I started this journey two years ago in hopes of providing content to help others along their spiritual journey as well as learn about Community of Christ. I have learned a lot over these two years and have been blessed with some wonderful people to share their stories and experience on here. For our two year anniversary I wanted to share some lessons I have learned about this ministry and hopefully they are pertinent to your faith journey.
1. God journeys with us
The more I write and hear from others the more I know God is right there with each one of us on the journey. God is shaping who we are by the experiences we live in and through each day. When we respond to God's prompting in our lives we usually find ourselves giving to and blessing others. It is in these actions where God is fully present living, loving, and working. God is with us during the ups and downs and will forever be along the journey with us.
2. We must share our stories
When we share stories people begin to connect and understand who God is. It is in our personal witness that people come to know and feel the love of Christ. Stories are meaningful, inspiring, and empower others to find God. They also help us remember the times when we had a personal encounter with the divine and what it meant for us in that moment. Stories teach how God is moving and working in the world. It makes God's love into something tangible and real that can actually happen to me.
3. Everyone has something to contribute
Some of the most valuable and meaningful content over the last two years were from guest bloggers sharing their heart about their personal encounter with Christ. Many were flattered about the opportunity to share and wondered if it would be good enough. God has each given us stories to share which will contribute to the spiritual growth of others. I cannot stress enough that each one of us can contribute. We all have gifts, talents, and a story others need to hear.
4. No one is beyond God's grace
Life has a way of chewing us up and spitting us out. Bad circumstances and events happen to people and we often feel we are not worthy or deserving enough to be loved. But God thinks differently. God sees your worth and value and calls you a beloved child. God knows the struggles you have been through and yet loves you all the same. That's what grace is. God continues to choose you and call you by your name, because you are worthy and deserving of love.
Thank you to all those who have supported the blog these last two years. I have appreciated hearing the positive feedback.
This week hug someone and tell them they are worthy of God's love!
Exploring Our Giftedness
First of all a big thank you to last week's Guest Blogger Williams Ottens. What great insight and information about how books can broaden our worldview and help us become more inclusive.
When I was a kid, like most Community of Christ children I was asked to participate in the worship service by reading a scripture, praying, etc. I tried to get out of doing this because I was shy and disliked being in front of people. Despite my worthwhile attempts, my mother lovingly coerced me to be a participant. I would walk up to the podium, talk until my voice cracked, turn beat red, finish whatever I was saying, sit down, and say to myself and my mother "I'm never doing that again."
As you can probably gather, each time was never the last time. However I remember my mother softly praising me after every attempt, putting that little question in my mind "Did I really do ok?" My mother knew that skills and talents are things which are developed. You may not naturally have it but through time and effort skills arise. She seemed to understand the importance of doing things which make us uncomfortable and pushing through the fear that holds us captive. Over many years, my mindset about being in front of others has changed in thanks to the continued experiences I had.
We all have natural gifts and talents. Some we know about and others are yet to be discovered. The environments around us play a major role in how we develop our gifts. Churches can play a positive role in gift and skill development however I know for many the church environment has not been a supporting place for this to happen. In fact its been the opposite, something hurtful and counter productive.
People have been rejected for trying to share their gifts while others were told they were not good enough. And for some they were never looked at to provide anything past what others already thought they could do. So let's look closer at the various parts that go into using and developing our gifts and talents.
What Are My Gifts?
Sometimes we do not see the talents and skills we possess. However others can and do. This point is one reason why being a part of a community of people caring about you is imperative. That community is hopefully cultivating those skills from what they notice in you and encouraging you along the way.
In a church community gifts are to be used and given to God and others. Not only do you need the community to help you realize your potential but the community needs you and the skills you bring. I think its important to note that these gifts should also be used outside the walls of a church building. If you are curious what some of your strengths may be you can take this free strengths test from high 5 test. You can also read Janet Scarborough Civitelli's article "Strengths Assessment: 10 Ways to Know What You Are Good at Doing."
All Are Called
The Community of Christ has an enduring principle that All Are Called. This is a belief that everyone is given gifts and talents that can be used to share the peace of Christ in the world. You do not have to be a minister or even church member to use your gifts to provide service.
I believe this principle is one reason why so many Community of Christ congregations are led by lay ministers (bi-vocational ministers). It's a belief that everyones gifts are important and should be used to help the church function. It also means Community of Christ congregations seek active participation from its members as they are comfortable.
From a skill development standpoint this can be great because it allows us as disciples to actively develop and refine our gifts with encouraging people around us. On the other hand it can cause added stress as we are pushed outside our comfort zone. Bottom line is we each have to decide what we are going to do with the gifts God has given us and the ways in which we can develop them.
I know some churches only use the best of the best. I get it, they want to create an atmosphere that will pull people into their inner selfs and connect them at a deeper level with the divine. But I also see this leaving a large majority of people to be observers, that are not cultivating their gifts. The debate will continue about what is better for those coming to church. And truly I don't know if there is a right answer but just different expressions based on what people need. I do believe the spirit moves not just based on our talents and how good we are but when we give of ourselves in the moment.
If you are a person who has been rejected or pushed out I sincerely hope at some point you find your way back to sharing your gifts in a church community. It can be difficult to risk sharing again. It can be a long process in figuring out what the next steps are. Take your time and find what is right for you.
Giftedness and What Really Matters?
What really matters is your continued development of gifts to be used in positive ways throughout the world.
I believe God sees you in this very moment. I believe God delights in who you are and sees the hidden talent that is waiting to emerge if only you believe in yourself. I believe people are waiting to benefit from your gifts if only you step outside your comfort zone. So don't hesitate but be willing to give of yourself to your community and/or religious organization. Bring positivity, bring joy, and bring the peace of Christ to others.
Thank you again for all those following along! This week explore your giftedness by asking someone close to you to identify 5 strengths/ things you are good at.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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