Magdi, her fellow Australian cattle dog, plays “shortstop” with Keith as he hits tennis balls her way; starting from a crouch and taking off just in time to stop the ball. She plays “outfielder,” catching fly balls with her mouth that I would have a problem with if I had a giant mitt. She chases a giant exercise ball around the field, pushing it up on her shoulders and balancing it a few seconds as she runs along. If you tell her to bring you a ball, she will. She is ready for play any time you choose, and even when you don’t.
But Chloe? She has no interest in balls. She had much rather sit around chewing on a stick or rolling in the grass. All this exercise stuff is for the birds—or perhaps for less smart dogs?
Then she discovered grasshoppers—the big brown flying kind, as big as small birds. When she happens upon one, she chases it, even as it flies, and leaps into the air to catch it. Then she plops down on the ground immediately and begins crunching. No, she cannot chase balls, and certainly cannot catch high flies, but she can catch big brown grasshoppers just fine. We have noticed that there are fewer of them this year than any other recently.
We all have a gift, a natural ability that God has placed somewhere in all those genes. The trick is to find it. Too many are dissatisfied with the gift they have been given and try to exercise one they do not have. Why? Because, as much as we might talk about humility, we want the flashy gifts that put us in the forefront. A gift for visiting shut-ins and knowing just the right words to say does not garner much attention. Neither does a gift for cleaning—either the meetinghouse or the homes of the sick. But both of those things may make far more difference in someone’s life than whether or not a man can lead the singing well or teach a good class.
Yet song leading and teaching seem to be the most desirable gifts in our estimation. We have forgotten their purpose.
Leading a congregation in a song service is not about choosing songs one likes or that he feels show off his ability. It is about enabling a group to more effectively praise God and edify themselves. A good song leader makes thoughtful selections for the occasion, pitches them so that every part can easily sing, and actually leads so that the group does not bog down in either tempo or pitch.
Teaching a class is not about standing in front of a group and allowing everyone to have their say, like some sort of verbal traffic cop. A teacher should have prepared long enough and hard enough that anything anyone pops out with off the cuff is far less valuable than what he has prepared. It is more edifying to listen to an enlightening and challenging lecture than to hear yet again what everyone says every time a certain subject comes up, things we could write down before they were even said because we have heard them so many times.
So what is your talent, and more to the point, are you willing to use the one you have, instead of the one you wish you had? If I am griping because everyone gets a turn to teach but me, maybe it’s because I am the only one who realizes that I am not any good at it. What I am good at may be far more helpful to my spiritual family.
Chloe has found her niche, and she is happy to fill it. She doesn’t look at Magdi with resentment because we only bat tennis balls for her. She doesn’t run around picking up balls lying on the ground, thinking that is the same thing as catching a thirty foot high fly, nor does she stand there barking at the giant exercise ball as if that makes her its master.
God gives us gifts—all of us. It would be singularly ungrateful not to discover them and use them. He gives them so we can help one another get to Heaven. What if you decide you don’t like yours and someone misses the trip because of you?
For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members have not the same office: so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another. And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith; or serving, let us give ourselves to service; or he that teaches, to his teaching; or he that exhorts, to his exhorting: he that gives, with liberality; he that rules, with diligence; he that shows mercy, with cheerfulness, Rom 12:4-8.