As every year of ordained ministry passes, I become more grateful for my work before ordination. For about six years, I was the Director of Volunteer Services for a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Delaware. Coordinating over 2000 volunteers a year, a major part of my job was helping people find just the right volunteer position based on their gifts. Most volunteers that came my way expected that volunteering at Habitat meant wielding a hammer. And sometimes that was true. But sometimes you were hanging drywall, or painting, or putting down flooring. Sometimes you weren’t doing construction work at all. Volunteers were needed in the office, partnering with families as they worked on their sweat equity hours and financial training classes, helping raise funds, and serving on the Board. Sometimes the gifts of a person were a perfect match for what we needed, and sometimes volunteers wanted to try something totally out of their comfort zone. Figuring that out took time, listening, and a little bit of experimenting.
The same is true in churches. We all come to church with many gifts, and sometimes those gifts are just what is needed: the elementary music teacher who takes on the pageant, the architect who takes on property management, the financial planner who serves on the endowment board. But sometimes, church is where we want to find and use other gifts: the engineer who is also great relating with kids, the military officer who is also great with technology, or the construction worker who is a fantastic listener and discernment partner. And sometimes, the things we think we would never be able to do we discover we can do through service at church.
This week at Hickory Neck, we are spending some time discerning our gifts and how we might use them to build up the church. For some, this is a time to renew our passion for a current ministry we serve, and rededicate ourselves to making that ministry more powerful. For others, we need a break from serving in one capacity, and want to try something new. For others, we have yet to commit to serving the church and are nervous to step forward. What the church reminds us during this time of connection is each of us has gifts, and the church is better when we gift those talents and our time to the church. The church knows that when we give of that time and talent, we get so much more back. We learn, we grow, we make new friends, and we come closer to God. Whether it’s picking up sticks on a cleanup day, making meals for the homebound or new parents, or editing a newsletter, in those activities we have holy encounters with Christ.
I cannot wait to hear how you will give of yourself this year at Hickory Neck. I cannot wait to hear how you are challenging yourself, and listening to the whisper of the Holy Spirit. I cannot wait to hear in the coming year the ways in which you bump into God, even in the most unlikely places. When each of us tends to our gifts and our journey at Hickory Neck, the community as a whole benefits. We all get a bit closer to God when we simply show up and use our gifts. I look forward to hearing about your journey in time and talent this year!