I’m “Gifted”

11 Jan

I like to tell people that I have a Master’s degree in counseling.  When I’m with Christians, I like to add that my degree is in “biblical counseling” from a seminary.  All this makes me feel terribly important, like I’m super smart and super spiritual…also that I once did something with my life.  As I’ve mentioned before, that counseling degree is sitting at the bottom of a storage bin somewhere in my closet.  I don’t use it vocationally and I sometimes wonder why I got it at all.  I realize that the things I learned in seminary (you know, like humility) do matter and that I don’t need to wear my “I have a Master’s degree” pin all the time.  Or at all.  One day I hope it’ll sink in. 

This week Shari and I started taking a Sunday school class required for Congregational Care at our church.  Caring for the congregation?!  I love caring for people!  I’m awesome at crying!  This will be great, I thought.  For the most part, the Congregational Care Team visits sick people and shut-ins.  My fear of the hospital, hypochondria, and fear of doctors, doesn’t make visiting the ill at all appealing.  And shut-ins?  I feel empathy for shut-ins.  I really do.  But the elderly, especially lonely elderly people, make me very weepy (told you I was awesome at crying) as I remember my grandparents.  Instead of launching happy hormones, I go home and cry. 

But I love caring for people and I’m awesome at crying?!

I *AM* awesome at crying, but do I really love caring for people?!  When my mom had her hip replacement, I was panicked for a month ahead of time.  What if I had to clean up pee?  Or puke?  What if she fell?  I was in a tizzy! 

I really like babies, but not their diapers.  I mean, I’m not sure how to change a diaper (I have the basic principle down, just not a lot of practical experience) and the thought of changing a diaper makes me dry heave.  I am even disgusted by little kids with snotty noses.  (Those of you who are wondering why I don’t have kids now understand.)

Besides crying, I’m really good at talking, too.  I’m probably even better at conversing than crying.  BFF Sarah says that I can talk to anyone anywhere about anything.  I suspect she thinks it’s my superpower.   A simple window transaction at the bank leads to a conversation about the teller’s engagement ring (and the story of the proposal.  I’m such a suck for romance) or a long line is an opportunity to talk to lady behind me about her amazing purse.  (Admittedly, I am a bit shyer around guys, especially ones my age…who are single.  I get all tongue-tied and speak like a woman with verbal Tourette’s.  Those of you who are wondering why I’m not married now understand.)

I also like to laugh.  And smile.  Depression sometimes sucks those attributes out of my life, but they’re important (Choose joy!!!).  One of my favorite quotes from Elf is when Buddy says, “I just like to smile.  Smiling’s my favorite.”

So I’m good at smiling, crying, and talking.  I can do all three at the same time actually.  But where does my spiritual giftedness lie within these personality traits?

My little flock tells me I’m a good Bible study leader and I do love teaching about the Bible and God.

Deep within me, I fear that teaching and perhaps leadership (or shepherding) are my strongest spiritual gifts.  I’m not sure how a woman can use those gifts in the Church today. I’ve been told (even by pastors) that I talk too much and try to take over when there’s no defined leadership (OK, I’ve been told that I try to take over, but I think it’s when there’s a lack of leadership).  I don’t want to believe the lies that women don’t make good teachers or leaders.  But I’m also not going to head up MOPS (lack of mothering and a pre-schooler), a bake sale, or speak at Women of Faith (for these reasons)…so what am I to do?  I’m asking God where my gifts would be best used. 

I thought by the time I turned 31 I’d have it all figured out, which is funny because I totally thought I had everything figured out when I was 23 (until I realized I was terribly wrong).  Still, at 31, I didn’t think I would still wrestle with that age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” 

My answer: Whatever you want me to be, Abba.  My life is Yours.

What are your spiritual gifts?  What do you do when you realize what gives you joy is the hard thing to do?  How has God used your gift for His glory?   Are you good at talking to single guys or gals your age?  Is one of your gifts being good at wrapping Christmas or birthday presents?

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5 Responses to “I’m “Gifted””

  1. Shannon January 11, 2012 at 4:42 PM #

    I’m still figuring it out Amy. I’ve been in Youth Ministry pretty much my whole adult life and all my college education (including one of those fancy Master Degrees) is in Communication. I don’t know if I’m where I should be or not. I know I’m a little tired and more than a little restless. However I’m seeing success where I am….mmmm….

    It’s an odd place to be in life….plus at 32 I thought I’d be grown up too 😉

  2. Stephanie Scott January 11, 2012 at 5:18 PM #

    A lot of churches don’t put restrictions on women in leadership, which I believe it’s how it should be. I think a lot of that is based on patriarcal culture and less on the bible. but that’s another story. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you need to be taking care of babies in the nursery at church to serve. There’s lots potentially for you to do, it’s more a matter of how your existing leadership handles it.

    I’m part of a non-denominational church that does not stick to strict ideals of men and women’s leadership roles, so it’s hard for me understand sometimes that some churches still function that way. Do you have small group bible studies? Can you lead one?

  3. Amy January 11, 2012 at 5:43 PM #

    Shannon, I’m sure you are great at what you do! But I will pray that God gives you clarity.

    Stephanie, the church I am now attending is United Methodist and the conference bishop is a woman, though she’s leaving the office in a few months to pastor a church in Western Pennsylvania. There are a lot of women on staff, and not just in traditional roles (which I’m not knocking! I think that those women are AMAZING!!!) However, this is an area I haven’t felt comfortable in because of my past church experiences.

    I actually lead a Bible study (“my little flock”) and don’t feel God’s leading to lead another one at this time–at least for adults (maybe teen girls?). I do feel led to mentoring as well. But beyond that, I’m not sure what to do. I do feel that it would be helpful to have a strong female leader as a mentor if these are my spiritual gifts…so I’m praying for that.

    Thank you both for your comments, encouragement, and honesty!

  4. Donna January 11, 2012 at 8:55 PM #

    Perhaps if you conquered the Tourettes around guys your age you might have the opportunity to learn to change diapers!

  5. Richard Matson-Daley January 14, 2012 at 6:23 PM #

    Personally, I’m of the mind that if your spiritual gifts are in teaching and leading, then you should do that, regardless of gender.

    That being said, I think the combination of Leading/Teaching, your ability to reach out to strangers, your empathy would make you a great Youth/College Pastor, small/life groups leader, or a “Connections” pastor.

    I’m still wrestling with the “what do I want to be when I grow up” question and I’m also 31 so… yeah. I think for me, part of the problem is figuring out how my perceived strengths turn into “marketable” career/ministry skills.

    Also, I think the whole “taking over when there isn’t defined leadership” is also a strength (one that more people should have).

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