Many years ago I volunteered to be in charge of a banquet for several churches. These churches had worked together on some community events and we wanted to celebrate our partnership with a banquet and speaker. Everything about the planning process was a struggle. We had to change the date of the banquet more than once. There were scheduling issues at the venue we were hoping to reserve. We couldn’t reach consensus on any of the decisions. There were many disagreements among the planning team, and several members resigned. The few of us that were left on the team felt overwhelmed by the tasks ahead of us. A member of the team suggested we call a person who had worked on some banquets in the past and had experience with the process.
When Joanne joined the planning team, everything changed. We developed a clear list of tasks and deadlines. We recruited people from the various churches to take on different roles for the banquet. The internal grumblings of our team stopped. We were thankful for Joanne’s calming presence and her leadership abilities. I realized that I shouldn’t have been in charge of the banquet. Joanne had the best gifts for the job at that time. I shared all the responsibilities with her, and the end result was a wonderful, uplifting event that celebrated the partnership of several churches.
Thank God someone knew Joanne and invited her into the process. I learned how to work effectively with Joanne and with a team. These are lessons I needed to learn and continue to live out today. When something needs to be done, even though I feel capable and can do them, I am not always the one to do them. My interest or concern for a project doesn’t mean I have to be in charge. God may only be calling me to pray that the right person will rise up to accomplish it. I may even be stealing someone else’s chance when I assume I must do it all.
I’ve discovered the value of the next step from this experience. What is the one thing that I can do next? It may not even be me doing, it, but discovering someone else’s gifts. Often these days we are overwhelmed by the big picture. Taking one step can relieve anxiety and bring hope. Send one card. Make one phone call. Connect with one other person. Have faith that what needs to get done will get done and invite other people and other gifts into the process. We can all be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading, as there can be joy and freedom in participating in this process. There are gifts out there waiting to be discovered and put to use. We can grow in our own gifts by encouraging others to use their gifts.
“When he (Paul) had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.” Acts 9: 26-28
Risen Lord, we are often overwhelmed, confused, angry, and frustrated these days. We want to act in your name, but often do not know how. Open us to the leadings of your Spirit, and to the tasks you call us to do. Help us see the gifts in others, so they too can participate in your healing power. Help us be like Barnabas, who saw the gifts in Saul (Paul) and connected them to the community. May we all be encouragers, blending our gifts with the gifts of many others, so one voice becomes many voices, so all together can create a chorus of your love and your presence. AMEN.