When I graduated high school, I was focused completely on making as much cash as possible before I started college – so I sought a summer job. I had worked at a restaurant in north Fargo (The Shack – incredibly delicious) for my high school career – but it was time for something new. I was well aware that people who did manual labor always had ample hours to work and the draw of working overtime was alluring.
So I found an ad in the paper that was looking to hire people for summer help – specifically, they were looking for roofers.
My dad was a roofer. Sure, he was never in my life and I’d never been on a roof with him (or anyone else) except to jump off into a snow pile. But I figured it was in my blood. I mean – how hard could it be!?!
So I got the job – and went to work on an early Monday morning. I showed up at 8am to find everyone else had already been on the job site for at least an hour. I looked for my boss – and he quickly gave me my job assignment: take a pitch fork and pull up old shingles (4 deep). This seemed easy and remedial at first glance – and so I climbed up the ladder to the rooftop – which I believe was at a 75 degree angle if my memory serves me right.
I’ve never been one to be scared of heights – but doing TOUGH work – in the blazing sun – with a pitchfork in hand and nothing securing me to the house – put the fear of God into me. On top of the fear – I was no good, whatsoever, at manual labor. I have a deep respect for people who are great with their hands, they can do projects and do it yourself tasks around the house, and so on. But in my toolbox lies my checkbook. I’m absolutely no good at that sort of stuff.
I made it 1 ½ days as a roofer. I went to lunch on day #2 and never came back. I’m glad I tried – but I am far too soft for that kind of hard work. Besides – fat people and gravity are natural enemies. I should’ve known…
At worship yesterday I heard the pastor make a comment about strengths. It really threw me for a loop. The quote went something like this:
“The most dangerous thing in the world is when a strength is not surrendered to God.”
You see – we all have things we’re great at. These strengths that God gave us are the things that really make us tick. But far too often I’ve wanted…in fact I’ve craved the strengths I don’t possess. I want to be physically capable enough to roof a house. I want to be able to melt hearts with my singing voice. I want to be a masterful chef. And I’m simply not. We have a tendency to beat ourselves up about what we’re not – don’t we?
But a dolphin isn’t jealous of a bird for its ability to fly…just as the bird isn’t jealous of the dolphin and its ability to swim. They simply revel in the joy of what they can do.
Our strengths are what we should focus on. What are you exceptional at? And it’s not so much to just be great at something – but rather, how can you take that gift (or those gifts) and use it for God’s glory? I think the pastor from yesterday was on to something when he said that “The most dangerous thing in the world is when a strength is not surrendered to God.”
I have a buddy named Mark who can SING the roof off of a building. And so he’s playing into that strength and has some audacious goals with his singing career. And I’m convinced he’s going to reach those goals because of his gifts, yes – but more so because of his determination. Having a gift is one thing – but having the passion to back it up is the difference maker. I have to believe that passion comes from purpose – and my purpose is to let Christ shine through me. That’s worth getting excited over, isn’t it!?!
And my hope is that the gifts/strengths that my friend Mark possesses – and the gifts/strengths that you possess – are surrendered to God. How can we change the world? By being authentic to whom God created us to be and using our strengths for His glory!
This world would be pretty crappy if I tried to do what Mark is doing with his singing career. I’m simply not designed for that. And I wouldn’t be so happy, either. I know this – because I tried roofing – and even though it was a ‘sexy’ job for the summer – it wasn’t what I was designed to do.
The world will get the best us when we figure out what strengths we have – and then we use those to glorify God.