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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

A Reality Check on Using Gifts

The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness by Tim Chester is one of the most refreshingly helpful books I've read I a very long time. I love the bit where he challenges the consumerist approach that is characteristic of much contemporary church ministry, an approach that says, amongst other things, that we need only serve in accordance with our gifting: Jonathan is a Christian worker who has complained of feeling tired and overworked ever since I have known him. I tried working through his priorities with him, but it made no difference. He recently took a 3-month sabbatical because he was worn out. At the end he was still complaining about feeling tired. Now he wants to ‘operate in his gifting’. And, funnily enough, his gifting doesn’t include administration of paperwork. He only wants to do what enjoys. Anything else makes him weary. But that’s the way life is! Sometimes work is energising and exciting. But everyone has irksome responsibilities that make them feel weary. Indeed, for m ost people in the world, their work is mainly drudgery. It is arrogant and selfish to suppose we have a right to do only what energises you when most people spend their lives on factory production lines or bent over in fields. We can’t design perfect working lives because we don’t yet live in a perfect world. Jonathan doesn’t need another sabbatical or a new job. He needs to learn self-control and self-denial. Paul talks about spiritual gifts so we value the diversity in the church. He doesn’t tell individual Christians to identify their gifting and stick to it. He tells Christians to be servants, looking to the interests of others and modelling ourselves on the self-giving of the Cross.

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