Shaped for Serving God
God formed every creature on this planet with a special area of expertise. Some animals run, some hop, some swim, some burrow, and some fly. Each has a particular role to play, based on the way they were shaped by God. The same is true with humans. Each of us was uniquely designed, to do certain things.
Before architects design any new building they first ask, “What will be its purpose? How will it be used?” The intended function always determines the form of the building. Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry.
The Bible says “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. “I Our English word poem comes from the Greek word translated “workmanship.” You are God’s handcrafted work of art. You are not an assembly-line product, mass produced without thought. You are a custom-designed, one-of-a-kind, original masterpiece.
God deliberately shaped and formed you to serve him in a way that makes your ministry unique. He carefully mixed the DNA cocktail that created you. God deliberately shaped and formed you to serve him in a way that makes your ministry unique. He carefully mixed the DNA cocktail that created you. David praised God for this incredible personal attention to detail:”You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous.”
As Ethel Waters said, “God doesn’t make junk.” Not only did God shape you before your birth, he planned every day of your life to support his shaping process. David continues “Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” This means that nothing that happens in your life is insignificant. God uses all of it to mold you for your ministry to others and shape you for your service to him.
God never wastes anything. He would not give you abilities, interests, talents, gifts, personality, and life experiences unless he intended to use them for his glory. By identifying and understanding these factors you can discover God’s will for your life. Bible says you are “wonderfully complex.’ You arc a combination of many different factors. To help you remember five of these factors, I have created a simple acrostic: SHAPE. In this chapter and the next we will look at these five factors, and following that, I will explain how to discover and use your shape.
HOW GOD SHAPES YOU FOR YOUR MINISTRY
Whenever God gives us an assignment, he always equips us with what we need to accomplish it. This custom combination of capabilities is called your SHAPE: Spiritual gifts Heart Abilities Personality Experience
SHAPE: UNWRAPPING YOUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS
God gives every believer spiritual gifts to be used in ministry. God never wastes anything. These are special God-empowered abilities for serving him that are given only to believers. he Bible says, “Whoever does not have the Spirit cannot receive the gifts that come from God’s Spirit.” You can’t earn your spiritual gifts or deserve them-that’s why they are called gifts! They are an expression of God’s grace to you. ‘ Christ has generously divided out his gifts to us. Neither do you get to choose which gifts you’d like to have; God determines that. Paul explained, “It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.”
Because God loves variety and he wants us to be special, no single gift is given to everyone.’ Also, no individual receives all the gifts. If you had them all, you’d have no need of anyone else, and that would defeat one of God’s purposes-to teach us to love and depend on each other.
Your spiritual gifts were not given for your own benefit but for the benefit others, just as other people were given gifts for your benefit. The Bible says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.” God planned it this way so we would need each other. When we use our gifts together, we all benefit. If others don’t use their gifts, you get cheated, and if you don’t use your gifts, they get cheated. This is why we’re commanded to discover and develop our spiritual gifts. Have you taken the time to discover your spiritual gifts? An unopened gift is worthless.
Whenever we forget these basic truths about gifts, it always causes trouble in the church. Two common problems are “gift-envy’ and ‘gift-projection. “The first occurs when we compare our gifts with others’, feel dissatisfied with what God gave us, and become resentful or jealous of how God uses others. The second problem happens when we expect everyone else to have our gifts, do what we are called to do, and feel as passionate about it as we do. The Bible says, “There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. “Sometimes spiritual gifts are overemphasized to the neglect of the other factors God uses to shape you for service. Your gifts reveal one but your spiritual gifts are not the total picture. God has shaped you in four other ways, too.
SHAPE: LISTENING TO YOUR HEART
The Bible uses the term heart to describe the bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections you have. Your heart represents the source of all your motivations-what you love to do and what you care about most. Even today we still use the word in this way when we say, “I love you with all my heart.
“The Bible says, “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person.” Your heart reveals the real you-what you truly are, not what others think you are or what circumstances force you to be. Your heart determines why you say the things you do, why you feel the way you do, and why you act the way you do.
Physically, each of us has a unique heartbeat. Just as we each have unique thumbprints, eye prints, and voice prints, our hearts beat in slightly different patterns. It’s amazing that out of all the billions of people who have ever lived, no one has had a heartbeat exactly like yours.
In the same way, God has given each of us unique emotional “heartbeat” that races when we think about the subjects, activities, or circumstances that interest us. We instinctively care about some things and not about others. These are clues to where you should be serving.
Another word for heart is passion. There are certain subjects you feel passionate about and others you couldn’t care less about. Some experiences turn you on and capture your attention while others turn you off or bore you to tears. These reveal the nature of your heart. “
When you were growing up, you may have discovered that you were intensely interested in some subjects that no one else in your family cared about. Where did those interests come from? They came from God. God had a purpose in giving you these inborn interests. Your emotional heartbeat is the second key to understanding your shape for service. Don’t ignore your interests. Consider how they might be used for God’s glory. There is a reason that you love to do these things.”
Repeatedly the Bible says to serve the Lord with all your heart.” God wants you to serve him passionately, not dutifully. People rarely excel at tasks they don’t enjoy doing or feel passionate about. God wants you to use your natural interests to serve him and others. Listening for inner promptings can point to the ministry God intends for you to have.
How do you know when you are serving God from your heart? The first telltale sign is enthusiasm. When you are doing what you love to do, no one has to motivate you or challenge you or check up on you. You do it for the sheer enjoyment. You don’t need rewards or applause or payment, because you love serving in this way. The opposite is also true: When you don’t have a heart for what you’re doing, you are easily discouraged.
The second characteristic of serving God from your heart is effectiveness. Whenever you do what God wired you to love to do, you get good at it. Passion drives perfection. If you don’t care about a task, it is unlikely that you will excel at it. In contrast, the highest achievers in any field are those who do it because of passion, not duty or profit.
We have all heard people say, “I took a job I hate in order to make a lot of money, so someday I can quit and do what I love to do.” That’s a big mistake. Don’t waste your life in a job that doesn’t express your heart. Remember, the greatest things in life are not things. Meaning is far more important than money. The richest man in the world once said, “A simple life in the fear-of-God is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches.”
Don’t settle for just achieving “the good life,” because the good life is not good enough. Ultimately it doesn’t satisfy. You can have a lot to live on and still have nothing to live for. Aim instead for “the better life”-serving God in a way that expresses your heart. Figure out what you love to do-what God gave you a heart to do-and then do it for his glory.