I’ve often heard people say, “We have so many talented, capable people in this church, the church can’t help but grow.”

76TrEach time I hear those words, I cringe inside. Not because I don’t believe the church has been gifted with talented people. Most churches have. Many church members are college-educated people who are professionals and even executives. There are nurses and engineers and teachers. And there are creative people: musicians and writers and artists…. And I don’t cringe because I have a problem with gifted and talented people. On the contrary, they can be very delightful people.

I cringe when I hear someone associate the growth of the church with the fact that there are talented people in the church because, although talented people do help churches grow and flourish, our level of talent is far less important than our willingness to allow God to use us. And those who feel they are short on talent, like the widow with her mite, can still be used mightily.

Any time the focus seems to be more on the people with lots of talent, I think about that day on a mountain near the sea of Galilee when five thousand men, probably at least that many women, and a whole lot of children, had followed Jesus with no thought of where they’d eat later. And there was nary a Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s in sight. (John 6:1-14)

If the people had brought food, they’d eaten it hours before. And it was a long, long way home.

Jesus asked Philip, one of the disciples, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (v.5b NIV)

Philip replied that buying bread for everyone was impossible.

Loaves and fishes tinyThen Andrew, another disciple, and the brother of Simon Peter, said, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (v.9 NIV)

Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down. The he took the food, gave thanks to God for it, and broke it, giving food to everyone who was there.

The disciples and the other people were no doubt amazed. But can’t you just see that boy’s eyes growing wider and wider? He had found the courage to offer Andrew a lunch that was barely enough for his own hunger, and now here was Jesus giving food out as if there was no end to it!

After everyone had eaten their fill, the disciples gathered what was left over—exactly twelve large baskets of bread.

The lesson for us? A simple one. It’s not about us, or about what we can do for God.

It’s about him—about what God can do with whatever, large or small, we offer him. It isn’t how capable we are that matters. Nor is it how much money we can spend or how well we can plan. The crux of God’s ability to do something through us rests on our willingness to put aside our pride and our fears and offer everything we have to him.

If he could use one boy’s lunch to feed thousands, then he can use our money and our homes and our talents to perform more miracles. Our part is to recognize that everything we have comes from God, and to let him use it as he chooses.

Let’s never lose sight of three things.
•    Imperfect though we are, God has chosen to work through us—each one of us.
•    The church we’re building belongs to him.
•    Our programs and publicity may draw people in, but God is the one who causes genuine growth.

Let’s step out in faith and give God the glory.

August 9, 2013

About the author 

N. J. Lindquist

N. J. Lindquist is the award-winning author of books, articles, short stories, and blog posts. She also edits and publishes the "Hot Apple Cider" anthologies. A former high school teacher, N. J. co-founded The Word Guild and teaches workshops for writers as well as speaking on various topics including creativity and leadership.

    • Thanks, Glynis.

      Yeah, there’s this little thing about hearing vs doing. So often we know things but don’t get around to applying them. Although I’d say you are a doer!

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