The ability to use your gifts is the third step for reaching your full potential.
This involves a number of steps, and Pastor Darin explores in this message, starting with recognising what gifts God has placed in your life. And yes, believe it or not,m God placed special, unique gifts into your life from before you were born!
In this series we are looking at how you can reach your full potential in Christ. I know most of you here are not content to just sit and cruise through life, but want to make a tangible and profound difference for Christ in the lives of those around you.
The question is, how do you do it? How can you become everything you long to be and fully realise the potential God has placed within you?
The first essential was to have a clean heart. We discovered that without obedience on your part, God will not fully open your potential. The second essential was to have a clear mind, the mind of Christ. We saw that without this, you will not make the wise, God centred decisions you need to make to move towards your full potential.
Now concerning these two, I recently read this…
The partially surrendered life may be Christian in spirit, but it is secular in practice. It may save one’s soul, but it hardly leaves a noticeable ripple on one’s lifestyle, life view, or the world and culture in which we live. Of what earthly value is Christianity if it leaves no indelible mark on one’s lifestyle? (Patrick Morley)
The third essential we will explore today, and this is use your gifts and talents.
Use Your Gifts
God has given every one of us gifts, and our task is to place them at His feet and learn how to hone and develop them. That's why we have 201, and I am committed as a pastor to helping and allowing you to develop the talents God has placed in your life. What happens is that, in the right environment like this church, God takes your natural talent and develops it into an amazing spiritual gift.
I am often asked when we do 201 about the difference between a natural gift and a spiritual one. Thing is, there's a fair degree of overlap between them, and out of your natural talents and loves usually grows an incredible spiritual gift.
So what has God gifted you to do? Are you functioning in and developing your gifts? Are you worshipping God by reaching for your full potential in those gifts, or maybe trying to use gifts you don't have?
YOU ARE UNIQUE
God made you unique, one of a kind. He has crafted unique abilities and talents into you. He gave you tools to bless others, unique gifts bestowed upon you from before time began, to allow you to function as only you can function in the unique role He has for you.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
But some folks want what others have got. Some have been given tools to reach their potential, but they want something different. Some have been gifted as a screwdriver, but they want to saw things. Some are drills, but they want to paint.
If you are to reach your full potential, you must discover and begin to develop the God given gifts the Lord has lovingly placed within you. You might want to sing Iike a nightingale, but if everyone else thinks you sound like a gail in the night, you need to think again!
All around us people are doing things with good intentions that God never asked them to do. They strive to what their parents wanted, what some well meaning person recommended, what the pastor asked them to do or what needed to be done and no one else would do. They are trying to succeed outside of what God has called them to do. They are square pegs in round holes. Faithful? Yes. Committed? Absolutely. Fulfilled? Not really. Miserable? If we're honest, yes!
Take a moment to step back and see things from God's perspective. He called you, placed unique gifts and talents within you, and started developing them. He gave you a love for these gifts, and a sense of fulfilment. He wants you to use your gifts. He prepared encounters, people, mentors and even trials and obnoxious people to run up against you and train you to develop and apply these gifts. He opened the way to use the gifts. How do you think He feels when you head off in some other direction applying gifts you don't have, even for the best of intentions.
And I speak especially to myself and leadership in general, especially pastors. We are usually motivated by need, not by people’s gifts. We make people do stuff not because it fulfils them but because we think it needs to be done. We want you to use your gifts, as long as it suits us!
Charles Stanley talks of a minister who loved God and felt called to the ministry. He was a lousy preacher, terrible teacher, hopeless counsellor and an uninspiring leader and his first church fired him. He had no job, no ministry, so a friend who owned a local business asked what he loved to do. The ex pastor replied that he likes numbers, figures and organising people to do specific tasks. The business man employed him as admin assistant, and the man shone, cutting costs and increasing efficiencies. He became chief operating officer, and increased sales 600%. But the man still longed to serve in the church.
One day the pastor of a large church asked the businessman if he knew of any admin pastors. This failed pastor became one of the finest admin pastors in the country, helping hundreds of churches grow substantially and financially, launching dozens of ministries and outreaches and blessing hundreds if thousands of people around the world.
YOUR NATURAL GIFTS
All of us were born with natural gifts and talents. A true natural gifting is present all of your life, but as we grow we often lose sight of these incredible gifts. But God doesn't! He wants you to use your gifts!
1 Corinthians 7:7
But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
Here's some categories of natural gifts…
These are abilities related to your natural body, muscles, coordination, sight, hearing, muscle mass, metabolism, etc. we all have some natural aptitudes. Some are sporty, some are arty, some deep thinkers. It's how God wired you!
Despite what you may sometimes think, everyone has some degree of intelligence. However, most people use only a fraction of the intelligence God has given them.
This is sensing things not visible or imagining things not experienced. We all have some degree of this, right? Ever felt uncomfortable about a situation or person but you're not sure why? Women tend to be good at this.
