As a child, I was terrible at every sport I tried. During gym, I wanted to disappear into one of those stinky, 90’s wall mats. My swim team tryout ended in tears because I actually, literally crashed into another kid. I suppose my fantastic swimming style couldn’t be contained by the likes of lane ropes. I can’t bowl even with bumpers. I could never hit a ball well with a bat, my foot, a paddle – and probably not even with a highway sign. I played one dismal season of JV field hockey as a defender who was terrified to get the ball. Then – don’t ask me why, as I can no longer identify with my own adolescent reasoning – in my late teens, I went out for high school track with quite low expectations for myself but hoping to get some exercise. It turned out that track was different. Sixteen years ago, I figured out that competing at running was the one (and only!) sport I was made to do.
People often tell me how much they dislike running because they find it painful, but I find running freeing and fun simply because I was created for it in a way that I was not created for other sports. I’m not bragging about my ability to run, but pointing out that you have something in you, something given by God, that other people find difficult and painful but that you were born to do. We are created for significance in the kingdom of God through things that come naturally to us, whether it is to disciple, teach, envision, plan, withstand, counsel, connect, or work. Our individual roles in discipleship have meaning, and they bring balance and impact to the body of Christ when we pursue them. I believe that some of us may not even know our own potential for involvement in the body of Christ. We might surprise ourselves with what we can do.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 (ESV) says, “For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the One Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues...”
Like “iron sharpening iron,” (Proverbs 27:17) our roles in the body of Christ were given by our Creator with great intentionality, for a purpose that should propel us forward into increasing responsibility and expectation of purpose in every season. Our created roles start out by coming to us naturally, then eventually grow to challenge our spirits while giving joy and meaning to our lives.