“I’m useless. I don’t have any gifts or talents to offer,” sadly this sentiment is strangely familiar for too many of us. Not everyone says it out loud, but we have all thought it at one time another. We are caught in a constant struggle with accurately understanding who we are because we of our short memories and our lack of commitment to grasp who God has made us to be. When we fail to get this, we will never believe or fully embrace or comprehend our true purpose for our work and more importantly our lives. In the article below, Dr. Art Lindsley, Vice President of Theological Initiatives for the Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics, helps us to remember, moves us along a path to understanding of ourselves and our work, and challenges us to take more seriously God’s creation.
There’s Nothing Ordinary About You
(by Art Lindsley)
Have you ever been asked in an interview, “What are your StrengthsFinder test results?”
Since the release of the book Now, Discover Your Strengths in 2001, and the updated edition StrengthsFinder 2.0 in 2008, more than one million people have read the book and taken the online test to learn about their unique set of strengths. This test and numerous others point to a growing interest in discovering our design and pursuing our calling.
I use a different approach in helping people discern their unique gifts and talents and have met with hundreds of people over the years to conduct in-depth vocational profiles.
While many I’ve met know they have unique “strengths” or gifts to uncover, others struggle to believe it.
“I’m useless. I don’t have any gifts or talents to offer,” one woman told me during a vocational profile with her.
Surprisingly, many people feel this way. Many of us have lost our sense of dignity and self-worth. As a result, we are blind to our own inherent creativity and God-given talents.
If we fail to see and believe in the dignity of ourselves and every human being, we will struggle to contribute to God’s call to creativity.
The Source of Our Dignity
Being made in the image of God, we have worth, value, and dignity that cannot be taken away from us. The cultural mandate in Genesis 1:26-28 twice reiterates that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God:
Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image according to our likeness…And God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
James 3:9 rebukes those who worship God with their mouths and yet curse someone else made in the likeness of God:
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.
What a failure to see the connection between the worthiness of God and cursing his image! When Christians bless God but curse those made in his image, they contradict themselves. They are failing to see the connection between the worthiness of God and the worth of people.
C.S. Lewis understood that God created every single individual to be unique and to reflect his image. In his famous sermon, “The Weight of Glory,” Lewis said,
There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations, they are to our life as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
Lewis lived out this idea that “there are no ordinary people” by writing personal, handwritten letters to everyone who wrote to him, by giving away all his royalties, honoraria, and half his meager salary.