Do I Owe You An Apology? 3 Lessons in Humility
I’m thinking I could have titled this post, “How Your Gifts and Talents Can Get You in Trouble,” because that’s what it’s about. You see, the Bible states that everyone has been given gifts and talents exclusive to them, which God intends for them to use in their life of faith. While many choose to ignore the gifts, or use them for selfish purposes, God still passes them out to everyone.
One day as I was walking around thinking about that, I came to a startling – and humbling – conclusion, and learned 3 lessons about myself and my gifts and talents.
As you might expect, my gifts and talents relate to words. I write, I do public speaking for various groups and I teach. Years ago, I discovered that these were not gifts given to everyone, and it was a great surprise to me. My best friend in college hated to write letters (something people still did back then). She explained to me that it took her hours to come up with a simple one-page document. At first I didn’t believe her because writing came so easily to me. But when I challenged her about it, she assured me that it wasn’t a common ability, even after years of schooling. It was a gift: I had it, she didn’t. [Of course, she could sing like an angel while my church would probably have paid me not to join the choir.] What a surprise! That lead to my first lesson about my gifts:
Lesson 1: Not everyone has the gifts you have!
The day I started thinking about this and examined my self more closely, I made another (to me) startling observation: these gifts, my natural skills and abilities, also define the areas in which I am most susceptible to err. When I use harsh words instead of kind ones, when I verbally attack someone about an issue, or challenge the thinking of another, I am using my words improperly.
For example, I have always been proud of my ability to use sarcasm to make my points. Sarcasm was the main way my family interacted during my growing up years, and I can still respond to someone’s comments almost instantly with sharp words that cut deeply. In college, I even brought a fellow student to tears with my sharp tongue.
My heritage was my major excuse for a time. Cute little sayings like, “I’m Irish. Sarcasm is part of my charm,” “I’m not yelling, I’m Irish. We live out loud,” and especially, ““I’m Irish. We don’t do this ‘Keep Calm’ thing,” all expressed my thinking. Now I realize that was the same as saying, because of my DNA I have no control over what comes out of my mouth. I know that’s not true, but it was easier to excuse my improper word choices than deal with the issue.
Lesson #2: I am responsible to use my gifts (in this case, my words) properly, serving God with them at all times.
Finally, as I spent more time thinking about this subject, I also saw some positives in my favor. My testimony, the story of how God worked in my life over the years, is the best use of my “word gift.” If I can share the way He used my faith – and those special word gifts – over the years to mold me and re-make me into the woman I am today, then perhaps I can help someone else who is unknowingly misusing her gifts and talents. To be a witness, I need to soften my words, and temper them with love.
1 John 4:16 declares, “God is love.” As a Christian, I should be loving above all else. My gift of words should be used to share God’s love for everyone, and to open my heart to the needs of others.
Lesson #3: I need to use my gifts and talents to express God’s loving nature to those around me.
So, to Edna (from college) and anyone else I have hurt or offended with my words, I apologize and ask your forgiveness.
Do I owe YOU an apology?