The Adventures of Pirate Girl
Pirate Girl reached out receiving the map from her Father’s hand.
“Follow this to find treasure.”
Adventure awaited! She raced to her sailboat!
Heading out to sea, she encountered a flotilla.
Cries of “Help!” filled the air.
She tacked left, picking up as many as she could, then returned to shore.
All day she raced from rafts to shore, rescuing every person she saw.
Utterly exhausted, she dropped off the last refugee. Cries of hunger filled her ears.
A man ran up, “Did you get the treasure? We need it to buy food!”
“No,” The lifeguards grumbled, “She was too busy doing our job.”
The Dark Side of Talents
It is wonderful to rescue people in distress, if that’s what the Lord wants you doing. But if he doesn’t, then doing so can rob you (and others!) by making you unavailable to what He does want you doing. And needlessly wear you out…
Been there, done that, many times!
Welcome to my shadow side. The dark arena of distorted gifts.
What’s the opposite of a weakness? Most people think a strength. But two-thirds of our weaknesses tend to be talents overused, misused or underused. The Lord’s gifts become destructive outside the boundaries He’s laid for them.
Just like Pirate Girl, when my empathy and activator kick into overdrive if I see a need and hear the story behind it, I not only feel deeply for the person affected, I am strongly motivated to help. Faster than a race horse I am out the gate doing what I can, many times without asking Jesus if He wants me to!
I’m learning my talents must be surrendered to the Lord or they can put me six feet under! I need to ask, am I seeing this need because You want me to act on it or so I can pray?
It’s especially difficult to refrain from action when I believe someone needs what I have to offer. All too often this leads me to sacrifice eating and sleeping. Didn’t Jesus say, “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself?”
He did, but we are to deny ourselves whatever gets in the way of following Him. This doesn’t mean daily denying God-given needs! Because my talent of belief means I’m willing to die for what I believe, I need to be careful my beliefs don’t get off track!
Otherwise this results in a packed schedule with little opportunity to think strategically whether I’m using my time wisely. I’m learning I must slow down and take time to process prayerfully with Jesus, but I can’t “just stop it!” I need to dive deep with Jesus considering the lies, wounds and false beliefs fueling the misappropriation of my talents.
Finite Gifts Require Boundaries
Only God is infinite, able to be everywhere, know all and fix anything. He creates each of us in His image, uniquely gifting us to reflect Him in ways no one else can. But these gifts, as well as the time and energy to use them, are finite. There is great purpose in this. Our limits remind us: God is God. We are not.
Remember the bell shape curve from high school science? Every talent the Lord gives possesses boundaries. Too little and you’re disengaged, too much and you end up overwhelmed. When coaching new ministry interns at the end of their first semester many exclaim, “My StrengthsFinder results say I have WOO, finding joy in meeting new people to win them over, but I don’t want to talk to anyone now.”
As they went all out meeting new students, they over-woo’d it!
Signposts & Invitations
Surrendered to the Lord, our weaknesses can become blessings. Imagine if we reframe the stress, frustration and drain we experience due to our limitations and begin seeing them as signposts and invitations in our journey, designed to help us discover the abundance of life Jesus paid dearly to make available.
As signposts they help direct us away from what we were not created to do, so we can creatively search for life-giving ways to do what the Lord calls us to.
They also point to where our thinking and believing may be off.
Even more, in our weakness God’s strength is made evident. When I’m not available due to my limitations this provides prime opportunity for people to experience Him meeting their needs directly and clearly see He is their savior, not me.
Our weaknesses also serve as invitations to a life of interdependence on God as well as others.
No one can do everything. God doesn’t expect us to. He clearly states, “It is not good for man to be alone” and “Apart from me you can do nothing.” We were created to team with God and others! As we grow in better understanding where we are weak, it can help us appreciate and partner with those possessing complementary gifts. We also have blind spots and need others to fill in the gaps in our perspectives.
Following Jesus for Joy!
Like Pirate Girl, my Father has given me specific things He wants me to do. When I do them I get to take part in an epic adventure far bigger than I imagine. The immediate needs I see may not be what God wants me doing. They may be what He wants someone else doing! I need to ask and follow His lead.
As I do, is this surrendered Pirate Girl ever experiencing joy!