Just serving or helping is a great way to begin using our gifts. This keeps us humble enough to be refined and skilled in our growth by others to who we are voluntarily submitted. We need to enact this ourselves, not waiting for others to initiate! All too many people have become cynical and offended by harbouring an expectation that others are going to come chasing, mentoring or requesting them, as if God owes us the back-slapping reward of recognition. Remembering that it’s never all about us, and that we partner with many equally-valuable (albeit differently gifted and motivated) people, brings a healthy perspective.
Using our gifts also needs us to free ourselves of the responsibility to be the source of the giftedness. Other peoples’ betterment may be enabled by using our gifts, but is not dependent on this. I can inspire, equip and encourage, but ultimately I’m just the conduit for the true source of life-change. My gifts or abilities, too, reflect the enabling of God so that these become an overflow of His life flowing in, and also through, me. Flowing and not stationary, but flowing through and not flowing from.
I live less pressured and better aligned to the purpose for which I was created when I’m not the fountain of all knowledge and when I am a conduit of God. Recognising that the prophet Elijah was wrong in his anxious and depressed belief that he was the only prophet of God left on Earth (1 Kings 19:10) actually reminds us of our proper place in the whole scheme of things and helps us to hold all that we have lightly, whilst clinging to God tightly.
So, as we seek to use our gifts, let’s remember to be the pipe and not the pump!