Excavating Accidentally Buried Talents

"All meat, no parsley."
I've never been labeled a carnivore, but I love that phrase. It describes my thinking, and why I don't like reading most blogs - or writing them very often.

The metaphor was uttered at Prism :: Gifts, an event I attended yesterday for women wanting to discover their spiritual gifts and how to use them. It was glorious in the way spending a day with open-hearted sisters who want to be real and effective is glorious. There were tears and dancing and cake pops, and writing this now makes it sound like a bizarro lovefest adorned with pink flowers. But being in it - participating in the prayers that spoke life and redirected lives, listening to women share how having their voices silenced has caused them now to speak truth all the louder - was no ladies' tea party.

I have long been an advocate for knowing and applying one's gifts, and my dad taught courses in it when he was a pastor. The problem is that not everyone has caught the vision cast by God via Paul in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. A lot of churches I've been in seem to have viewed spiritual gifts as an afterthought, a luxury to dabble in once all the volunteer spots are filled with whomever is available regardless of their holy wiring.

And that is likely why I fell into doing all kinds of ministries for which I was not suited. I wanted to obey the instructions in the Bible to serve, so I volunteered wherever I was able. It was good to give, yes, but what I didn't realize is that I was called to serve using the gifts He had given me. Plus, I had gotten pretty good at thinking I could do anything if I needed to (we codependents are adorably delusional like that), so I wasn't even sure what my gifts were.

I often tell people, "Don't serve where you aren't gifted. You're taking up the space where the person who has that gift should be, and you'll burn yourself out." But what if you think you are in your gifting? What if you don't realize what it's like to be squarely alive in your unique passion?

The direct answers to those questions for me have been:
1. Take a solid spiritual gifts assessment like this one,
2. Read about your results,
3. Talk to people who know about spiritual gifts for further clarification and equipping, and
4. Get involved in serving with your gift(s).

Which brings me to now. The past few years have involved me confronting the uncomfortable reality that I am a leader. I've used a lot of other gifts to get around it - I'm really good at administration, teaching, and encouraging - but I love to lead when God opens that door. My life resume is replete in every single area with examples of me taking the reigns or emerging from a crowd or going my own direction. Okay, usually just that last one. But then I would turn around and see that people had followed me.

Being a leader is not a popular gift, especially for women, and I was content to simply lead small and avoid the responsibility of more consequential matters.

But "content" is kinda like a swear word to the Spirit - at least, in this context. And my own spirit was growing restless with this arrangement. Those two sentences are probably more related than the period between them would lead you to believe.

What was left for me to do? I owned it. I owned that my Creator designed me to be a leader, to cast visions and unite people. I owned that the other gifts have influenced the type of leader I am, but that I need to step out from behind their protection and allow myself to be unpopular, criticized, and unable to meet the crazy expectations assigned to me. This is how I serve, and by enduring these things I get to be me, energized in my perfect fit. I get to act out Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We closed the event with the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. During the reading, I realized I hadn't intentionally buried my talent; I had simply concealed the controversial parts of it and packaged the rest with other talents to make it more palatable. In doing so, though, I hadn't invested it as well as I could have.

I doubt I'm the only one. In fact, I know I'm not the only one. For starters, the Founder of Prism Women, Renee Ronika, is unapologetically open about her struggle to accept her gift as a prophet. Other women who attended previous events and were present as leaders at this one shared similar stories of discovering and claiming their gifts. The good news: Owning your spiritual gift will cause your life to make more sense. It may not get easier, but knowing this Spirit-infused part of you will provide a sort of bigger-picture mission statement that gives confidence and purpose to each step.

So the parsley is getting tossed, and my plate is now home to a giant rib-eye. Or a pile of lobster tales, which is infinitely more appetizing to me. I don't even know if a giant rib-eye is a thing.

But the parsley is definitely gone.