In God’s image : different gifts
One of the aspects of the way God has created us that can be either frustrating or rewarding is the fact that everyone is different. You may find some people frustrating to deal with because they don’t respond to situations the way you would. But this may be just an expression of the way they are “wired”.
In his letter to the Christians in Rome, the Apostle Paul listed different gifts – called motivational gifts by some, Life Languages by others – that are built in to the way we are designed by the Creator. Part of being made in God’s image is that each of us reflects a different facet of God’s character. This can be frustrating if we let the differences irritate us – but it can be very rewarding if we learn to recognize that the people in our lives all have their own gift to offer.
One of the keys to learning to live in community – for that matter, one of the keys to being happy and having a productive life – is learning to accept the way God has made you and the way He has made others. There is a reason why we don’t all have the same strengths. This is not a mistake! We were not created to be independent of each other – we were created for community (more on this in a future post).
Of course, one might use this legitimate insight as an excuse for being obnoxious and selfish, claiming “that’s just the way God made me”. But if you and I are honest with ourselves, we know that’s a cop-out. We can’t use our created differences as an excuse to rationalize our selfishness, stubbornness, pride, or any of the other forms of sin. We’re called by God to use our different gifts to serve others – not to justify our own self-interest. But as someone who genuinely wants to serve God, I have found it very liberating to realize that it is OK to be different from others. I find that I am much more effective, and my life is much more satisfying, when I stop trying to be like someone else, and learn to make the most of the way God has made me.
That doesn’t mean I can’t acquire new skills or cultivate new strengths. I’ve grown and changed in many ways during the course of my life and I expect this to continue. But the basic truth of the way God has made me is still there, and I find it much easier to work with this basic set of gifts rather than trying to change it. In any team or community, I believe we will find that we function more effectively together if we allow the members of the team to be who they are, and learn to harness each person’s strengths. This isn’t just common sense – it’s a recognition of the grace of God reflected in the way we are made.