“No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.” John 3:27
I was sitting in church the other day when the pastor read this verse from John. Naturally, I respected his sermon by immediately tuning him out and writing my own notes. As most of you know, there are usually two sermons we hear on Sunday—the one the pastor preaches, and the one we preach to ourselves on the way home. For my own rude reasons, I didn’t even wait to get into the car before I was preaching to myself.
For me, the dilemma isn’t that I don’t know my assignment, but how to say no to those things I know are close to my assignment. For example, I know my God-given gift is to teach Scripture, but that’s a very broad canvas, so I’ll focus it. My gift is to teach Scripture to believers. That’s better, but let’s focus it further. My gift is to teach Scripture to adult believers. Ahh, that’s even better. But let’s go a step further. My gift is to teach Scripture to adult believers who have a passion to become sold-out disciples of Jesus of Nazareth.
Because I understand my gifts, I don’t have to say “Yes” to teaching children’s church or the invitation to be a youth minister. I’m not interested in going to China as a missionary, starting an inner-city work, or teaching social studies in the local middle school. Those are all close, but not close enough. Knowing my assignment means I can say “No” to those things that are not my heavenly gifts. It is easy to see God did not gift me to play linebacker in the NFL or dunk basketballs in the NBA; God gifted me to teach His word.
(For some reason, whenever I’ve noted my limited athletic skills to any group of Christians, I can always count on the one Biblically knowledgeable yet spiritually ignorant individually who will point to a short basketball player or a small football player who are making it professionally and remind me that, “We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.” So I remind them that is true, but if since I have not been strengthened to slam-dunk a basketball, I don’t waste my time comparing myself with Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.)
Knowing my assignment also enables me to let go of those areas that I have no authority in. I know of a lady who felt led to pray over a certain fault line in California. When a big earthquake did hit, a friend called her and asked if she was falling down on the job. She replied, “That was not my patient.” In other words, it was not her assignment. Her fault line held steady.
I like that. Do I know my assignment? Am I holding steady regarding my gifts? Or, am I trying to do something I have not been gifted for because I think I need to be doing everything that comes my way?
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). When I remain in Him and focus on the heavenly gifts He has given me, I will bear much fruit. But if I step out into things that are not my gifts, I will find myself apart from God and will not be able to do those things He has called me to.
There is actually a lot of freedom in this knowledge. It means I can let go of directing the universe, release my fellow church members to be minister differently than me, rejoice that all the gifts are available for the Church to use, and take pride and joy in completing my assigned task. Whew! And there for a while I thought the success of the Gospel message in my town depended entirely on me.
What? And you never did?
Previously posted Aug. ’09
A powerful post! Knowing my assignment–Draw near to God & He will reveal it everytime. Sometimes my assignment is to sit, sometimes to walk, and other times to run.
Interesting post, but in all honesty, a self serving one.
What you feel is your assignment is directed to something “you” want to do.
Like Oskar Schindler for example. He was called upon in his mind to be a great industrialist and womanizer.
However his “greatness” became apparent when he was called upon to do something he did not want to do at first, protect a bunch of Jews who had no recourse but look to him for a way out of the death machine.
Good to see you back. But in all honesty, you miss the point of the article. I feel my assignment is something I’m gifted to do by God, which frees me from doing those things I’ve often felt pressured to do when I know they are not my assignment from God. Furthermore, Schindler never had a call from God to be either a womanizer or an industrialist. He bedded many women but failed at both marriage and industry. Many Jews kept him going financially for years after WWII because he was never again successful. Perhaps his real talent was to find ways of protecting people.
Once again, good to have you back in the discussion.
See, there you go, it is in black and white and people misinterpret the motivation behind your words.
Thanks for the response.
We speak and write in English. There are times I wrote things that people did not “get” what I was attempting to say.
Communication is a tough thing to accomplish, even in the same language. We see it happening all the time.
Anyway, no insult intended and I do not believe you took it that way. 🙂
I’ve never taken offense at your comments. You have too much passion and, from what I can tell just from your writing, too much integrity to say something mean or in condescension. Therefore, you ask no insulting questions of me, nor have you made any to me. You may insult silly people in your blog, but you’ve never been that way to me. And, if I may add one more thing, I think that deep down you have an appreciation for the true God you know is among us. Much pain and disappointment from established religion has tarnished His image, but the reality of His Presence is something you long for and seek. Therefore I say to you, “Keep seeking the real God. He is there and He is not silent.” Although I understand how hard it can be to recognize Him through all the people who claim to be His spokesperson!
“I think that deep down you have an appreciation for the true God you know is among us. Much pain and disappointment from established religion has tarnished His image, but the reality of His Presence is something you long for and seek. Therefore I say to you, “Keep seeking the real God. He is there and He is not silent.” Although I understand how hard it can be to recognize Him through all the people who claim to be His spokesperson”
WOW – THAT was powerful too.
There is a blog entry in the wings right there.
I appreciate your work, brother.
Ich and I have been exchanging comments for a few months now. We respectfully disagree on a number of items, but we admire each others integrity and, though we don’t see eye to eye on some key issues, we’d still have a great time talking about life over dinner. However, what I said to him applies to many people who want a deep and true relationship with the loving God they believe exists, but don’t quite know how to access Him without going through the local church. Unfortunately, God has set it up so that the local assembly of believers is a primary way of knowing and encountering God, for God works mostly through people. Sinning, selfish, sick and struggling disciples of Christ they may be, but they remain the pearl of great price and the treasure in the field He died for nonetheless.