Readers Question / Comment - How did you come to do what you do? And how do I know what my gift and skill is?

Hi Iain,

I was reading through a passage in I Chronicles when a verse leaped from the page. Ch 15 v 22, "Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it."(NIV) I don't know why this should seem so important now; perhaps it's only important to me at the moment. All the same, what I am hearing the Word say is that Kenaniah was responsible (compelled, required, duty-bound) to lead singing explicitly because that was where his aptitudes lay. The Word says nothing about Kenaniah's desire--it doesn't enter into the equation. As an aside, I think God blesses us with desires parallel to our abilities, but it isn't specifically mentioned here.

My friend was in the office just now, and I asked him about this concept. He mentions the gifts of Christ and the gifts of the Spirit. As an example, he mentioned that some are evangelists... (Ephesians 4), and seem to have particular skill in helping unsaved people meet Jesus. I guess what I want to know is, how do I know what my "skill" is? It seems I should have this worked out by now.

How, for instance, did you come to do what you do? Your discussions of Scripture are profound and understandable. You have a grasp of the historical context and are skilled at interpreting prophecy yet to be fulfilled. Were these always natural leanings of yours?

I appreciate your time. I am sure you are, in fact, doing what you were meant to do.

Thank again.

JPN Reply:

Hi,

thanks for the email. You asked how I came to do what I do. Yeah it is interesting looking back. Firstly, I've never been a writer. I went through school more on the maths/science side of things and that is what my degree was in - maths and computer science. I became a Christian in my first year at University but looking back even earlier I can see God using some courses I did to give me some skills that I would need. In my last year at High School (and in my first year at University while not a Christian), I 'decided' to do something different and took History. Basically the whole year was reading, studying, looking for key points, and mostly essay writing! Yuk! And I didn't have a clue how to write really. I was way out of my comfort zone but really tried to apply myself for some reason. That gave me some initial skills that God would possibly use in the future.

In terms of speaking, that was my biggest fear going through High School. Hated it... Big time. I was so nervous in class speeches I was useless. But a funny thing happened. I became a Christian when I was 19 and when I started going to church I'd listen to the speaker and think to myself 'that's a good way of thinking about that... I'll use that when I speak...' And then I'd think 'what? you can't speak! What are you talking about Iain!?' But that happened a lot. I'd keep catching myself thinking that I'll talk about this or that. So right from the start I knew I'd end up teaching God's word. I didn't particularly like that thought initially cos I so hated public speaking... but I knew that God was calling me there so trusted that He would have to give me what I didn't have naturally.

The Bible study came firstly just from a passion to learn more about God. No agenda. Just wanted to learn. When I became a Christian I just gobbled up books. Especially about prophecy and what the Lord has done for us. It wasn't with any intended goal at the start other than I really enjoyed it and wanted to know more! Later when I started to realise that I would one day be teaching/preaching for the Lord, well that helped focus that drive further to work and study hard - I have never taken the position lightly... If you are teaching about the Lord you don't want to be teaching error!

In terms of the website, well that wasn't even my idea. Around 1998/99 my friend Brett said 'hey, I was thinking that we should start a website with some Bible studies'. I said 'ok, I've got one or two studies I could put up but you'll have to do most of the work cos I don't have a lot of time.' He said that was fine. Famous last word as I've ended up doing basically all the work since then! : ) But he pays the bills!

A person's call and gifting doesn't have to be in an area of personal natural strength. Mine wasn't. But it will be a person's God given passion. Like you won't be an evangelist or Pastor without a God given heart for the souls of people. You won't (or shouldn't) be a teacher without a strong desire to study and reveal God's word. The other thing to remember is that there are all sorts of gifts, some less prominent, but equally needed within the Church. Sometimes we forget some of the things listed as Spirit given gifts in Romans like giving, encouraging, helps, mercy... These are gifts!

Romans 12:4-9 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, (5) so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (6) We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. (7) If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; (8) if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (9) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

So where is your passion when it comes to the Lord? That's a rhetorical question, but it is worth thinking about. But I should add that I've also seen some people get too tied up trying to find their 'gift' and 'place' and it has led to discouragement if they can't find it. That's possible as well but when we just enjoy God and stay open for what He wants, He is perfectly able to make a way for us in the area He wants.

All the best,
Iain.