Using Our Gifts (Guinness)

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life

This is my favorite book on Christian calling (vocation): The Call by Os Guinness. I just took it down off my shelf again and I hope to re-read it this week. Here’s one section I found just now as I was looking for something in the book. It’s a section I have marked up extensively. It reminds me of a phase in the Heidelberg Catechism: “…each member [of the church] should consider it his duty to use his gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members” (Q/A #55). Here’s Guinness:

In the biblical understanding of giftedness, gifts are never really ours for ourselves.  We have nothing that was not given us.  Our gifts are ultimately God’s, and we are only ‘stewards’ – responsible for the prudent management of property that is not our own.  This is why our gifts are always ‘ours for others,’ whether in the community of Christ or the broader society outside, especially the neighbor in need.

This is also why it is wrong to treat God as a grand employment agency, a celestial executive searcher to find perfect fits for our perfect gifts.  The truth is not that God is finding a place for our gifts but that God has created us and our gifts for a place of his choosing – and we will only be ourselves when we are finally there.

God does call us to ‘be ourselves’ and ‘do what we are.’  But we are only truly ‘ourselves’ and can only truly ‘do what we are’ when we follow God’s call.  Giftedness that is ‘ours for others’ is therefore not selfishness but service that is perfect freedom.

Os Guinness, The Call, p. 46-47.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015