No, You Cannot Be Whatever You Want To Be
This article appeared in the January 27th edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle
There is a myth widely accepted among Christians that says a person can be whatever they want to be in life. The myth suggests a crescent-wrench can be a hammer. True, you can drive nails with a crescent-wrench but it will damage the wrench, bend the nails and generally produce more harm than good. So it is with the person who pursues a path in life not appropriate to their God-given endowments.
No human being is a blank slate nor lump of clay waiting to be defined by the forces around them. Instead, each person comes into this world endowed with a set of God-given abilities bestowed for the Lord's own purpose. True, some folks are Leatherman Tools: able to do a variety of things pretty well. These people are the polymaths or the "jack of all trades" of society. Even those who possess a limited toolkit are normally able to be fairly effective in more than one area of life. Nonetheless, everyone is created with unique characteristics that best bring glory to God in some particular field of endeavor.
In addition to a set of natural abilities those who are born again receive "supernatural skills" at their new birth. Once again, we must realize a person who has been given the gift of teaching but not the gift of administration will not be as effective in his service to the Lord if he tries to administrate rather than teach. And again, there are followers of Jesus who have been given a variety of spiritual gifts, able to serve the Lord in a variety of ways. Yet, as with the natural gifts, every Believer is re-created with a set of specific spiritual endowments to be used in Christ's service.
Both the natural and the spiritual gifts are given so a person may achieve certain things in service to God. The Lord had these accomplishments in mind from all eternity and because he is the one who gives these abilities (both natural and spiritual) we are responsible to him for their use. The Bible tells us our gifts define our calling and that it is God's will for us to function in the area of our natural and spiritual gifting (Romans 12:3-8). Indeed, the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, saying, do not neglect the spiritual gift you have, given to you and confirmed by prophetic words when the elders laid hands on you (1 Timothy 4:14). In reference to his own ministry Paul said, for if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward. But if I do it unwillingly, I am entrusted with a responsibility (1 Corinthians 9:17). In other words, the follower of Jesus Christ does not have the option to do whatever he wants to do with his life.
The 6 foot 9 high-school kid endowed with exceptional athleticism does not have the privilege to turn his back on the evident call to play basketball as long as God allows. The young lady with perfect pitch and a voice like an angel does not have the right to ignore her duty to serve God in song as long as the Lord allows. The fellow with a creative bent and a love for mathematics and geometry cannot ignore his gift in the field of engineering and pursue life as an back-country outfitter instead. Nor should the believer who can listen to an engine, diagnose the problem and fix it, fancy himself the next Bill Gates. Granted, It is possible to pursue more than one field of endeavor in life but followers of Jesus Christ have the responsibility to make use of their most obvious talents first. It is part of the dominion mandate – part of bringing our arena of activity under the Lordship of Jesus – and cannot be ignored.
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