20 Minutes or 20 Bucks?

I was thinking the other day about what I would do if someone asked me to give them 20 minutes or $20. The sad truth is I would lean toward giving them the 20 bucks.

I don’t know if your life is like mine but time is actually more valuable to me than money. I work all day and at least four nights a week I am involved in my ministries, as well as on Sundays. It can be a bit overwhelming and time becomes my most valuable and protected resource. I find myself coveting my time more than my checkbook. This is bad but it’s so much easier to write a check and make people go away than to actually spend time with them!

Okay, I’m whining, but there is a point I’m eventually going to make!

Scripture tells us we are to give sacrificially of our time, talents, and treasure. While we are bombarded with “treasure” requests it really is our time and talents that God wants us to use daily. .

If you are a Christian you know that the Bible is about two things: Relationship with God and relationship with each other. That’s it! We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we are to love each other as ourselves. Jesus went a step further and told us we are to love each other the way he loves us – sacrificially. That means giving ourselves for each other. This is where the time and talent piece comes in.

I’m actually lucky – I don’t have any skills! I have a friend at church that has a ton of skills. He can build stuff, fix stuff, design stuff, and do all those “manly” things. Every time I see him he’s volunteering to paint something, build a set for the kids’ play, fix broken pipes, and anything else that requires construction skills! I don’t get asked to do that kind of stuff. In fact, when I joined the Army and took the aptitude test they told me I could do anything in the Army I wanted to do except touch equipment because my score on mechanical ability was so low! Most of the time I’m not even asked to participate in these kinds of things because people know how bad I am at it!

So does that mean I’m off the hook because I really have no skills? Nope, God saw to it that we all have something we can contribute! And this is the key point I want to make. Every one of us has gifts from God that are meant to be shared with others.

I know a lot of churches have walked their congregations through spiritual gifts tests, which is kind of an aptitude test for the various gifts of the spirit (leadership/administration, teaching/preaching, hospitality, serving, mercy, etc….) If you’re interested in that kind of test you can find them for free on the Internet. But I think there is a simpler way to figure out what God has gifted you to do.

Take a piece of paper and a pen and write down the things that come naturally to you. Think broadly. Your list might include things like being a good listener and relating to other people and great work ethic. There are a thousand different things that may be your strengths. Once your list is done take a look at it and see if you can find the pattern or the common thread that connects all these things. God may just reveal to you his plan for you through this simple exercise! One caution – do not discount any of your strengths because you think they are not very important. In and of itself that strength may seem like a little thing, but when combined with your other strengths it is a “force multiplier” and will magnify your abilities!

I actually had to do this exercise about 18 months ago. God was calling me to do more in my life. I was a bit taken aback by His prompting. I whined to him about how little time I had as it was how could He ask me to do more? Then I took my paper and pen out and listed those things that come naturally and things with which I have a lot of experience. The result was God wanted me to write a book! Funny how God works!

I don’t know what God wants you to do, but I do know that you were not put on this earth to wake up, go to work, come home, have dinner, play with the kids, go to bed and repeat five days a week. Philosophers have been asking the “age old” question about what is our purpose for thousands of years. Philosophers are knuckleheads – our purpose is clear: We exist to love God and love each other. We have intellect, emotions, and volition (will) so that we can make decisions to further God’s kingdom on earth by using the skills He has given us for the betterment of our neighbors. You want to have fulfillment in your life? Use your gifts for God and others and He will fill you like you’ve never been filled before!

I’ll admit it – sometimes I have a bad attitude about this. I feel put upon. But when I think about it I know that God gave me a skill that includes me spending my time with others and this is truly a blessing not a burden. And while I am tempted to buy my way out of it sometimes, I know that God expects me to use the gifts He’s given me for His purpose so that I can be considered a good and faithful servant. How about you? Are you using your gifts for God? If not think about how you can engage your time, talents, and treasure in a way that would make God smile!

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