Some have more than others, but emotions are part of you and shouldn't be denied or discarded. God uses you emotions to move your heart to help others, and to allow you to love others deeply.
You are either male or female. This concept is under attack right now, but it's not a choice or a preference, it's an innate gift. Men and women are wired differently. Those who try to change generally do so ineffectively.
We are all creative in some way, just as God is. You might be good with your hands, with your mind, good with numbers, good at cooking, building, music, telling jokes, organising or studying. These natural abilities often form the basis of our Spiritual gifts, when God takes our natural abilities and applies them to eternal situations.
You might be interested in music, art, sports, cars, photography or flower arranging. Almost always your interests draw you to an avenue of ministry, and that is part of God's plan. Your hobbies often grow into a way to serve the Lord. I know Andy is using his love of growing things to start supporting a ministry in the Philippines. I know music has been my hobby, but also my ministry. My mum loves crafts and she uses it in the church.
8. LIKES AND DISLIKES
Some people love figures, Zac. Some love art, Naomi. Some live to build, Fraser. Our likes and dislikes are often innate, and God uses them to guide us into our full potential.
GOD WEAVES IT ALL TOGETHER
You are unique, you are made that way by God from birth, and you can't change nor should you want to change these things. Don't try and be what you're not, but embrace who you are! The unique, amazing, talented, wonderful you! Yield your heart to Jesus and watch Him build on your natural gifts to create something really special!
And God adds to these even more natural talents or gifts, and He wants you to use your gifts. He adds capacity to some, some can handle more than others. He adds propensity, some are naturally curious, or cautious, or gung ho! He places dreams in your heart and personality traits, some of which are attractive and some are quirky.
He gives you a measure of free will, a measure of determination, and He even gives you a measure of faith that He can develop later into an amazing spiritual gift. Some have gifts of communication, some have gifts of being able to network. These too can become amazing assets to the Kingdom of God.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
In addition, God places you in a generation and a location. Sometimes you might feel like you're in the wrong generation, but God doesn't make mistakes (even if you like music from another era). He has placed you here, on the Coast in this church, and none of it is by accident. I have even witnessed what's called geographical anointing, when the gifts of God and opportunities to use them explode only when you move to a given location (Abraham).
STAY IN THE FLOW OF YOUR TALENTS AND GIFTS
As you grow and develop in Christ from natural to supernatural or spiritual gifts, I encourage you, stay in the flow of your gifts. Know what you love to do, what you're good at doing, and let God develop these talents rather than trying to be someone you're not, whatever the reason. God filled certain people in building the tabernacle…
and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship,
God is actually working to a plan, a grand design that He is weaving you into and through, with your unique talents, gifts, and spiritual gifts. Don't run away from your destiny, don't covet the destinies of others and don't try and do God’s job for Him. Let Him develop you in His way in His timing.
That's why the church is so important. That dream in your heart, my job and calling as a pastor is to give you a lane to run in, the chance to develop your gift and shine for Jesus. Most pastors stick people where they think they're needed, not where they shine. I endeavour not to do this. I have to lay my personal agenda for this church aside and let you reach for the heavens in your gifting to fulfil the destiny that God is calling you to, and that He has been preparing you for since the beginning of time.
And no one is too old, too young, too disabled, too impaired or too hopeless for God to use. No one! BUT, He wants you to use your gifts, but you can be too busy, too distracted or too disobedient!
HOW TO USE YOUR GIFTS
Ok, let's get practical… how do you grow your God given gifts. Here's some suggestions…
1. TEACHING AND TRAINING
2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The fastest way to develop any talent or gift is to get into good teaching or training. There's a difference, and there's a place for both. Teaching is the theory, the facts, the principles, concepts and ideas. It is generally administered in a course, such as University, Bible College or In some of the courses we run here.
Teaching is great, but entirely useless if it stops there. It's just head knowledge.
Training is the application of teaching, often administered in a practical way by mentoring. It tends to be repetitive, disciplined and involves practice to make our talent better. One of the great strengths of cults is that they train, whereas we often teach rather than train.
To grow your gift, fill your life with great teaching and strong trainers. Even better, make sure you are going to a church where they not only allow you to reach for your dreams, but they provide training and teaching to support and grow you fast.
A famous pianist once said, “If I don't practice one day, I know it the second day and the world knows it the third day.” No matter how good you become, or how good you think you are, practice is still an essential way of developing your gift.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Someone with a natural gift for music can become a good musician. But without practice, they will never become a world class musician. Practice grows your gifts, no matter how good you are. Even Jonathon Thirston still practices!
Discipline is often as much about what you don't do as what you do do.
2 Timothy 2:4
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
If you want to grow your gift, make time to practice and pursue it as a matter of urgency. Choose to spend time with leaders who train you, choose to come to church to sit under good teaching, do whatever it takes to make your gift grow into the dream the Lord has given you for your future.
When God places a dream in your heart and a gift within you, there are only 2 ways you can fail… disobedience and giving up.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
So many people come to church, attend for a while, hear something they don't like and leave vowing never to return again. So many go from church to church trying to find the perfect church, not realising that if they find it and join it it will no longer be perfect.
