Family Matters: Bloom Where You’re Planted
I’ll never forget my first talent show. I was in fifth grade and could hardly wait to take center stage!
I had a nice singing voice even at that early age (I would later sing several seasons with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Chorus, then go on to perform with the opera chorus for Bizet’s Carmen under the direction of Victor Borge). So, naturally, my parents, teachers, and friends encouraged me to sing a solo for the program.
But in my mind, singing was too common, too boring. I wanted to do something unique, something unexpected, something unforgettable.
So rather than stick with singing, which was something I was good at and felt comfortable doing, I chose to do something for which I had absolutely no talent and looked like a bull in a china closet attempting: gymnastics.
I’d taken gymnastics briefly before, just long enough to tumble in the gym’s Spring Recital. I was the girl performing the routine on the sidelines. My coach singled me out to be a “line leader” so that the rest of the class could watch me—me!—and thereby stay together.
Although it would be several years before I realized it, this was in reality a shameless ploy for getting the tall clumsy redhead out of the lineup. Just so her awkward performance wouldn’t mar the effect of an entire class of pixies cartwheeling, somersaulting, and pirouetting in perfect unison. I was a foot taller than all my classmates and must have outweighed them by at least a factor of two.
A Miserable Failure
Long story short, my tumbling routine at the talent show was a miserable failure. During a back walkover gone wild, I fell into a row of folding chairs. The spectacle made a terrible racket. The emcee closed the curtains on me early, before I could do any further damage to school property, my physical wellbeing, or what was left of my dignity.
Inwardly, I chafed. If only I’d had more time, better lighting, a fancier costume, stronger muscles, a cleverer coach… then I could have been the star of the show.
But God had given me neither the talent nor the body for gymnastics. What He had given me was a gift for music and a beautiful voice. Had I been smart, I would have taken that and run with it.
I’ve met a lot of Christians over the years who’ve held a narrow view of what it means to shine for Jesus. They waste a lot of precious time wishing their circumstances were different or pining for gifts they don’t have while squandering the gifts they do.
“If only I didn’t get so nervous speaking in front of a crowd”. Or, “If I knew how to play an instrument or I could sing on pitch…” Which of course is followed by, “Then I could minister, then I could serve, then I could really praise the Lord properly.”
But we don’t get to choose the gifts we’re given. God does that. We need to run with what we’re given.
God has equipped each of us with unique talents, gifts, and abilities. He’s given us exactly what He wanted us have. Our job is to use His gifts wisely and to bloom where we are planted.
I’ve read that when William Wilberforce first became a Christian, he thought about leaving politics. Providentially, his friend and mentor John Newton urged him to remain in Parliament and to serve God in his public life.
Wilberforce took Newton’s advice and later spearheaded the abolition of slavery in Great Britain. What a great example of making the most of the circumstances in which you find yourself!
Yet that is what every Christian is called to do. To point others to Jesus, right where we are. Whether butcher, a baker, or candlestick maker, we should do our work heartily, as if we were serving the Lord rather than man.
Because, ultimately, that is exactly what we’re doing.
Someday, God may change your circumstances. He may call you to do something that stretches you far beyond your comfort zone.
But until that day comes, you should be using the gifts He’s entrusted to you. They are to bring glory to Him and to serve your fellow man. To make Christ known in your own sphere of influence, however small.
If your gifts aren’t as flashy as the next person’s:
Don’t worry if your gifts aren’t as flashy or your platform as large as the next person’s. Instead, prove yourself a faithful steward over everything you have been given.
Because those gifts you consider ordinary and mundane become heart-stirringly beautiful when you use them as God intended.
The deeper you sink your roots into God’s word, the more those gifts begin to bud and blossom, and the more fruit the Holy Spirit is able to cultivate in your life. Hence, the more grateful you’ll become that God picked for you the gifts He did and planted you right where you are.
Jennifer Flanders still loves to sing. She can also still do a cartwheel, though she looks even more awkward trying it today than she did as a fifth-grader. To read more from this author, please visit http://www.flandersfamily.info