On day 30, Rick Warren begins explaining how we are made to serve God. He says that each of us is uniquely designed, or SHAPEd to do certain things. SHAPE stands for Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experience. According to him, and I think this is a really good thing to remember, it is not just our spiritual gifts that indicate where we should minister to others, but what we might enjoy doing, our skills, personality, and what we’ve done, seen, and lived.
Are our spiritual gifts the most important part of these variables? Personally, I would say yes. Determining our gifts narrows down the ways to serve pretty quickly. And yet, the other variables are almost as important in determining your ministry, because two people with the same gift might not be happy serving in the exact same place. For instance, one person with the gift of administration might want to serve in a homeless shelter and another with the same gift might want to serve at a school – the first person might be really uncomfortable around kids, while the second might not enjoy working with the homeless. But both ministries are equally as important.
For this day, he talks about the first two letters in SHAPE: spiritual gifts and heart. In discussing spiritual gifts, he points out three very important points. First, every follower of Christ has at least one spiritual gift. Period. Some might have only one, some might have three, some might have five. No person has every single gift, and no believer is without a gift. Second, he addresses two common problems: gift envy and gift projection. “The first occurs when we compare our gifts with others’, feel dissatisfied with what God gave us, and become resentful. The second problem happens when we expect everyone else to have our gifts, do what we are called to do, and feel as passionate about it as we do” (237). Third, our spiritual gifts were given to us to serve others. When some people don’t use their gifts, other people get cheated. I also want to point out that if you or I don’t use our gifts, it makes it that much more difficult for the Body of Christ to function.
Warren says, “The Bible uses the term heart to describe the bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections you have. Your heart represents the source of all your motivations – what you love to do and what you care about most” (237). He also calls heart passion. What motivates you? What drives you? That’s your passion. It’s a really good indicator of where you can use your God-given gifts. God wants us to love and enjoy the ways we serve Him. Ministry shouldn’t be a drudgery, something to get out of the way because you think it’s the right thing to do. Instead, ministry should capture your heart and drive you to laughter and tears. Don’t serve just because you think you should. Serve because it is something you might be interested in doing.
The catch here, at least for me personally, is remembering that not everyone shares my passion for certain things. Taking care of the poor and homeless around the world is really important to me, and many times I get wrapped up in wondering why not everyone is doing something to combat poverty and homelessness. Conversely, there are quite a few people in this world who love ministering to single mothers and helping them take care of their (unborn) children, and they wonder why I’m not doing the same things they are. It’s not that we’re blind to some of these needs, it’s that we each feel passionate about one thing over another.
At first glance, this kind of reasoning seems contradictory to the command we all have to take care of the poor, the widow, and the orphan, but I don’t believe that it really is. The heart and purpose of ministry is about bringing people to God through Jesus, and we minister to people by taking care of their need – not just spiritual, but physical, emotional, and mental needs. Many times, I would say most times, ministry takes place in places where people are in poverty, when we show people the love God has for them by feeding, clothing and taking care of them.