When I lived in DC, I had the opportunity to learn about myself and grow….A LOT. Honestly speaking, I didn’t have a choice. Part of it is just what happens in DC….and/or being away from home. But a whole lot of it was God and the opportunities He put in front of me. (Even living in DC was something that He had put in front of me.)
For the very first time, I started managing people. And y’all, managing people is not easy. Especially ones who are decades more senior than me and living on the other side of the world. And that was my situation. I had to lean into His wisdom because I was SO.NOT.equipped.
Part of the wisdom that He imparted to me during that season came through the Leadership Development Program at the Center for Creative Leadership and the SHAPE assessment and subsequent workshop that I participated in at the church that I was attending. Both of these opportunities (and many more at the time and many many many more since) helped me understand myself, understand people and understand how to empower others to use the gifts that He has given them. I’m innately a servant leader because that’s how I’m built, but these opportunities let me really develop that talent and the spiritual gifts that He’s blessed me with.
You may be wondering…. what in the world is a spiritual gift? Quite plainly put, it’s a talent that the Holy Spirit makes you able to execute. Teaching, prophesy, pastoring, hospitality, leading, serving, encouraging. Just a few examples. (For more see Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Peter 4 and Romans 12).
My biggest takeaway from that season of my life? I am not God’s gift to humanity. (I probably should have gotten that lesson a little sooner in life.) I do not possess every single spiritual gift. The only human being who did was Jesus. And He WAS quite literally God’s gift to humanity. I am but one part of a whole on this planet, on a team, in a ministry. Which means, it takes others to accomplish His plans. And to do that, we have to execute on our own gifts and play well with others in the sandbox, because they also have their own unique gifts.
There are 60 pastors on staff at ServeTrust. 60! The number still blows my mind. We don’t even have that many at Forest Hill and we are a big church.
But ServeTrust and its impact is huge in scale (and low in budget). Once a month, all of these pastors come together in a central location to worship, learn and encourage each other. Each of them is so unique.
One of my responsibilities on the serve team was to take their portraits. So I got to interact with each and every one of the pastors. I got to look them straight in their eyes and attempt to make them smile. (Smiling in photos in India is not typical.) What a blessing. They each had a different way about them. But they all had something in common. They wanted to be photographed with their bibles. Every.single.one.of.them.
Leena knows each of these pastors so well. She knows their gifts. And she empowers them to use their gifts. Enabling them to use their gifts multiplies the work that they are doing because it means they are walking closer in step with the Spirit. Leena’s gift is leadership. She exudes presence. And yet she exudes it with the greatest humility, assigning all of the credit of work and salvations to the pastors and the Holy Spirit.
Of these 60….. there is a praise team. A discipleship team. A hospitality team. A baptism team. They may not be formal teams in the sense that we think of teams, but those with the associated ‘gifts’ are those running each of these ‘teams’.
On one of our last days, three local young women and Caroline, who was part of our serve team, were baptized in the Indian Ocean. The whole thing was the biggest production. It puts our pool-dunking baptisms to shame. 🙂 We paraded from the church to the ocean, through the village….. singing, dancing and shouting proclamations of joy. (I’m sure a video of me that day will make its appearance on YouTube some day.) Each of the 60 pastors was there and had his/her role. It was an incredible production – all put together and executed for His glory.
Sometimes it takes a while for us to get to know our gifts and appreciate them in others. But when we do find them and intimately get to know them, oh man….how powerful they are in glorifying Him. We are not called to do this life alone. We are called to do it together. And what an orchestra and production it can be when we are all in step with the Spirit and each other.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.