I was recently at a parent’s meeting for one of my children’s athletic teams. No one asked me what I brought to the table, because all I brought was my calendar App, a pen and some blank checks, just like every other parent in attendance.
At a different meeting two nights later—one for the Bible study teachers at my church—each attendee was asked what we brought to the table for the project we were working on. Each person named a strength or specific talent or skill they had. We were all passionate about learning more about the Bible and about teaching it, so we all had an invested interest in the cause, and it was easy for all of us to name a reason why we were there, what we hoped to contribute.
It was important for me to be at both meetings, but one was something I was fired up about, and one was just something I needed to gather information at. How do we embrace our true reflections, shine the lights God has put within us all of the time, not just when we’re in our groove, but when we’re in the every day, in the comings and goings and necessary parts of life?
What if you’re a connector—someone who’s fabulous at introducing people with similar interests or like minds? That’s great at a conference or a retreat or for matchmaking prom dates, but how about when you’re scrubbing the bathrooms or filling up your car with gas? You can’t introduce the toilet to the sink or send a group text to the people at the other pumps. My dear friend, Jamie, is an amazing artist. But how does she apply her artistic talent to bill paying? She can’t paint a check to the car insurance company. Well, I guess she could, but they probably wouldn’t accept it as payment. I believe even in these routine scenarios there are ways to tap into our talents—to make a difference.
We spend a large chunk of our time doing the daily stuff. Miniature golf (much like going to the bank or chopping vegetables) is not any of my family member’s calling. None of us are professional golfers (just like none of us are hoping to win that chopping veggies scholarship). But we all enjoy playing on vacation, and we all bring something different to the course. We all choose a different colored ball, maybe even different lengths of putters. We approach the holes differently. And even though it’s not any of our ultimate games, we all need to bring our best to the game.
In the realm of green Astroturf and blue-colored fountains one of my daughters loves to keep score. She likes to be in control of all things—from where we place family photos on our bookshelves to how we arrange snacks and napkins when company comes over. Being responsible for the scorecard and the pencil allows her to be in control. She also loves to be in the know, and in this role she has constant access to everyone’s standings.
My mom does sound effects. Seriously. She cheers for the hole-in-ones and sympathizes with shots gone awry. Virtually every stroke evokes a “Wow!” or “Ohhh!” or “Uh-oh!” from Mom. If you’re lucky, she’ll shout, “Yippee!” Her energy makes us feel like someone cares about our shots, like it’s worth trying again on the next one.
My golfer son gives advice. “A little to the left.” “You’ll want to hit this one a bit harder than you think.” He understands the engineering of a course and how force and momentum play into each hole. His gentle suggestions give me a place to start and an idea of what I’m supposed to do when I set down my bubble gum pink ball.
My youngest has a sense of wonder. He stops to chase a salamander, picks up a rock to feel the weight of it in his hand, and asks what kind of butterfly just flitted past. The rest of us are mainly playing Putt-Putt, but he helps remind us of the beautiful details around us. Miniature golf is fun, but it’s not necessary and it’s not my passion. But even in the ordinary, God calls us to live fully, all in for Him.
In these normal spaces in life, how do we embrace our true reflections? By doing the same thing we do when we are in our sweet spot—thinking through our strengths and weaknesses, about our unique giftings. Then using our God-given talents in these seemingly uneventful or unimportant spaces. All those things my family did on the Putt Putt course? They do those things in all aspects of their lives. My daughter is an organizer. My mom is a cheerleader. My older son is great at instructing others from helping his younger brother with a math problem to showing his sister some new chords on the guitar. And, my youngest is always ambling down paths, picking up leaves, and noticing things the rest of us fail to see. By bringing their strengths to everything they do, including a family game, they are making the overall experience for everyone better and truly being the best versions of themselves, even in something that’s not a deal breaker or game changer for anyone.
What are the mundane activities in your life? Cleaning out the garage? Going to the doctor? Working the booth at the school carnival? When we’re doing those activities we are still called to give it our all. If you’re a baker, make sure you sign up to bring the snack. If you’re good with numbers collect the checks or run the spreadsheet. If you’re musical keep your iHome handy and play DJ while pitching in.
We have all been gifted. There isn’t a soul alive who hasn’t been. And God calls us to use our gifts to make this world more awesome. But He doesn’t just call us to use these gifts in the magnificent moments to achieve our deepest dreams. He does call us to that, and He calls us strongly. But, God also calls us to use our talents to cheer someone up, move something along, or make an everyday moment extraordinary.
How will you use one of your gifts to make an ordinary thing extraordinary this week? Share with me in the comments below.
Laura L. Smith