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Finding Ourselves

What Is My Gift?

The truth is that your life is a gift from God. The Bible categorically states you are "wonderfully made"-in other words, awesome! In fact, you are "a gift from God" to others , even though you may not feel that way today.

Day to day, you may feel the exact opposite-unloved, unattractive, unpopular, "invisible," hopeless or just plain lost. You may be wondering the familiar questions, "Who am I? Why am I here? What purpose can my life possibly serve? Do I have anything to contribute? Will I ever be happy? What is life all about anyway?"

The good news is that God did not create you as a cosmic joke. Neither are you a "production control oversight!" As Saint Augustine, the greatest teacher/theologian of western Christianity, once declared, "God loves each one of us as if we are His only child." Just as life itself is a gift, God has gifted each one of us in a special way. Often called talents, temperament, or personality, these gifts have multiple purposes:

  • They allow you to contribute to caring for some part of God's creation (family, those in need, community, church, co-workers, animals, the environment, and so on);
  • They allow you to bless others with your gift;
  • They enable you to celebrate the contribution that you make in your world; and.
  • They enhance your enjoyment of God's creation.

Everyone possesses some sort of gift, whether or not it's particularly flashy. Saint Paul, the most prolific author in the Christian New Testament, a Jewish rabbi and the foremost Apostle (follower/teacher) of Jesus, taught that the greatest gift of all is the ability to love each other- in short, to treat people according to the Golden Rule.

Most people, especially children and the elderly, just want someone to pay attention to them, to be attentive and kind, empathic and sympathetic. In other words, they need someone to care enough about them to listen and understand their worlds. If listening, love, compassion, service or patience are your gifts, then you have something powerful to offer almost everyone.

Wisdom literature identifies the desire to encourage others as a wonderful gift. Don't we all need to be encouraged to do better or to overcome life's trials and tribulations? Don't we need someone to tell us to just "hang in there" as Saint Paul said, "Win the race" (of spiritual maturity)? We all need encouragement, motivation, kindness, empathy and support. Because these elements are exercised so rarely, they are some of the most valuable gifts today.

To discover your gift, ask yourself (or family and friends): "What do I really love to do? What gift or trait do I love in others (chances are you share the same gift!)? What am I really good at?"

Share Your Gift

The secret to truly rich living (emotional, spiritual, physical and financial) is to use your God-given gift to help another one of God's creatures.

Many gifts, usually called "talents," are easily identified. These include natural talents in the arts and sciences, the helping professions, business, arts and crafts, parenting, sports and so on. The real question is not what your gift actually is, but whether or not you are using it to enhance or advance God's creation-primarily other people.

If you are in business, are you contributing your time, talent, or money to help others?

If you are an artist or musician , are you using your gift to bless others in your community (in convalescent homes, children's clinics, poverty programs, schools, churches and civic groups, etc.)?

If you are talented in math or reading, telling stories, or appreciating great literature, art or music, have you considered sharing your gift with others (see above examples)? If you love sports or arts and crafts, have you thought about coaching or teaching your neighbor's children?

If you are handy around the car or house, or in the building trades, have you considered helping the elderly or single parents who lack the talent or finances to hire someone like yourself?

Most of us never focus significant attention on our gifts-we're too busy obsessing over our shortcomings! Here's a brief list (and how many more can you add to it?) of often unrecognized gifts that can be of tremendous help to local charities, churches, service clubs, or families:

  • A "teacher "-chances are you're good at something others would like to learn-teach them!
  • A "can-do person" -sets goals, keeps things on target, gets the job done!
  • An "idea person" -contributes creative ideas to add success, value, efficiency or fun.
  • A "facilitator" -is good at communicating, follow-up or follow-through.
  • A "tidy mind" -tracks details, makes sure all forms are filled out correctly and timelines are met, keeps things organized.
  • A "servant-giver" -everyone needs (and loves), a volunteer with a grateful, giving sprit. Every door is open for you!
  • A "problem solver" -has experience, wisdom, a broad perspective, and strong analytical skills to solve challenges, recommend solutions.
  • A "good listener" -listens, empathizes and comforts.
  • A "coach or mentor" -listens, advises and offers valuable feedback based on his or her own wisdom and experience.
  • An "encourager" - everyone needs encouragement, even coaches and mentors!

Whatever talent you may possess, if you really start paying attention to those around you, or read your local daily newspaper, or make a list of all the agency groups, schools, or churches in your city that might need volunteers with your talent-you'll find plenty of places to share your gift. And the more you share it, the better you'll feel.