“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:4
I suffer from occasional bouts of spiritual gift envy. I have always admired worship leaders. Honestly, I have always admired anyone who can sing. I do not have that gift. Although, in my car with no one else to serve as a witness to the contrary, I’ve got it. Many years ago, I was singing in the car, and one of my favorite Jeremy Camp songs came on, and it felt like I was crushing it. I called my own office and asked for my voicemail to record it, you know – for the future. I remember thinking it would be great. However, when I got to my office, the voice I heard was not familiar. I laughed for an hour. Someone walked by and asked me, “What is that?” Not who, “What?”. Picture a cat being tortured with a fork. That is what I sounded like – at my best. God has blessed me tremendously, but not in that area.
My wife and I traded vehicles this week. I put around 45,000 miles per year on a car, so we can break them in pretty quickly. The one we purchased was not that old, but it was not holding up to the demands. This week was my first trip with the newest member of the family business. Stray from the straight and narrow, an alarm sounds. Get too close to someone, and the car will slow itself down. It did everything but sell policies for me.
My dad was born in 1929. He farmed with mules growing up. He once told me that he was happy when two-row plows came out. He rode a horse 15 miles to work. As I was driving 80 miles per hour, sitting on a leather seat with cold air blowing, I thought about the contrast. We are only one generation apart.
My dad worked harder than anyone I have ever seen. He loaded multiple loads a day with trailers that held around 50,000 pounds of freight. Loaded correctly, 1,000 pounds per foot would pass the scale, all thrown with his two hands. I held a similar job for a while, so I knew the work and enjoyed it then. But he was around 57 when he retired. I am 56, and one load that big would probably kill me.
I started thinking about why I am here. Why is my life like this? I feel truly blessed. But why? It occurred to me that, in my way, maybe I can be a worship leader and not envy others. Perhaps I can encourage you to search your heart. Maybe I can get you to look around your life. Like me, you will find that there are complicated things. There are easy things. There is pain, but there is also laughter. There is love, and there is a purpose.
The difference between my dad pulling tiny implements with a team of mules, and my car is stark. But then I remembered something. When my dad died, my brother and I were in the garage at his house. We found a simple notebook with tasks written in it. He had written down things he had done for people for years. I do not know where that book is now, but to see a 50-year-old record of him was humbling. As it turns out, rather than comparing where he was or what he was doing, he recognized that he was blessed and wanted to be that blessing. That is what I am supposed to do too.
As I was working today, I was commiserating that I had not sold anything, having my pity party of envy again. As I held my pity party about sales, I was working back to an appointment from the day before. Last house, middle of nowhere – I thought I needed to sell this one. What I found at home quickly turned from a potential sale to an appointment more divine in nature. I met a woman who was planning for the funeral of her son later this week. He had been through a long struggle and seemed to be past it. She then told me about her husband, who has Alzheimer’s. We shared stories about my daughter and my dad, and about her son and her husband.
My perspective was restored. Over about an hour, we both laughed, cried, and prayed.
I got the opportunity to help a sister in Christ. As I drove off, I re-thought my God-given day from a different point of view. I have been gifted with a job where I get pieces of paper with names and addresses printed on them. I pay for those, so I am motivated to find them. I could write volumes about how God has placed me in the right spot for someone. Sometimes it is more for me than them.
I do not think that God blows His resources. He gives to us in whatever measure or manner He decides, but not for us to compare. Just like a worship leader’s voice can help us bring our heart into a state of worship, our life can impact someone… maybe for an hour, perhaps for eternity. We can point to the source of the greatest blessing of grace – unmerited salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. There is nothing better on earth we can do than point people in His direction.
Author: Rick Claiborn