Every day during Lent, members of Oconee Street UMC will write a Lenten devotional and share with the congregation.
by Sharon Pendley
March 28, 2014
Scripture:We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8
Since my life has been consumed with teaching confirmation class the last few months, I can’t help but draw my thoughts from there. I have learned so much through this process and the kids have taught me a good bit of it!
God calls each of us to be ministers and there are opportunities in every moment to be just that. There is no requirement that we be ordained or that we attend a school of Divinity. The confirmands learned as we explored the job description of a minister that those responsibilities are not exclusive of being a pastor. Helping the poor, visiting the sick and shut-in, and helping people of lesser ability than us is all part of Jesus’ calling to ‘Feed my sheep.’ Preaching is not necessarily done from a pulpit but can also be done by our actions and in fact, our actions preach God’s word even louder than the best sermon. We often may not know who is watching us and what they might learn from how we treat other people or how we stand up for what is right. Along with helping the poor we have a responsibility to advocate for laws that stop poverty and injustice to the poor and outcast.
Each of us has many gifts that we can use as ministers. I have observed our confirmands and our world is blessed to have future leaders with such wonderful gifts to share. Sam and Elizabeth are both very good at recognizing injustice and speaking up for what is right. Lucy and Julie are very creative and can think of ideas that are outside the box to solve a problem. Casey is disciplined and a deep thinker. She asks the difficult questions that we all need to ask to grow our faith. Chandler is our evangelist. She feels the spirit and loves to spread the news. Each one of these gifts is very different but very useful in their lives as ministers. I have already seen them using their gifts to bless others and I can’t wait to see what other gifts they discover as they grow!
What if we don’t know what our gifts are? How do we discover them? There are four spiritual disciplines that the confirmands learned about that can help us exercise our faith so that we are open to seeing our gifts and hearing from God. If we practice the disciplines of devotion, worship, compassion, and justice, we can see what we are passionate about and that is often where our gifts lie. Quite often using some of our gifts puts us outside our comfort zone but when we are in that uncomfortable place, God is always right beside us.
Devotion is setting aside an amount of time each day to meditate, read scripture, or a selected devotional. This time helps you to slow down enough to hear the voice of God. Worship is what we do collectively to praise God. Being with a group of other people helps us see things from different perspectives. Compassion is caring for others and through these acts we are able to see Christ in others and we find that rather than being a helper we are often the ones who are helped. And finally, Justice is what we seek for all God’s creation. It’s not just extending a hand to help another person; it’s speaking out against the injustices against those people.
Prayer: Loving God, help us to be open to your voice, whether it is a quiet nudging or a big kick. Help us to be willing to try something new that we might not have thought we could do, knowing that you will be beside us through it. In the name of Jesus, Amen.