I like to paint. Give me an empty room with clean blank walls, taped off and ready to paint, and I am itching for a roller so that I can get started. I love to see fresh color transforming walls into something fresh and clean until the whole room is new. However, I don’t like the prep work. First, you have to move stuff out of the way. Then, you have to clean the surfaces and wait for them to dry. Finally, you tape off or cover anything you don’t want to get paint on. It’s a bit tedious and time consuming. Painting is the fun part.
Yet each step of the project is necessary if you want the project to be the best it can possibly be. The same is true of our gifts from God. He intends them to be used in service for Him, our gifts back to Him. In her Bible study on Gideon, Priscilla Shirer points out that Judges 6:19-20 sets out four steps in giving gifts:
- Prepare it.
- Present it.
- Put it down.
- Pour it out.
For example, God expects me to use my gift as a writer. The first step is preparing my gift, which means honing it to the best of my ability. Writers should read good writing, keep in God’s Word, study the craft in classes and through experts, and practice as much as possible. We should work at revision and listening to constructive criticism, especially from fellow writers and experts.
The next step is presenting our gift, which means we have to turn all of those notes and ideas into an actual written document. Brainstorming is fun; writing is hard work. You have to research topics and fact check. You have to organize those thoughts into a clear and logical order. Then, you have to revise, edit, and proofread until your writing is the best that it can be.
The third step can be difficult for some people. Eventually, you have to release your work. You have to submit it in some form or fashion for others to see. Either you share it with a friend or you submit it to be published in some way. No matter how you do it, allowing others to read your work can be scary, leaving you vulnerable. You wonder if it is good enough.
Finally, you have to allow God to do what He wants to with it. The point of the gift is to give it back to Him, but sometimes we aren’t happy with the results. Many times we have no idea whether or not our words actually make a difference, but that is where we have to trust God that it won’t return void if it is done in His Will. After all, it is His gift, and He can do what He wants to with it.
What gifts do you have? God gave us gifts for a purpose, so if you have been hiding a light under a bushel basket, get it out, dust it off, and ask God what He wants you to do with it. Seeing what He has given us, it’s the least we can do. I still don’t like prep work, but He’s worthy of our best work, so it’s time to get out the cleaning rags and painter’s tape and put my best brush forward and pray that I can paint a picture with my words.