Celebrating your gifts
How often have you been told, "Don't brag about yourself. Let others praise you"? As I was growing up, Mom was quick to offer that advice. So even though you knew you were talented in a particular area, you felt you must modestly hide it. Modesty was considered a virtue. You dressed decently and conversed without boasting or elevating yourself or your possessions. You simply hoped your actions and accomplishments would speak for themselves. Let someone else tell you how good you were. You certainly didn't boast about your own attributes.
Through the years society has changed. Now, fortunately, one teaches children they are special, they are doing a good job and to show off what they can do.
I recently thought about my endowments -- what I am adept at, what gifts I have been given. Everyone feels he's proficient in something, though he's often reluctant to admit it, especially to anyone but himself or those closest to him.
The longer I pondered the situation of people concealing what they are skillful at, the more determined I became in getting to the core of what stance one should take in acknowledging and appreciating his capabilities. I turned to Scripture. 1 Peter 4:10 satisfied my curiosity: "As generous distributors of God's manifold grace put your gifts at the service of one another, each in the measure he has received." However, one must first become aware of those gifts and competencies before they can be used for the service of others. Then one must realize that when one claims and uses them one honors God, the giver of those gifts.
Occasionally you hear someone say he has few talents. But sometimes one needs to merely start a task to recognize he can perform it. When you begin to use the gifts God has given you, you will find that he continues to bless you by providing you with an even greater array of skills than you could ever have imagined. Your storehouse of expertise multiplies and spreads.
As I continued to contemplate celebrating my gifts, talents, abilities and skills, I recognized it was all right to admit I was adept in some areas, at least to myself. I turned my recollections into a "gratefulness journal." I attempted to spot all the fields in which I believe God has blessed me by granting me numerous gifts and talents. Consequently I came from my experiment feeling that I am, for sure, richly blessed.
Rather than feeling like a braggart, I felt I was instead praising God. Since God bestows every good thing, one fails to honor God when he refuses to acknowledge or use one's abilities.
People were created out of love. That means everyone is special to God. To not concede that you're a valuable, gifted and wonderfully made human being is to mock God. When one divulges his capabilities and becomes his own support system, he honors God by declaring that what God made is worthwhile. Rather than claiming the credit for himself he thanks God for his gift.
It gives one a sense of freedom when he becomes aware that it's OK to recognize and be grateful for the good things God has given him. There is nothing wrong or conceited about admitting to someone that you're a competent seamstress, a writer, carpenter or clergyman. You not only give God the recognition for making something valuable when he made you but you elevate your self-esteem as well.
It takes everyone to complete the body of the church. Remember, some can sing, others lector and many heal and extend hospitality. The same scenario holds true within families, neighborhoods and the universe. So hold your head high; throw your shoulders back and march before God and the world as you celebrate your gifts with pride.
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.