A couple of years ago I was telling someone the story of how my wife and I got started ministering to the homeless. The woman listened politely, although her face looked as if she had bitten into a particularly sour lemon. Then she said, "That sounds like a wonderful ministry, but that's not my gift, thank God."
I knew immediately what she meant -- that ministering to the homeless was not her cup of tea. But to hear her pawning that rationalization off on God caused my jaw to drop.
There is no specific gift for ministering to the homeless. But there are many that might lead you that way: Mercy, service and giving come immediately to mind. Since we hold Bible studies for them, that could also involve teaching, evangelism, preaching, missions and encouragement. I lead worship there, so it would bring in music. And we have them over to our house on Sundays, so that would be hospitality.
I hadn't thought much about that incident until this week, when a pastor told his congregation that not everyone has the gift of evangelism (which I believe is true) and therefore not to feel any compunction to tell anyone about Jesus. Instead of feeling guilty about not helping lost souls find Christ, just say "It's not my gift."
To me, that opened up a whole new can of worms. Jesus, in Matthew 28:18-20, told his 11 disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. He didn't say those who didn't have the gift of evangelism were excluded. My impression is that He expected each one of us to use the gifts we have to do our part in the Great Commission.
For example, if my gift is teaching, I don't have to use it only to teach about God and Jesus. I can be a great calculus teacher. But when someone in my classroom needs to know about Jesus, I am compelled to give them the Good News -- even if I must do it using Venn diagrams.
If my gift is mercy, I can simply find people in need and help them. But if someone asks me why I do that, surely I must tell them it is at least in part because my Lord and Savior asks me to.
We know through scripture that the harvest is plenty and the workers are few. What a sad state of affairs it would be if those who are able to run the combines step back in dismay from the whirling machinery and say, "That's not my gift. Thank God."
Al, this is a wonderful message, so to the point. To say, "It's not my gift" sounds like a great cop-out. Like you said, Jesus didn't specify to the disciples that if "they had the gift" they should preach the gospel. He told them to DO IT. And He gave that commission to all of us. We all have the "gift" of speach, so we all can tell people about Jesus and what He has done for us - and them. Thanks for this very good and timely message. God bless you. I haven't found you before, but I am going to put you on my 'tracking' list...Helen
Al, You say it so well. I am broken hearted about “Christians” who pass on the work they could accomplish by saying it is not their gift. May God have mercy on them. Since when are we suppose to do only the things we are gifted in. In all my many years of studying the Bible I can’t fine a single scriptures that tells us to do only the things we are gifted in and nothing else. The truth is that apathy has become a giant in the Church today and many are in the “lukewarm” category. Some will make it into heaven as escaping through a fire with nothing to lie at the feet of Jesus. Thank God for those like you who will carry the load for those like this lady you just described. It is a pleasure to share your burden. Much love!