Carl Lewis is an American former track and field athlete, who won 10 Olympic medals, including nine gold, and 10 World Championships medals, including eight gold. During the 80s to the mid-90s he was track and field’s monarch. His dominance was unquestioned and unchallenged. For the majority of that time period he was simply the master of his discipline, respected by the enthusiasts and the novices alike. His form and technique were applied and attempted and many of today’s track stars still reverence him.
Now look up “Carl Lewis sings national anthem” and watch the resulting video. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Never mind. Here you go!
I’m sorry. I was wrong. Dead wrong. Not as wrong as he was, but still, I apologize.
So Fish, why did you inflict that horrific suffering on me? Well, I wanted to prove a point. For all of his dominance and technical mastery in his field, when he ventured into another arena, he was a cataclysmic failure. He was still Carl Lewis, still able to outrun and out jump us all, but outside of his field he was a failing mortal.
He is not alone in this. Michael Jordan, basketball savant, once endeavored to play professional baseball (he quickly returned to basketball). Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant both have rap albums (along with several other athletes), and the less said about Eddie Murphy and Deion Sanders venturing into music the better.
So what’s the point? As children of God, we have each been gifted with a set of unique abilities. We have strengths, and our job is to utilize our abilities to help build the Kingdom of our God (Eph. 4:11-16). The problem comes when we begin to look at our neighbor and become convinced that the only way to serve God is to do what they are doing in the manner they do it. Sometimes people in the Church help this belief, by intimating that the only way to serve God is as they see fit. The excitement over the manifestation of a particular gift can be so strong that the gifts of others may be overlooked. So now everyone wants to become a prophet, while the teachers are not encouraged to develop their talents. Or everyone want to be a praise leader and no one wants to be an evangelist.
Many times this is the failing of leadership. Apostles want to raise apostles. Teachers see the teacher in everyone they encounter. Unprepared leaders tend to have a hard time accepting that some of their followers may not reach full maturity under their watch. They struggle to keep a tight rein on their members, pigeon-holing them to a format that can be easily controlled.
What eventually happens is as jarring as the video clip you just watched. You end up finding pastors that are struggling to be worship leaders. You walk into a church only to find an apostle struggling to manifest a gifting of prophecy. In the meantime people are being hurt and confused, and the Kingdom is definitely not being advanced.
What can we do? First off, we work to identify our gifting. Read the Word. Find true men and women of God, who can aid you as you discover what has been placed in you. Once you discover your strength, develop it. Too often we find our calling and go rushing out, only to come crawling back. Continue to strengthen your relationship with God, and trust him to send people to help you grow. Know that when the time is right He will release you to do the work you have been called to.
Be proud of your gift. We may not all be able to run like Carl Lewis, but with time and application, we too can become masters of our field. Then we can be confident in hearing “Well Done”.
Your style may grant you victory over your current enemy, but may be as effective as a glass helmet against another.
Heading back to the deep waters,
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Just a little birdy and fish about the Father's business. Helping to better the world one blog at a time.