Thing is, there is not perfect church, just lock in and persevere. Sometimes, more often than you might think, I get attacked and don't want to keep coming to church, but I do it and I persevere because I know that is how the Lord grows His gift in my life! And He wants you to use your gifts too!
ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE
THE natural gifts God gives you, the talents He places in you before birth, and all the development He brings to bear in your life can grow your God-given talent into a spiritual gift. But why would you bother to develop your gift? I mean, what's the point?
1 Peter 4:10
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:
God wants you to use your gifts to bless others around you. Spiritual gifts are not for you to enjoy, although if you pursue them wisely you clearly will enjoy them. They are given to build up the body of Christ. When God takes your natural talent and turns it into a spiritual gift He empowers it to impact people's lives.
Take my music, for example. I can sing for many reason, rock it out in clubs or pubs, earn money and record great albums. But when God gets a hold of my gift, suddenly my songs prepare people's hearts for the gospel, or lead people into deeper worship with the Father.
Your gift isn't for you, it's for everyone else. If prayer is your gift, it blesses others. Same with prophecy, it's not for you, and it's not to be used as a club to smash others, it is One of Gods tools to bless His people.
Same with any spiritual gift, if you do it for the Lord there is a special satisfaction. Admin skills used in church bless others and also bless you. Music gifts, prayer, prophecy, teaching, evangelism, there's nothing like using what you have to serve the Lord.
Our gifts are not for us alone, they're to bless others around us. Everybody has gifts to contribute, and here's the thing, the closer you walk with the Lord, the more your gift develops and grows. The more you selflessly serve, the greater you become in the Kingdom, and the more you can use your gifts.
STEPS TO DISCOVERING YOUR GIFTS
1. ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST AS LORD AND SAVIOUR
Have you truly asked Jesus into your heart? Is your sin really forgiven? Do you know for sure that you have eternal life?
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Until you commit your life to Jesus, your natural skills and talents will not develop into world-changing spiritual giftings! Why? If you are unsure of your salvation, if your life with the Lord is murky and obscure, if you don't make Him Lord and keep on indulging in sin, then your gift will not develop properly. Come to Jesus now and see the change in your life and gifts. If you're not absolutely sure of your salvation, get it right starting right now!
2. IMPROVE YOUR SERVE
When we serve, we learn much about ourselves and our gifts, so foster a serving heart and look for opportunities to serve others. In Coast Church, we have great opportunities for all kinds of gifts, from prayer and prophecy to music, teaching, helping others and many more.
Concentrate on serving, not on furthering your own selfish ambitions. If you serve only to get ahead, that's not godly serving! Learn to serve no matter the cost, no matter the recognition and no matter the apparent success. Use your gifts as a tool to serve others!
But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
The fastest way to grow your ministry is to serve a man of God. I saw this with my music. I gave up my own concerts and tours to serve Bill Newman exclusively, and as such have seen incredible blessings and experience amazing wonders.
So if you want to grow your gift, do 201 then find a place to serve the Lord.
3. DON’T TRY TO BE SOMEONE ELSE
God made you, and He made you unique and He loves you and you have something to give back to the people of God. Your unique gift is you. Do not throw that away to be a poor imitation of somebody else. In your gift, don't try and be someone else.
But in your life, imitate mature Christians, sure, as they imitate Christ…
1 Corinthians 11:1
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
4. TRAIN, PRACTICE AND GROW
To develop your gift, make the decision to train and practice as you need to, to see your gift grow the way God wants it to. Get serious about going hard and become the best you can be in your gift.
Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
This means finding those further along the track in your ministry area and get close to them. In fact, pursue them with everything you have! A lot of ministry is caught, not taught, so put yourself in and around gifted people in the church.
Also, stay close to God, because He can lead and guide and train you. I say it all the time, but spend time every day in Prayer and reading the Word. That's how you grow closer to God. And if you grow in the Lord your ministry grows with you!
KNOW YOUR GIFT
As you keep growing closer to the Lord, start to know your gift more intimately. Know what it involves, know what needs to happen to achieve success and especially, know its limitations.
I am really bad at this. I commit to everything, then go hard until I collapse in a heap. After praying about my work load, and after many of you have spoken into my life, and after scriptural confirmation, I have this week decided to pull back on 2 business areas to free up more time in my life and family. Know your limits, folks, and listen to God!
So if you want to reach your full potential for God, know and recognise your gifts, spiritual gifts and natural talents.
My aim as your pastor is to release you into spiritual service, here in the church, out in the marketplace or across the world! I want you to use your gifts, at every opportunity! That's why we want you to do 101 and 201. That's why we want you engaged in church doing what you love for Jesus, serving Him and the body loving Him, loving serving and loving life!
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
But it all starts with asking Jesus into your life, and knowing for sure that you have eternal life. He wants you to use your gifts, so turn to Him now!