Catherine, a registered nurse, was unhappy with her job, so she submitted her resignation. She was sure she’d have no trouble finding a new position because of the nursing shortage in her area.
She then e-mailed cover letters to dozens of potential employers and attached her resume to each one. Two weeks later, Catherine was dismayed and bewildered. She had not received even one request for an interview. So she continued to wait. Finally, she received a message – from a prospective employer- this is great, she thought. The email, which began to shed light on the reason she hadn’t heard from anyone else.
The email read: “Dear Catherine, Thank you for your interest in our nursing position. However – Your resume was not attached as stated. I do, however, want to thank you for your mile high lasagna recipe. It was delicious.”
Her mistake aside, Catherine, with her wish to leave one job and find a new one, is typical of a majority of people in today’s workforce. According to a poll conducted late last year – 84 percent intend to look for a new position or a change in companies.
That number seems surprising – for a couple of reasons.
First, the job unemployment rate is 3.8. The lowest in years. So you would think people who were working would be grateful and wouldn’t even be thinking about searching for a new position.
Now, I will acknowledge, grateful to have a job doesn’t mean the job is a pleasure.
The second reason-shows that 84%, a very high number of people are at jobs that either do not match their skills or which they do not enjoy. That possible?
Third thought – and yes it’s politically incorrect these days to say this-but I’ll say it anyway. Within that 84 percent, it includes some who’d prefer not to be working at all. The politically incorrect word for that….Lazy. The book of Proverbs has much to say about that. Great sermon material there. 84% percent indicates a lot of discontentment. Now from out scripture this morning- What about the jobs in the church? We call them ministries. But what about us? The Church. The Body of Christ.
“Present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice” Paul writes in Romans. Do you see what Paul does? He lays out – that how we engage our physical selves is a reflection of our faith.
This living sacrifice he speaks of – marks renewal and wholeness, and is even included our communion prayers. “And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgivings as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.”
A request that we wish to be made new by God at Christ’s table. And so we present ourselves, freely and openly, trusting that when we show up, God does too.
Have you heard that quote……80 percent of life is just showing up?
It makes sense, after all, This quote indicates the importance of being there. You can’t get ahead if you aren’t there to receive it.
Or in times of crisis, a friend’s simple presence is often worth the most. Or child or teenager in a school production or sporting event will scan the crowd for a familiar face to cheer them on. Showing up matters!
Now let’s spend some time on what the context “gifts” mean. Those who write about spiritual gifts often describe them as things that we do well and that we enjoy doing. The idea is that our gifts are not just what we are capable of doing or just those things that we enjoy, but a combination of the two. We all know people who, for example, love to perform music but who are hard to listen to. They fulfill the enjoyment side but not the ability side. Likewise, you probably know people who when pressured to lead a group can do so brilliantly, but who absolutely hate the experience. They fulfill the capability side of leadership but not the enjoyment side.
Paul reminds us that, “We all have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” Vs. 6a The distinction here between talent and gift is not ability level, but, how the skill is used.
Paul said as much when he wrote about this same topic to the Corinthians: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good,” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
For example- and yes names have be changed to protected the innocent – Alice, a church member- realized she has neither a talent nor a gift for leadership. But one year, Alice agreed to chair the mission committee.
She didn’t want the job but she loved her church and was willing to help out where she could. And she tried, but soon she and all around her noticed that the missions committee wasn’t functioning well.
Later that year, the nominating committee distributed to church members a little self-survey that was designed to help them identify their spiritual gifts. Alice took the survey. It entailed answering a number of questions about one’s preferences and experiences and then tallying up scores.
When Alice computed her scores, she found that she came in very low in the area of leadership. But she had one of the highest scores in the congregation in the area of prayer. Alice looked at these results and said, “No wonder I’m having such a hard time chairing the missions committee!” She then volunteered to head a new ministry-she called it the prayer chain ministry, a position that didn’t require leadership but did require time spent in prayer and organizing prayer groups. Which was perfect.
Spiritual gifts include some things that don’t always show up on résumés.
In addition to obvious gifts like musical skills, teaching talent, leadership, financial ability, building and repair skills, things like prayer, faith, hopefulness, hospitality, kindness and mercy are also part of these gifts. So are discernment and wisdom.
In other words, one way the Spirit of God shows itself in the church is through people putting their skills to work for the churches missions and ministries.
But, as another clichéd phrase goes, “showing up is half the battle.” For Paul, there is more to embodied faith than just physical presence. It also involves an opening of the mind. Paul called them and us to reflect on the ways of the world so that we would not conform to the evils of the world. That we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Paul is encouraging us, to respond to our faith by offering ourselves to be transformed by God and engaged in the work of God’s kingdom.
Romans 12 is a call to action for the church in the present age.
And it starts by showing up. It continues by trying to wrap our minds around the issues of our world and the holiness of God’s will for us in it. It leads us into being the body of Christ. And it places us in the position to renew our commitments as followers of Jesus Christ.
Martin Luther King Jr. got it right when he said, “You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.
“In 1981, a United Methodist layperson, George Ewing came to this realization. Employed as a food engineer with General Mills. It bothered him that there were millions of people starving in the world. Ewing and nine other General Mills scientists, engineers and executives- all church people, organized a nonprofit organization called Compatible Technology.
The first project, was a cookie mix, high in protein and vitamins that could be used as a supplement for deficient diets in India. Over the past 30 years, thousands of low-income people in third world countries have benefited from their dedication, creativity.
Here’s how Ewing explains the group’s motivation: “Jesus told us, ‘Feed my people,’ and if you work in the food industry, that’s a loaded command. We were all aware that we weren’t using our talents to do anything about world hunger.” When they began to do that, however, those talents became gifts.
Paul said Christ’s followers should use their skills for the common good.
This is Neema. The photo is on a Instagram devotional by Dave Adamson. He says he met Neema through a church ran program in Tanzania. The first thing you notice about her was her generous spirit. When we handed out juice boxes, which she is drinking from in the photo, she was sure all of her friends had one before she took one. Watching her serve her friends reminded me of Jesus telling his followers; “If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” This had nothing to do with medical advice. In the first century, someone who had a “good eye” ‘ayin tovah’ in Hebrew-was a person that looked out for the needs of others.
I wonder how our eyes would be described by the people around you?
Would our friends, family, teammates or coworkers say you had a ‘good eye’?
My prayer is thay God will give you an opportunity to improve the health of your eyes today!
In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit.