Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ability or Desire?

Just today, I was confronted with a question that I've thought about before, but this time I started to wonder about it in a slightly different light. First, I've always thought of myself in many ways, as someone who has abilities in a lot of different areas. I've often found myself good at a lot of things, but not particularly great at many - if any. At different times in my life I decided to eliminate some areas of my involvement in order to focus on others, hoping this would not only simplify my life and giving me more time to breath, but also allowing me to get better, dare I say become great, in the remaining areas.

Fast forward to today, where I'm a pastor over a number of different areas which require varying degrees of leadership gifts and talents. As I've been kicking the tires on Bill Hybel's Courageous Leadership, I had some trouble thinking of the areas of leadership that I truly had gifts in and those that I didn't - weren't these titles somewhat arbitrary? Do they fit everyone? And then I had an encounter the other day where I was challenged to have more obvious ownership over some things, and I saw how some people have such intricate systems of administration - obvious evidence of this kind of leadership. And on top of that, I was confronted with the premise in Hybels' book, that leaders make decisions based on values and decisions they've made over time, increasing their abilities to be "right"... and the wheels for me continued to turn - maybe, I'm simply not a details guy. Or is it that I don't want to be a details guy, and so I slack off in this area sometimes and it's a liability because of my desire? Which is it?

The question, for me, strikes at the heart of two things. First, if there is an issue of desire, then I am not making the most of the gifts and talents I have. I am not living up to the potential I possess and dishonoring God in my ministry. Second, if there is an issue of ability, then this goes straight to the heart of where God, presumably, will lead in the future. And six months into my first pastorate is not exactly the right time to be thinking about "the future" - but I admit that it's something I do. Not that I'm looking for anything - I just had a conversation with a family, sharing that I think it's abhorrent for pastors to be like College Football & Basketball coaches (and not that good for them either) with their resumes out and always with an eye for the next gig. But I admit that one of the reasons I'm here at Liberty is the opportunity to learn and prepare, for a call down the road where I may have to answer all the big questions myself.

Anyway, these were the thoughts swimming through my brain just now and I wanted to get them down and out. I desperately want to be a good steward of my gifts and talents, not wasting them but developing them. But the question I find myself asking is whether I actually have some of these gifts or not, and if not, should I be seeking to develop them, or instead, seeking to find people who have these gifts and I can delegate duties to - increasing the ownership of our shared ministry together. If anyone reading this has any insight or personal experience, I'd love to hear...


David Hallgren said...

Hi Don,
I think that in our culture we are always "preparing" for the next thing, instead of doing well what is at hand. God asks, calls, us to do what is at hand for his glory. I am learning this as I am pretty much doing my dream job. I work as a pastor doing relational ministry in a great church. I don't have all of the trappings of administration that usually go with being a pastor in a large corporate place. But...I do feel the pull to look at what is ahead. Really what is ahead will take care of itself. And it will be taken care in a great way, if I can serve wholeheartedly now and learn what comes my way in the process. Honestly, I have worked for a long time to be where I am at. I don't really want to be somewhere else and I trust that God has called me here, prepared me to be here and prepared the church to be with me. Now, my challenge is to live into my calling and wholeheartedly minister. And take whatever God brings my way. That will remain the most difficult thing for any of us to do. And it is exactly what we need to do to model a faithful life to those in our congregations.
I will pray for you, and Liberty as you live into the calling that God has for you.

Don said...

David - thanks, and love the wacky profile.

Those are great thoughts and I definitely want to be present in this place and to these people. My biggest question is whether the areas of my weakness are areas I need to shore up personally (probably) or whether these are marks of where I should be giving these over to others who already have gifts in them.

I hope I didn't misrepresent myself about how I'm feeling here though. I'm so glad I'm here and excited about the present and future ministry opportunities here. I recognize that the grass usually looks greener because the light reflects differently, depending on where you're standing. And when you're standing on top, it usually doesn't look as bright!

Roodman said...

Don- I don't reply enough to your great posts. Your post reached me because I feel the same way. Ok at many things and not particularly great at any. God made many of us to be that way because he enjoys moving us into many different situations. I think I would rather be the way I am. Sure it would be good to be amazing at one thing but I know at this point it'll never happen.

Thanks for being ok you

Don said...

Thanks Lars. I guess this means - I'm ok and you're ok...

I know I certainly enjoy having my hand in a lot of jars of cookies - it's always exciting with no day the same.

David Hallgren said...

umm...yeah. In my serious post, I forgot to comment on the picture. Is it a style magazine? Because that would be awesome.

Don said...

Why yes, David, I believe Style Magazine is some kind of Men's Fashion Magazine... I probably need a subscription for Christmas!