Thursday, April 18, 2013

Called to Give Up?

I read an article by Dan Phillips, pastor of Copperfield Bible Church in Houston Texas, on his Pyromaniacs site recently that prompted a question:
So I have a question. If you wrote and no one read or you spoke and no one heard, yet you know you had something valuable to offer by way of writing or speaking, would you give up or try to figure out how to be better "heard"? I know of many who have far fewer, if any, readers and listeners than you do who likewise have valuable things to communicate.
Dan replied:
Me personally? I'd probably give up. As long as I could stand it. Then I'd try something else when I couldn't stand it any longer.
Right now, I'm writing to a scant few people. This will automatically post notifications on both my Google+ account and my Facebook page. Normally, I don't see much traffic from these. I don't get much traffic from elsewhere either. The fact is that very few people really care what I have to say - ever.

So perhaps there's another ministry I should try. I took a spiritual gifts assessment recently so I could discover what direction I should go. Now, to be honest I've gone through this exercise more than once in the past. I have plenty of strengths. I have plenty of weaknesses. What I don't have is a ministry niche.

What I do have are scattered and diverse opportunities:

  • I sing with a choir made up of older people from around the North Carolina Piedmont a few times a year. We do a pretty good job singing to small crowds in small churches and in nursing homes. Largely it's fun. 
  • I occasionally get to provide music or give a talk in a local off-brand Cursillo movement. A few people's lives are changed by the movement and I get to have fun doing it.
  •  One church is considering asking me to lead the music at one of their services.
  • Another church has asked if I would be their interim pastor if something happens to the retired pastor who is currently serving them.
  • I can do a few technical things like run sound and edit videos. No one is looking for a good sound tech, but a few sound techs are looking to pawn off lesser gigs to some chump who isn't doing anything better.
  • I'm knowledgeable and extremely gifted in understanding things. But I'm a mediocre teacher at best. When I've tried to teach, few people are interested in my classes - except overseas.
  • If I had the means, I would go to the mission field and stay there. However, I'm not qualified by any reputable mission organization's standards.

So where does that leave me?

My greatest weakness is that I lack the ability to administer my own gifts well. I'm weak and in this weakness, should I expect God to glorify himself? I'm planning on it. I can't say he's done it yet.

But perhaps Dan has a point. I've tried and tried and God doesn't have a place for me to serve him where I'm anything but a passerby and fly-by-night. I like occasionally typing up my stray thoughts and submitting them to the few souls who have little better to do than waste their time reading my sorry musings.

However, as long as I don't have anything better to do, I guess I'll keep typing on occasion. Maybe something I write will make sense to someone out there someday and God will be glorified in some small way through me.

Should I expect larger things? I've tried that. It doesn't work.


  1. You are a very gifted man, Jim, and I pray that God will show you how He is using you in the lives of so many... We have enjoyed having you as our "leader" in small group. You take that role seriously and are faithful to research questions we have, share prayer requests, and your wealth of knowledge of the scriptures and history is inspiring! We are blessed to know you!

    1. I have to say, small group has been the highlight of my week. I'm sad that it's over for now.

  2. "If I had the means, I would go to the mission field and stay there. However, I'm not qualified by any reputable mission organization's standards."

    Are you sure you're not qualified? Have you ever actually applied? At a glance, it looks like you'd fit right in with some of the Pioneers teams I know here working with unreached Muslims in northwest China :-)



    1. My wife and I interviewed years ago at JAARS and we were told we weren't qualified. Since then, we have joined an SBC church. From everything we see, the SBC entities (IMB/NAMB) are very particular. Who are you with?