Ok, again with the building metaphors this morning. Paul didn't really speak to me, so we'll stick with Solomon and the temple...at least one more day.
When I first started building houses, I took whatever jobs I could get. It didn't matter what it was. My very first official job as a contractor was rebuilding a burnt-out tobacco barn. I literally cut it in half, rebuilt the tops of the walls, built a new roof system, and put on new metal. It was nasty. I stayed dirty from the time I got out of the truck until I left to go home, but I was very thankful to have the work.
After that, I took a few little remodel jobs and stayed relatively busy that first year...room additions, roof jobs, tile jobs, kitchen remodels...anything I could do to pay the bills. Then I got a phone call from a company looking for a framing subcontractor. Turns out they were a little crooked but I didn't know it at the time, so I started framing houses. I found out that I really enjoyed being a framer. I showed up on site to a block foundation and a stack of lumber. I'd get the blueprints out, go to work, and when I got done a couple weeks later, there was a house standing there.
I realized I had found my niche. I absolutely loved framing houses. It was tougher, physically, than the small remodels, and I had to hire more help, but I loved it. It wasn't very long before that became my specialty. If it wasn't new construction, and more especially just framing new construction, I wouldn't mess with it. Why? Because I knew what I was doing and I was good at it. Very good at it. Daddy always said, "If you can do it, it ain't bragging." I could do it.
This morning, I ran across another group who knew their specialty. They did one thing, evidently, but they did it very well. The group was the men of Tyre in Sidon, and what they did well was cutting trees. Not just any trees, but large cedar trees, the Cedars of Lebanon. Solomon wanted those trees for the temple he was building and realized that the men of Tyre were much better at cutting those trees than were his own men, so he made a deal with Hiram, King of Tyre, and all the king's men went to work cutting trees for the temple. You can read more about it in 1 Kings 5.
Now, why did I bring this up? Not just because I miss framing houses (I do sometimes miss framing houses, but my back and shoulders don't). Not just because Hiram's men were better treecutters than Solomon's men. But because I have learned the importance of finding what you do well, and doing it. Nowhere is this more important than in kindom work.
It's easy for me, as a pastor, to try to be good at every aspect of being a pastor. It's easy for my folks to expect that out of me. But the truth is, I'm not good at every aspect of being a pastor, just like most church folk aren't good at every aspect of being church folk. Let me explain... Some people just have better voices than others, God has given them the gift of song. They should sing. Some people are better group leaders. God has given them the gift of leadership. They should lead. Some people are better facilitators. God has given them the ability to lead group discussions. They should teach. Some people are better at more concrete things. God has given them the gift of caring for the building. They should care for the building. Paul does talk about this, sort of, when he talks about gifts of the Spirit.
I'm not very good at administration, I admit that. But God has surrounded me with folks who are, which allows me to focus more time on things that I'm better at. That doesn't mean that I don't need to be able to do administration, it's just not my gift. I have found, that for pastors and for church folk, when we are trying to do something we have not been given the gifts for it only leads to frustration. The men of Tyre were great timber cutters, but I bet they stunk at stone dressing. You see what I'm saying? Find your niche, work with the gifts God has given you, and do what you do well for the kingdom. Whatever it is that you do well, I promise there is some way to use it for the kingdom.
So take some time this week and do a spiritual gifts assessment. Especially if you're feeling frustrated. Talk to your pastor about what you feel you do well, and if your pastor can't find a way to use it, come to me. There is great satisfaction in taking what you already do well, and giving it a new purpose.