Most of us will never have the experience of God speaking to us in an audible voice, calling us by name and telling us exactly what we should be doing. Nor will many of us have visions when we go to bed at night—for most of us the clues to our calling will appear in more mundane ways. So let’s look at this acronym….
C stands for competence…What am I good at? Everything else flows from this. This is why it is so essential for Christians to encourage and affirm one another in the discovery of their gifts. What are you being affirmed in?
What are other people telling you that you’re good at? This is closely related to but different from the question, what do you do well? Affirmation from others can give us considerable insight into our own gifts since we don’t always have an accurate awareness of the nature of our own abilities.
Of course, the other side of the coin is equally true; we may be unnecessarily modest or reticent about admitting having a certain gift which others affirm we possess. When someone asks you to consider some particular ministry within the church, you should assume that they have seen a specific gift within you. You should ask what gifts the ministry or position requires and why you were thought of in this regard.
L stands for love. What do I love? …what issues deeply concern you? What do you feel passionate about? Ask yourself the question, what do I enjoy?
God calls you to share in the fullness of joy. Think about the things that you really enjoy doing, things that give you a deep sense of peace and satisfaction. Chances are that you are tapping into the gifts that God has given you for ministry, and that within those activities lay opportunities for significant ministry.
Also think about the opposite passion – what you hate to see? If you hate seeing people hungry, God might be calling you to feed them! If you hate seeing something done poorly, maybe God is nudging you to volunteer, rather than criticize!
The key is to combine your gift with your area of concern, with what you love doing…..if you are concerned about the plight of homelessness here in Toronto and you love cooking then…. You will be most effective when serving in those areas.
U has to do with understanding. Here we are concerned with our understanding in two important areas.
Understand Yourself:—the questions here have to do with your personality and temperament. For example—Hospitality—Introvert and Extrovert.
Another consideration is the type of work that you enjoy. Do you like to work with other people or do you prefer to work on your own?—specific time lines or open ended projects?
An important part of growing in ministry is growing in your understanding of yourself—this is not navel gazing or self-indulgence.
Understand what God is doing: Our growing understanding of what God is doing in our own lives and in the world will increase our awareness of the opportunities to participate in God’s work. Through your reading of the Bible and your life of prayer, you need to be well aware of what God’s plans are for the world, in order to participate in his plan. You’ll learn to recognize God at work in your life and in other people’s lives as you grow in your faith, and you’ll also learn to recognize when good ideas, nudges, or big plans are not consistent with God’s plans, and need to be avoided.
E has to do with experience. The question is what has life prepared you to do?
For example you might be a recovering alcoholic or drug addict, you have gone through a painful divorce, or suffered with depression. These experiences, as horrible as they might have been, have equipped you for ministry in a way that no amount of professional training could ever do. You know firsthand what is needed to minister to people in these situations…
Now I am not saying that God allowed you to go through this experience in order to equip you for ministry. God would never wish that on anyone. What I am saying is that there never has to be such a thing as a wasted time or experience. When we open our lives to God’s presence everything we have ever done or experienced, good or bad, comes into play.
Now the same can of course be said about positive experiences…..maybe you’ve had some great experiences in life that you can share with others, and invite them to experience, too!
S finally stands for situation. Where do I spend my time, where am I situated? We live our lives in various places in a variety of relationships with a variety of responsibilities—work, home, neighbourhood, family, friends…—what opportunities for ministry do I see? The more we ask ourselves that question the more opportunities will arise.
When we have discovered the gifts that God has given us for ministry, we need to learn how to use them.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and try things out and see whether they fit for you. Sara tried CM but it didn’t fit and now she is a greeter in the church and heading up HIV. In a loving community you can try different roles on, and then it not be a problem if you realize that it is not your gift.
Question: What CLUES are present in your life? How would our community/town change if Christians all used our gifts?