January 17th, 2021

Using our gifts and skills

By Submitted Article on February 22, 2020.

To be of value

Third of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

If you want to feel you have value, making a positive contribution to society, look at your natural gifts, learned skills, sudden opportunities and common sense.

Gifts and skills indicate direction in the long-term for career and hobbies. Using your common sense with opportunities usually comes unexpectedly. Sometimes, all four knock at one’s door at the same time, demanding vital, quick decisions.

I had several moments like that. I knew what the right choice was, but I hesitated because of secondary considerations. Discussing my options with wise and trusted friends helped me to separate the grain from the chaff and make the right choice. Giving high priority to my own development enabled me later to be of more value to people in need.

Many gifts and skills already become apparent during school years. They emerge as interest and capability and may influence choices for study, training, career and hobbies.

All legal jobs – including that of professionals, technicians, artisans, farmers, labourers, military staff, catering staff, housekeepers, salespeople, service providers and clerical staff – deliver a service to society. By providing in the needs of the public, they are people of value. The fact that they are paid for their services makes their jobs even more meaningful, providing for their families.

Today, there are many opportunities to be of value as an unpaid volunteer. Churches, schools, hospitals, and homes for the elderly gladly make use of volunteers to attend to needs that their paid workers don’t have time for.

Pray for guidance and list your interests, gifts and skills. They will show the way to activities that people need. When you provide in a need, your life has value.

Jesus said that we should not be so absorbed in worries about food, drinks and clothing that we neglect the most important need of all – the spiritual. He urged his followers to seek first the kingdom of God, and the other things will be added to that (Matt. 6:25-34).

The apostle Paul received material support from the church in Philippi more than once (Phil. 4). However, he preferred to work as tentmaker and pay for his own expenses while serving the church afterhours (Acts 18:3, 1 Cor. 4:12).

He did not prescribe this policy for all pastors. As shepherds enjoy the milk of the flock, as vinedressers enjoy the fruit of the vine, as priests eat from the altar, and as soldiers are paid in war, so the Lord has ruled that those who preach the gospel shall live from the gospel (1 Cor. 9).

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not great preachers, but the gospels they wrote were of incalculable value to the church over 20 centuries. They used their gifts and skills to be of value.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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