Character, Calling, and Contribution (Part 3)
The world is comparison crazy! People compare almost every physical quality or material possession. I wish I could tell you the church is exempt from this wicked worldly attribute but unfortunately I can’t. We compare preachers, programs, facilities, congregational size, and the number of multi-site locations.
Paul addressed this very issue in the book of 2 Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV)
For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
God specifically tells us not to compare and rarely does it produce anything beneficial. Besides, God does not consider any of those things when evaluating our life. He does, however, consider a few things when examining our life.
What separates people in the eyes of God? What does He use to evaluate our life?
There are three major markers and they all start with the letter “C”.
Character answers the question, “Who am I?”
Calling answers the question, “Why am I here?”
In this final article, we will address the subject of contribution.
Contribution answer the question, “Who was blessed, changed, and impacted because of my life?”
In Rick Warren’s book, What on Earth Am I Here For?, he makes a very important point about our contribution.
“From the Bible we can surmise that God will ask us two crucial questions: First, “What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?” Second, “What did you do with what I gave you? What did you do with your life — all the gifts, talents, opportunities, energy, relationships, and resources God gave you? Did you spend them on yourself, or did you use them for the purposes God made you for?”
I want us to personally consider a few questions.
1. Whose life is blessed because of my gifts and talents?
1 Peter 4:10 (NCV)
Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.
We all have gifts and God wants us to use them to serve others. Recently, I had the opportunity to help some ministers update their technology. I installed a bible program on their computers and showed them how to use it to search and insert scriptures. I also helped them update their phones and showed them some helpful apps. I am certainly not the most tech savvy guy, but I knew enough to be a blessing and a help. It gave me great joy to do so. If I can improve their life and enhance their ministry, I am grateful. In addition, I have been on the receiving end many times. Every week at our church, gifted and talented people make contributions to help advance the Kingdom of God. Sowing does indeed lead to reaping.
Martin Luther King, Jr. captured the power we each possess to serve others and be great.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Often people don’t recognize the blessing their gifts can be. Once we moved into a new building and it needed a major facelift. A great man in the church was skilled to lay tile. He volunteered to help and made my office and other places in the church look great. God places gifts in different craftsmen in the church to bless them and the Kingdom of God. Painters, gardeners, graphic designers, administrators, web designers, plumbers, and HVAC people can be such a blessing to the Kingdom by using their gifts to advance the church.
Food for Thought
- Is my spouse blessed by my gifts and talents?
- Are my children blessed by my gifts and talents?
- Is my church blessed by my gifts and talents?
- Do I have gifts and talents that no one knows about? Why?
- In what way could I use the gifts and talents that God has given me better?
- Is there anyone thanking me on a regular basis for something I have done?
2. Whose life is blessed because of my love and relationship?
Hebrews 10:24 (NKJV)
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.
There are a multitude of people that have loved me and helped me grow, develop, and fulfill my purpose. I am thankful each one took the time to love me and keep investing in our relationship. I am a better man, Christian, pastor, husband, father, and friend because of the love others have shown.
My wife has taught me more about love and relationship than anyone else. I am so thankful for her patience and support. She has truly been longsuffering at times. I entered marriage selfish and pretty disengaged. My thought was, “Marriage was designed by God to make me happy.” I soon had a rude and unfortunate awakening! I have since come to agree with the question author Gary Thomas raised in his book, Sacred Marriage:
“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”
My wife gave me grace and truth — both of which I needed. The grace made me feel loved and connected. The truth helped me face the reality of who I was, how I thought, and my need for change. Thank God for both.
In addition, a multitude of others have significantly impacted my life. Some people enter your life for a season and others are there for life. I am particularly grateful to three men that have stayed connected, loved me, challenged me, corrected me, and invested in my life. I lovingly refer to them as my human trinity. Obviously, they are not God, but they are three men that God uses to impact my life. Many others have loved me and stayed connected also. I am truly appreciative to all my true friends. The point is we all need love and relationship to survive and thrive. Ignoring or denying our need for others is the same as saying, “I can live without air or food.”
Food for Thought
- Who do you frequently show love to?
- How are you doing maintaining key relationships?
- Have you expressed appreciation for those who have loved you and helped you improve?
- Who is blessed because of your love and relationship?
3. Whose life is blessed because of your generosity?
Proverbs 11:25 (NLT)
The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
The life of a pastor can be very rewarding when you see lives changed by the power of God. This is what drives you and gets your nitrous flowing (for all my Fast and Furious friends). However, it can also be quite challenging. Rick Warren expressed this idea in a funny and very direct way. “Sometimes ministry sucks!” Certainly it can be challenging and draining. We all need time to be refreshed and get replenished. Once, a wonderful couple blessed us with a trip to Hawaii. It was one of the most memorable times of our lives. We were working very hard pastoring the church and needed a break. This couple had grown as a result of being in the church. They were thankful for the Word of God and the ministry they experienced. God moved on their heart and they demonstrated how truly thankful they were. They gave us an unforgettable trip. Words can’t adequately express our appreciation to God and His obedient servants. We were blessed because of their generosity.
Once I was preaching in another state for a friend. I had just started preaching with an iPad and I was really enjoying it. Sometime during my trip, the Lord moved on my heart to give my iPad to the pastor. At first, I thought, “Lord, I just got this iPad.” However, I knew it was the Lord so I gave it with joy. I did tell the Lord, “I am expecting a better one.” The pastor was truly thankful and blessed. He was very excited to start using it and even mentioned that he wanted one. I was grateful to be used by God to bless the man of God. As a side note, just a few weeks later a good friend blessed me with a better Ipad. You just can’t out-give God!
The lyrics from “Thank You” by Ray Boltz are worth keeping in mind.
“Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed.”
“Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am so glad you gave.”
Who is glad you gave?
Food for Thought
- Who was changed because you decided to give?
- Do you give to your spouse and children?
- Do your friends see you as a giver?
- Does your church benefit from your giving?
- Who have you given something material or financial to in the last week?
The Bible is full of people that gave generously and were blessed. Abraham blessed Lot materially and financially. Jacob blessed Esau materially and financially. David gave a huge offering for the construction of the temple. Solomon gave 1,000 burnt offerings. A woman anointed Jesus with what many commentators say was equivalent to a year’s wages for a Roman soldier. A poor widow gave what she had and captured the heart of God. All these are remembered for their generosity.
Who will remember your generosity?
Finally, I encourage you to keep your eyes on what truly matters.
- Your character
- Your calling
- Your contribution
Let’s develop our character.
Let’s fulfill our calling.
Let’s contribute to advance the Kingdom of God and bless others.
Remember, you were born and equipped to make a difference!