With more than ¾ through the year complete you’ve had your fair share of events. From Easter to VBS, Bible Studies to Sermon Series you didn’t do it on your own. There are a host of people that help ministry happen. How are those folks doing? Are your people thriving? Or just doing their duty?
There’s a big difference
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Part of the difference is what we see in the quality of the work: people do better when they’re serving in their area of giftedness rather than when they’re just doing what you told them needs to be done.
Another part of the difference is the rate of burnout. People can serve for a while just because the work needs doing, but they burn out quickly when their service doesn’t stem from their God-given gifts.
If you’d like to stop the high turnover in your volunteer positions, spiritual gifts is the place to start. Make sure you carefully match people with positions they care about, they are good at, and they are invested in. That means taking the time to talk with them, watch them in ministry, and see what they care about before slotting them into any empty role they’re willing to take.
Lydia: A Case Study
On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed. (Acts 16:13-15)
What do we know about Lydia? She lived in Philippi, where she was a prominent businesswoman. She worshipped God, and was down by the riverbank at a place of prayer when Paul found her. When she listened to the message, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She must have been a woman of some influence to bring her whole household along to be baptized.
And here’s the point I want to underscore regarding spiritual gifts: What is the very first thing she does upon conversion and baptism? She asked Paul and his companions to be guests at her home. And she didn’t just ask: she insisted until they agreed.
What do you imagine was Lydia’s spiritual gift? Yes, hospitality. We see this gift at work again later in the same chapter when Paul and Silas were just released from jail:
When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town. (Acts 16:40)
Lydia was changed when she responded to the message of Jesus and she naturally—and immediately—started using the gift she had. She was thriving when using her gift of hospitality.
A Natural Response
When people serve out of their gifts, it’s a natural response to what God has done for them. They barely have to think about it. They want to do it. And they are thriving when living and giving out of their giftedness. When people’s hearts are changed, and they’re experiencing the joy of God, serving in alignment with giftedness is a joy, not a duty.
Consider the Greek words—all sharing the same root: grace (Charis) – gift (Charisma) – joy (Chara). This connection results in joy, not obligation.
Isn’t this what you want for your people? Isn’t this the kind of warmth you want others to experience as they enter your church for the first time? Serving out of joy rather than obligation? The starting point is spiritual gifts.
Leading Gift Utilization
You need help and it’s tempting to put warm bodies where they are needed. Sometimes its necessary but that will do more harm than good in the long run. Plan for a thriving community instead.
Reflect on these questions to help people grow and walk in their giftedness:
- How are you helping people discover their gifts? What process do you have?
- How do you place people in ministry positions?
- What happens when a person’s gifts don’t align with an open volunteer role?
- How do you support volunteers as they serve?
- What do you do when they don’t seem to be flourishing in their roles?
Helping People Develop Their Gifts– If you want to learn more on gift utilization, check out this blog post.
Two Common Abuses of Spiritual Gifts- You have a process for gift utilization in place but you’re not getting the results you’re looking for. Here are 2 ways it might have gone wrong.
Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash
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