Without a doubt, the world lost a woman with an amazing natural ability this weekend.
Whitney Houston had beauty. But she wasn’t just a beautiful woman. Whitney Houston had a voice like none other. I cannot even begin to tell you how many Seafarer songs and skits had Whitney singing back-up to suntanned and pony-tailed counselors. I Wanna Sail with Somebody must have been on “repeat” for three summers running.
I’m missing Whitney.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding her death, there is no doubt about this one. Whitney Houston loved singing, and she did it exceptionally well. Whitney Houston had a natural ability. And so do you. Probably many of them.
Identifying your natural abilities can help you find your sweet spot. And when these natural abilities are offered up to God, other people will be blessed, and God will be glorified.
Natural abilities sound an awful lot like spiritual gifts, right?
Well, yes, but not necessarily. Everyone has natural abilities. Every single human being has natural abilities. But it takes a relationship with Jesus Christ to get spiritual gifts. As John Piper says,
Many unbelievers have great abilities in teaching and in administration, for example. And these abilities are God-given, whether the people recognize this or not. But these would not be called “spiritual gifts” of teaching or administration because they are not expressions of faith and they are not aiming to strengthen faith. Our faith in the promises of God is the channel through which the Spirit flows on his way to strengthening the faith of others (Galatians 3:5). Therefore, no matter what abilities we have, if we are not relying on God and not aiming to help others rely on him, then our ability is not a “spiritual gift.” It is not “spiritual” because the Holy Spirit is not flowing through it from faith to faith.
Conversely, I believe, our natural abilities become spiritual gifts when the Holy Spirit is flowing through them.
The person who is a good leader meets the Lord and their leadership becomes Spirit-empowered, God-glorifying, and body-edifying as they surrender their natural ability to God. Their natural ability to lead becomes a spiritual gift of leadership.
I don’t know about you, but I want to see ALL of my natural abilities become spiritual gifts. I want to offer up every talent, every skill, every ability I have as an expression of faith aimed at strengthening faith.
So, how can you and I see our natural abilities become spiritual gifts?
1. Identify your natural abilities.
Now please don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be. Just answer this question. What do you love doing?
What are the things that when you do them people say, “Wow! That was great!” Is it baking? Throwing a party? Decorating? Acting? Writing? Singing? Dancing? Leading a meeting? Scrapbooking? Organizing? Listening to a friend? Meeting new people? Playing an instrument? Solving calculus problems? Managing finances? Teaching a child to read?
What do you love doing?
Some of you are saying, “Really? But that’s nothing.”
It’s nothing to you, but it’s not nothing to other people. It’s not even that it’s so easy for you. You may have to work hard at it. And I would say you should work hard at it, and you should try to get better at it. But at the end of the day, you love doing it and you’re good at it.
And when you do it, like Eric Liddell, you feel God’s pleasure.
Right now I want you to write down at least five things that you love doing. Nothing, and I mean nothing is too insignificant. And, if you’re bold enough, I want you to type those five things in the comment box. If you’re not quite that bold, email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and tell me what they are.
So, that’s the first step to seeing all of your natural abilities become spiritual gifts. Identify them.
2. Offer your abilities to God.
It’s as simple as praying something like this:
God, I love dancing. And you made me a good dancer. I want to dance for you. I want to dance in a way that brings you glory and others joy. I want my dancing to build up the body of Christ. Lord, from this moment forward my dancing belongs to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Now, write down your prayer. Offer your abilities to God. And if you’re bold, add your prayer to that comment or that email you’re sending to me. I would SO love to be praying for you in this.
Offer your abilities to God. And keep offering them.
3. Look for opportunities to us your abilities.
Open your eyes. Watch for opportunities in the spheres of your life to use your abilities, which are now really spiritual gifts, for purposes which will glorify God and build up the body. Get in the habit of praying before you teach, or bake, or decorate, and expect the Spirit to flow through you. You will have so much fun!
And keep my email handy because I want to hear from you when you see your natural abilities transformed to spiritual gifts.
I don’t know where Whitney stood with Jesus. I do hope she’s with him now, freed of addictions, blinders fully removed, wounds healed. And, if she is, I’m guessing she’s right at his feet, hair spilled out, perfume filling the air, singing this song.
This post is part of a Virtual Book Club in which we read and discuss the book S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose in Life, by Eric Rees. In addition to my own study and experience, much of the material and many of the insights originate in this book. I invite you to join me and my friends over the next few months as we work together to find and fulfill our unique purpose for life. It proves to be an exciting journey!