Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. Genesis 42:6
How fun it is to be a child and have a dream where everyone bows down to you. Joseph knew his dream was from God, but how he perceived it might play out didn’t materialize. It would take decades before he saw it happen. In God’s timetable, Joseph needed the maturity to handle spiritual power, and his brothers needed humility, brought about by years of failure and hardship.
Spiritual gifts are wonderful things, but in my flesh, I can’t predict how God wants to use them. I am like a young version of Joseph, wide-eyed and immature, unable and often unwilling to embrace the heavy price tags associated with them. Here are some examples.
- Teaching ~ It’s tempting to teach what I want to teach and enjoy the accolades of others recognizing my giftedness. But God is supposed to choose the topics and the audience and craft the message the way He wants it presented. To want to be known as a great teacher is a fleshly goal. Teaching with God’s authority, I will be loved, and I will also be hated. God promises grace for the burdens that come with both.
- Shepherding ~ I want to shepherd those I’m attracted to, those who will appreciate my investment into their lives. But God wants me to bring healing to the broken where shepherding is messy. Healing and wholeness are costly and often resisted. I must relinquish my need for acceptance.
- Leading ~ Without the filling of the Holy Spirit, I will wear my power recklessly and attempt to lead others where I think they should go. I will bask in the attention of being upfront, giving orders, and having people answer to me. God calls me to lay down my life in servant leadership.
- Mercy ~ I will want to extend mercy to those I feel need it. But God will also ask me to show mercy to those I consider undeserving. He will also call me to withhold mercy for someone’s good until He says it’s time to extend it. Drying another’s tears too quickly will interfere with what He is trying to tell them. This will cause friction in relationships.
God gives spiritual gifts to His children. They are both wonderful and powerful, but only when exercised under the Holy Spirit’s control. Like Jesus, I will know the joy, and the burden, of using my spiritual gifts with divine wisdom. One of the heavy price tags is a willingness to experience every mountaintop and valley on the narrow road to glory.
Your gifts, Your way, through me. Amen