the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11
7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 8 To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. 9 The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
All of these gifts are available to us when we work in close connection to the Holy Spirit.
One of our values in the Vineyard is that “everyone gets to play”. God is calling everyone of us to be used by Him in a supernatural way through gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit.
The second list, which we find in Ephesians 4, are referred to as ministries. The gifts, in this case are people.
Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
So these are people that the Holy Spirit enables with supernatural gifts, combined with natural talents and experiences that Christ gives to the church. People that help the broader church to step into all that God has for them. These ministries are usually recognized over a longer period of time in serving in the church. Their calling is not to take the spotlight, but to serve people and equip them to do the things God has called them to do.
3) Functional gifts
The third list is going to be most helpful when it comes to discovering what God is calling every individual to. This is a list of gifts we can understand as supernaturally empowered talents.
Let me explain. God made you a certain way. There are things that you can do well, even if you are not a believer. But when you decide to give God your natural talents and start to use them, under the influence of the Holy Spirit – they become gifts.
Romans 12:6-8 (NLT)
6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
So in this list, which I don’t think is exhaustive, we recognize the idea that God is enabling us and empowering us to take our specific place in the Church. There are many ways to serve other people in the church with what God has already put in you.
FINDING YOUR SWEET SPOT
Too many Christians in too many churches are not serving the Lord in line with what He has intended for them. They mean well, they work hard, they have a servant heart and do accomplish great things – but they don’t find fulfillment.
If you are not finding fulfillment in the area where you are serving – then you are probably not serving where you are supposed to be serving. Sadly, many churches get stuck in letting people serve in the area of need – instead of the area of gifting. They choose the short-term win, over the long-term effect. And they end up with a group of people that serve because they have to, not because they want to.
HOW TO FIND YOUR SWEET SPOT
Here are three practical steps to help you to discover your sweet spot.
1) What is your experience telling you?
To find the place of service that fits you, look back at the past and think of what you have always enjoyed doing. What were moments that you were truly happy, because of a contribution that you’ve made? Through our experiences, God can also work a certain passion in us for an area of service. These can be both positive or negative.
For example, if you grew up in a church with great music and worship – this may have created a desire in you to serve God in this way as well. It is something you are quickly enthusiastic for. It may have been a place God brought you to, to prepare you for how He wants to use you in a different place.
But a negative experience can also point you into a direction of what God is preparing you for.
If you’ve always felt uncomfortable in a church because something was missing, this may point you to your calling – otherwise you wouldn’t notice! It could also be a turbulent life-experience. I believe that when God has carried you through a difficult phase in your life, He might want to use you to help someone else through a similar phase.
2) What are other people telling you?
If God has gifted you a certain way, this will always be recognized by the brothers and sisters around you. So listen well to what people say when they give you a compliment. If people always mention how they appreciate your hospitality – you might have a hospitality gift!
Reverse is also true – you may be convinced you have a certain gift, but if no one is giving you positive feedback on this, you might be mistaken. So unless you really specifically heard from God about this, you might be pursuing the wrong thing.
3) What is God telling you?
To discover what God is preparing you for, stop and think for a bit what makes your heart beat faster? What motivates you more than anything else? What do you dream about?
I believe that everything God is calling us to in the future, He is already preparing in our hearts right now.