When Someone Shares YOUR Gift

Cupcake

THE GIFT NICHE

Looking down at the plate of cupcakes, I was torn between admiration and envy.  The ladybug toppers looked like they came straight from the pages of Hello, Cupcake!. I starred, wishing I could come up with a genuine compliment that didn’t have jealousy written all over it.

Those expertly decorated cupcakes were a birthday surprise for my husband’s supervisor. I may have been able to celebrate this pretty, petite girl’s kind gesture had she not innocently turned to Tim and asked when his birthday was, hinting he would also receive a plate of tasty treats come February.

My inner girlfriend (Tim and I were only dating at the time) was up in arms.  This girl had inadvertently threatened my security.  My hackles were raised less because she was doing something for my Tim, but because she was doing something (and excelling at it, I might add) that I considered my territory.

I was the stellar baker, the girl who gave good food gifts, the hospitality minded one.  I considered these skills part of my specific gifting from God.  Weren’t we always taught that  there are many parts, but one body? (1 Corinthians 12:20).  In the prideful compartment of my heart, I liked the thought that cooking/baking/hospitality was my niche in community.  MY niche.  I didn’t really want to share it.

The more my community changed – switching churches so Tim and I could worship together, moving to a different state – the more I encountered people with similar gifts. I could tell by my reactions of resentment and protectiveness that I had derived too much value from this self-prescribed niche.

My pride kept referring to verses about many members in one body, clinging to the part about differing gifts. I was striving to remain indignant about other people sharing my gifts.  But, I couldn’t reconcile my prideful stance with what I knew was true about the purpose of community and how our gifts were supposed to operate within community.

THE TRUTH ABOUT COMMUNITY

Community builds up and encourages.

Community points others toward Christ.

Community is about Kingdom building not self-promotion.

Community shares.

Community fills in the gaps and works together.

Romans12.4

COMMUNITY AND THE GIFT NICHE

In light of what I knew was true about community, I couldn’t glaze over certain parts of the “many members, one body” verses I had previously used to support my pride.

Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.  Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body.  We are all parts of his one body and each of us has different work to do.  And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.  God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.  {Romans 12:3-6}

God had outlined the correct thing to do when people share your gift and I was disregarding virtually every bullet point.

  • Derive value from the faith God has given. Nope, I was busy measuring my value like it was five cups of all-purpose flour.
  • Each part has a special function. This was my defense, but I was ignoring the fact that our creator supersedes our gifts.  We are merely parts of the whole, the whole being God.
  • We each have different work to do. Whether someone else has the same type of gift/niche that I do, we have different applications for that gift.  Our sphere of influence is different and our personal history is different.  My baking a plate of cookies for a neighbor is different than the cute cupcake baker taking a plate of her beautiful creations to a Campus Crusade meeting.
  • We need each other. As much as I love Simon & Garfunkel, we are not lonely rocks sitting in the sea, an island surrounded by nothing but water.  We function as ONE body.  I think I would combust under the pressure of being the sole arbiter of hospitality if only one person could fill that role.  Our gifts are group territory, used to help carry the burdens of community.
  • God is the source of our gifts. It is only by God’s grace that I function the way I function.  He gave me the ability to cook and bake well and it should be for His glory that I do those things.

So, the next time someone brings a dozen cupcakes that look like members of a big-top circus to a church potluck, I may have to swallow pride initially, but I will rejoice with them – rejoicing that they are creating in honor of The Creator, exercising their gifts for the benefit of His body (and my stomach!).

Community Series

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5 thoughts on “When Someone Shares YOUR Gift

  1. God used you to speak to me through this post. I have to work with someone I’d rather not and I have to just suck it up and be cheerful about it. Everyone loves her except me and I think I might be intimidated by her. It’s like 2 queen bees in one hive…I was there first! lol

    1. I have been there way to many times than I’d like to admit. I always feel horrible when I realize my stumbling block was envy and pride. Prayers for peaceful hive-life, from one queen bee to another :)

  2. This is great.

    Just so you know- baking is not at all my gift. I attempted to make GF muffins for my co-workers last night and they turned out HORRIBLE. Needless to say they went in the trash and I stopped by Safeway to pick up donuts on my way to work.

    That is probably why we are friends :)

    1. Even if you made a mean GF muffin (which I totally have faith you can do!), I think we would still be friends. I just would have hated you for a little while until I got over myself :)

  3. What a thoughtful post, Emily. Thank you for putting this in such perfect perspective. I have {more recently than I’d like to admit!} found myself in the same place. Thank you for reminding me of both my humanity and the bigger, larger, less-me picture… And for helping me look outward!

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