Sometimes it seems as though the plate of my life is filled to overflowing with tasks to do and missions to accomplish. It has been my plan to add the word "no" to my vocabulary to slow the pace of life a bit. But like many of the plans in my haversack, it never seems to see the light of day. Each day seemingly brings new things to do and more friends to help.
Why do I end up doing so much? Why can't I find a way to limit my activities? Is this constant motion part of some great plan for my life? Please forgive me for starting this commentary with so many questions. It is just that I have been searching for an answer.
Just when you think that an answer will never appear, poof, it jumps right out of the bushes at you. Some folks call these "oh s--- moments", while others call them "hallelujah moments." In either case, a potential answer for my questions began to appear right in front of me. It was my great fortune to hear an outstanding sermon in church the other day. This is the year when our congregation is celebrating its 150th Anniversary of its founding in 1856. As part of the celebration, guest preachers with a connection to our congregation are coming in to share the Word with us. This sermon to which I make reference was delivered by the Reverend David Dethmers, Coordinator of Mission and Stewardship for the Reformed Church in America.
Reverend Dethmers was the first associate minister in the history of our church when he arrived in 1973. The basis for his sermon came directly from the Book of Matthew. The thought he provided, which stuck with me, is really quite simple indeed. To those who are given much, much is expected. He challenged each of us in the congregation to take stock of ourselves and assess the gifts which God had given to us.
He asked each of us to mentally list those things we believe to be our greatest personal assets. As you might imagine, my pen was busily at work logging my thoughts. It came to me that far too many people in the fire service fail to use the gifts with which they have been entrusted. Worst yet, there are many in positions of leadership who work fulltime to insure that people in their organization never get an opportunity to exercise their God-given talents. In the whole scheme of things, this is really sad.
Reverend Dethmers suggested a three-part method for coming to grips with our own sense of what we possess in the way of gifts. He provided a way in which each of us can become more productive people. In the first place he asked us to identify our gifts. He asked us to be honest. He suggested that this was not a time for inflating our credentials.
He next suggested that we should actually do something with our gifts. This is an excellent point my friends. What good are gifts if we choose never to use them? Sort of like having celestial socks in your drawer from last Christmas and never choosing to wear them.
Then he said something that I just never got around to thinking about. He stated that we must justify our gifts. How should we do this? To whom should we justify them? Why do we have to justify our gifts? These were all questions which swirled around in my head waiting for an answer. Imagine my friends; he wants me to justify what I am good at.
Initially I was not quite sure about what he meant. How in the world could I ever justify what it is that I am good at? Fortunately, his words of explanation were quite simple indeed. He went on to suggest that we must use our gifts to make a difference in the world. What good are riches if they are kept hidden under a mattress in your bedroom? What good is being intelligent if you fail to do anything with what you know? What good is a wealth of talent and ability if it is never used?