The email sat in my inbox for over a week, each scan of the words accompanied by a quickening of my heart. A sinking sensation gripped the pit of my stomach. Every approach to “reply” had me volleying between cold sweats and bouts of nausea.
“Share your gifting and how you feel called to serve,” glared back at me.
Laying down 700 words in a blog post was like a lazy, summer afternoon compared to the 3 sentences my reply required. For the life of me I could not craft a response that didn’t feel laced with awkward self-promotion and look-at-me spotlight shining.
There is a big part of me that has no desire to be seen.
It’s like a tight rope walk, a tug-of-war between humility and pride. Admitting that I’m gifted feels unbalanced, dishonorable, shameful even. But denying what God has written over my life is equally impossible to navigate. And the prospect of waving a flag or calling attention to my strengths, well…see paragraph 1.
But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed,
and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that day
what has been entrusted to me.
2 Timothy 1:12 ESV
Our skills and abilities that we feel so tempted to hide, aren’t ours to cover up. They are a gift—a deposit entrusted to us for a purpose that is equally not ours to define.
Being ashamed of our gifts, is being ashamed of the Giver.
That conviction has been my undoing. The God I know and love has seen fit to give generously and equip abundantly, and I’ve been about the business of pursuing my own comfort. I’ve been casting shadows and extinguishing flames.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God…
for God gave us a spirit NOT of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:6-7 ESV
God ignites our heart, sets a flame within us to burn bright. And while He doesn’t need our assistance to make our gifts shine, we aren’t passive participants in this exchange. We are called to pursue, cultivate, to stir-up that inner fire.
Our job is to fan the flame, God’s is to keep it burning pure and bright.
What God has given, He is careful to protect. Our fears over pride and self-promotion can be laid to rest when God’s safeguard is at our side. His Spirit empowers us to purpose our gifts for love and engage them with self-control. It’s a beautiful balance, a chain of command orchestrated by a God who never leads us where He hasn’t already made a way.
When our motive is love, our gifts become His glory.
That spirit of fear that whispers shame over us, that cowers us in corners, is not a voice of reason, but rather a father of lies. We have an enemy eager to snuff out all that glorifies God, our gifts included. But the Holy Spirit speaks truth and life, wisdom and purpose. We must choose whom we will obey.
God is the curator of our gifts. We can pursue them with boldness and bravery when our highest goal is His glory. It’s when our success is bathed in praise, not discontent or desire for more, that we can rest assured we’re on the right path.
I’m not eager for the spotlight, but I’m done putting God in the shadows. (Tweet that)
After a dozen re-writes and a few cleansing breaths, that email finally made it to its intended. I can’t say how it was received, but I can say there was freedom on its wings. I won’t apologize for what God has called me to pursue, and neither should you.
We are not purposed for fear or destined for shame. We are called to glory, to power, to everlasting love. Burn bright, friend—fan that flame and shine for God.
You can also find these words linked up at my favorite spots: Holly Barrett (#testimonytuesday), Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory), Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Bonnie Gray (#onewordcoffee), and Kristin Hill Taylor (#threewordwednesday).