I recently chatted with a young staff wife about her obvious gift of leadership. Her husband and staff leaders confirmed that, indeed, she was gifted as such. She was concerned that she might miss using her “voice” in her present situation and location. She was not sure how her gifts might ever be used. And, I could tell there was apprehension that she might miss some really great opportunities. I remembered when I was younger and felt this same angst.
There were times over the years when I felt left out or forgotten when it came to leadership responsibilities or opportunities that were being doled out. Once I was invited to an international meeting at the Glen. At this meeting I would be rubbing shoulders with Navigator staff leaders from around the world. Wow! I was excited and honored. But when I realized the overall cost this would have on me and our family I had to say “no.” I said “no” trusting that God would honor my decision and that He would remember me in the future. I feared never being asked to anything again!
There were three lies that I was tempted to believe:
- I have a right not only to use my gifts, but dictate when and how I use my gifts.
This thinking leads to anxiety: My gifts must be used! How can I get them used? At the core of this thinking is the lie that “My gifts belong to me!” And even more deeply, “My gifts are there for me to use to further my career in The Navigators or elsewhere.” The truth about any gift God has given me, whether the gift of ‘leadership’ or ‘helps’, means that I must humbly rely upon Him as to when, where and with whom I might use it. His spiritual gifts in me are given that I might glorify Him and build up the body of Christ! (Ephesians 4:11-13)
- If I say “no” to an opportunity then I will never be asked again.
This second lie I fought against would arise when, due to other priorities in my life, I had to say “no.” Self-protective logic says that my “no” meant that I was forsaking future opportunities. The lie that I believed was, “If I do not say ‘yes’ to this I will be forgotten or looked on as ‘not interested’ and never asked again!” The truth of the matter is this: If my gifts come from God and belong to God He will not forget me. He has given me these gifts for building His kingdom. He will see that my name is brought to the fore at the table of discussion for roles and responsibilities as it pleases Him. Isaiah 49:15 says,
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child
she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
Could you ever forget your child? The scripture says, “Yes, it is possible that we might” and that seems absurd. But the point is that GOD will never forget us! This aims right at the heart of a fear that believes, “I will be forgotten next time they are looking for or want (fill in the blank).” Spiritual logic that is rooted in faith says, “God gave me the gifts I have. It is up to God to use my gifts when, where and how He will best be glorified.” When I fully embrace this truth I can rest in Him and His timing!
- I must make my desires known and expect action!
Perhaps you are wondering, “What if I know I am gifted and have the time and capacity but I am not being asked to use those gifts? Our male counterparts experience this too, and just like for them, this awareness also requires a posture of faith! If we know of a specific opportunity or even have an idea of a pertinent way we might contribute, we can approach those who are supervising us and dialogue over possibilities. What is important here is that we approach those who oversee with a posture of humility. I once felt the Lord leading me to engage in conversation with certain leaders about a role I desired and knew I could fulfill. Their response was basically, “no.” In retrospect, God had better things for me to do! But, their response forced me to sit with God, examine my heart and let Him lead me through prayer and His Word. Though hearing “no” is never particularly delightful it can prove to be a rich experience!
Using our spiritual gifts is an act of faith and service. Our gifts are not there for us but for the building up of His church. It requires wisdom and humility as we sincerely trust God and those supervising us for opportunities to serve. It requires that we trust that God will not forget us, ever! Ultimately, it requires that we pray fervently, entrust ourselves to our Heavenly Father, and wait upon Him.
As I listened to the young staff wife I mentioned earlier I could see that she has much to offer The Navigators. My prayer for her and all of the mighty gifted women rising up in The Navigator world today is that each will humbly and wisely serve Jesus in such a way that will truly advance the Gospel to the nations!
Grandma “D” and Tom have been on staff with The Navs for over 30 years and married 43 years. They are blessed with 3 married children and 7 grandchildren. Tom and Dana rejoined and embeded with the U.S. Collegiate Mission this year. They are excited to have the opportunity to interact with so many staff of such high caliber!