I remember a time when following Jesus felt impossible. I would wake up every day and think to myself, “This is just too hard. I can’t” What I didn’t know at the time was how much I needed community and purpose. I desperately needed a spiritual family and for someone to tell me how I fit into that family.
I needed to belong. I longed to find my purpose.
Fast-forward many years later, through which God moved me forward and filled so many spaces I needed filled. I was standing outside on a dark street, the only light shining from one streetlamp, and she said the words to me that would change everything from that moment forward: “You are an exhorter.”
It was as if someone had placed glasses on my face and for the first time I could see. Areas that had formerly been fuzzy and unfocused suddenly became crystal clear. It all made so much sense. That’s why I do what I do.
That’s why I am motivated to listen to people’s struggles and hangups and fears, one-on-one, just me and them. That’s why I am willing and desirous to offer them encouragement, advice, structure. And why my hope has always been to encourage people to practically apply scripture to their lives.
That’s why watching people choose poorly hurts. Or why seeing people fail to accomplish their God-given purpose stirs my heart to want to do more, to grab them by the arm and say “This is the Way, walk in it…”
I suddenly belonged. And my purpose was to help others discover and walk in theirs.
It was my future mother-in-law who recognized and identified my spiritual gift. She called out into the light what had by hidden many years in the darkness. There, on that quiet street under one streetlight, she forever changed how I would minister to others and moved me from wondering what I was made for to knowing.
Discovering your spiritual gift isn’t a magical cure all for that which ails us. But it does offer hope, instruction, guidance and a framework from which to view yourself and your place within the Kingdom.
Instead of wondering what to do, the discovery of your spiritual gift can tell you not only what to do, but the reason–the very heartbeat–the why behind it.
Your motivation becomes evident. It allows you to filter out the muck that can weigh us down (or those things we really weren’t meant to pursue) and filter in the things that offer life.
I know a lot of people who don’t like to be pigeonholed into one spiritual gift category. They feel as if the label prevents them from being able to minister and serve in all areas and in all ways. But I happen to greatly disagree. If there were ever any one who would reject being labeled, it would be me. My history of questioning the status quo and pushing back against what’s expected has very often trumped the norm, as it were. I have always hated labels.
But, this–this declaration of being an exhorter, is a badge and honor I proudly wear. God Himself hand-selected this gift for me and placed it within me (1 Corinthians 12:11). He chose and who am I to reject a gift from the Father?
I have found for myself and many others that the discovery of your spiritual gift allows you to serve with such greater purpose, intention, and freedom. No one says you can only be one spiritual gift and you can only serve in one way or only serve in one capacity. Knowing actually breaks the doors wide open…
Knowing I am an exhorter has allowed me to love better and answer to the call of Christ in my life more times than had I not known. I’m richer for Him revealing the gift in me, so I can serve Christ with greater purpose.
I belong. And I have faithfully watched Him allow me to encourage and exhort others to their place of belonging, as well. It’s glorious and indeed a gift.