Lifting up Leaders
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
- 1 Corinthians 12: 7
To believe that each of us has been given a manifestation of the Spirit is a pretty audacious belief. When you look around you at work, at home, in the grocery store or Walmart, can you see the work of the Spirit in each person? It’s a pretty big and inclusive God who will offer to every person a bit of Godliness, a bit of the creative stuff that makes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control possible through each person. And yet here we are believing, as Lutheran Christians, that every person has a bit of the manifestation of God in them.
It is a wonderful belief, too, in that, we recognize that every person has something to offer to the world that can honor and glorify God. As a pastor in a more rural part of the world, I think about how we are passing along the faith of our fathers to the children in our lives. How do we speak the language of faith we’ve been gifted in the language of our children?
The truth is, not one of us is able to do this for every person we meet. God is manifest in different folks in different ways. If you go on in the first Corinthians text, you’ll see that Paul outlines so many ways the manifestation of God comes through people. Our challenge is to allow those gifts to be seen, to be named, and to be shared. There are people I don’t think want to work with, know, or use their gifts and yet, I don’t think God lets anyone’s gifts be idle.
Each of us has a congregation which includes so many varieties of gifts that we don’t take the time to figure out, to recognize. Those who are willing, then, get to overuse their gifts to the point that others feel as if they are intruding when they attempt to share the ways they can glorify God.
As we come to the realization that God is present in each of us, manifest through the gifts of the Spirit, we also come to realize that our Church needs all of those gifts, those voices, to not only be complete, but to also find new ways to share the message of the gospel of Jesus. It is important that in each congregation, we look for and listen to those who have gifts that are not yet a part of our community’s tool box, that we open our hearts to allow alternate voices and creative ways to share God’s love that doesn’t necessarily include “the way it has always been done.” New ways of doing things inspire us to argue, to grouse, to grumble because they take us out of our comfort zones. As we heard of the call to Jesus’ disciples a few short weeks ago, we must also be honest: none of those fishermen would be our first choice of folks to put into use as ministers, as people