Summary: A critical part of stewardship is to discover and use your spiritual gifts as well as "natural" talents for service.
FINDING YOUR SWEET SPOT
What do a tennis racket, a baseball bat, and a golf club have in common? They all have a sweet spot. There is a place on them that allows you the opportunity to make the type of contact with the respective balls they are designed to hit that will allow them to go farther than if you were to hit off their ‘edge.’
Think about some of the leading tennis players today. Players like Venus and Serena Williams sisters, Andre Agassi, and Steffi Graf. While they have learned to use all areas of their racket head, I have no doubt that they know where the sweet spot is on their racket and are able to use that spot when they need to.
Then there is Tiger Woods. I love that Nike TV commercial where he stands there with his club and a golf ball and does this number (try bouncing the golf ball off the club.) Golf clubs have sweet spots on them. The bigger the spot, the better we can hit the ball.
Finally, in acknowledging my favorite sport, baseball, there is Sammy and Mark and Junior and a whole host of players who know how to use the sweet spot on their bats and really give opposing pitchers trouble with their hitting. One of my favorite sounds is the crack of a bat that has hit a baseball on its sweet spot. By the way what do you, or some else say, when that happens? “That was so sweet.”
One of my favorite entertainers is the late Victor Borge. It is very easy for me to start laughing when I see him on a TV special. His great sense of humor coupled with his great musical ability at the piano is evidenced to me of a person who found and stayed in his sweet spot. In fact, his quick wit is revealed in the conversation he had with someone who asked him if he played any other musical instruments. Borge answered, ‘Well, yes, I have another piano.”
Now I want us to reflect on what I have just said. Think about the people I have mentioned – Venus and Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Tiger Woods, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Victor Borge. How do we know about them? They are famous. They are celebrities. We watch them on TV, the ball field, the stage, and the tennis court. We do not interact with them. We do not play with them on the court, or on the field. We are passive participants in their lives.
I say this to illustrate an important point – when it comes to living out our commitment to God, you and I have our own sweet spots, a place of service, of mission of maximum effectiveness in our lives that allows us to live like we were created to live. And that requires us to be active participants in the mission, in the cause, that God has called us to both congregationally and individually.
There are two aspects, to sides of the coin; to this tool, this “sweet spot” of God we call talent -ability and giftedness. Ability is the quality of being able, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Other names for ability are power and skill.
Gifted is being defined as talented. Talented is defined as the natural endowments of a person. There is a difference between ability and giftedness.
Pro athletes are a case in point. I recently went to a Bulls game and was reminded of this issue when I looked up into the rafters of the United Center and saw all of the championship banners and the retired numbers hanging above me.
The one that drew my attention almost immediately was one with a big red 23 on it - Michael Jordan’s number. I have no doubt that Jordan influenced professional basketball in many ways.
But, if my memory serves me correctly, Michael Jordan had to work at making his high school basketball team. In fact, if I remember correctly, he was cut from the team his sophomore year. He had to practice and develop his skill to play. Would he be considered a gifted athlete? Some might think so and some may not.
But, there are gifted people in many different areas. They have this natural endowment that allows them to pick up a ball bat, a musical instrument, or a test in school, and just swing it, play it, or pass it without a lot of effort. Somewhat disgusting isn’t it?
During my college days, I moved to the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. and, as part of my education, spent a semester in an internship at a church.The pastor of that church was one of these gifted persons. Not long after I got there we went to Southern Pennsylvania and skied.