For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Romans 12:4–8, NASB95
I know a young woman who works in the creative arts ministry at her local church. She is professionally trained and spiritually gifted in her area. However, in my conversations with her, she often compares her gift to others on her team. She laments the skills she does not possess rather than valuing her uniqueness. She gets caught in the clutches of comparison.
All of us can become vulnerable to unhealthy comparisons. It is natural for us to assess our role as we go through different seasons of life, as a parent, in a career, in the empty nest years, and especially in ministry. We look around to determine where we fit and if we measure up. Admiration can quickly turn to envy and feeling “less than” when we begin to view our gifting as inadequate compared to others.
Paul directly addresses this issue in Romans 12:4-8. He encourages the believers in Rome to recognize and use the Holy Spirit’s gifting to each member of the body—for the body. He instructs them to remember their purpose: playing a vital role for the common good of the body of Christ and the kingdom.
Remember the Holy Spirit knows you intimately, and He has gifted you according to that intimate knowledge. Be inspired by what you see in others, but don’t let your thoughts park there for long. Failing to see the high value God has placed on your unique gifts downplays the way He created you for His glory.
Take care to guard against the clutches of comparison. God has bestowed a special provision on you. Trust His gifting and His purpose, and look forward to how you will grow and change as you exercise those gifts and skills within the body of Christ.
I think God could untangle your soul, your story, your gifts, your people, your place, and your passions, and begin to weave it into purposes that you haven’t been brave enough to imagine.
Jennie Allen, Restless: Because You Were Made for More
Shirley Ralston (MACE, 2008) serves on the leadership team for the DTS-Houston Alumni Association. She is a writer, teacher, and pastor’s research team member at Houston’s First Baptist Church. She is also a founding member of the HFBC Missionary Care Team. Shirley and her husband, Jeff, reside in Houston after several years living in the Middle East and the South Pacific.