Sunday, July 13, 2008

Question on Gifts, Abilities, and Service

A couple years ago, my church was short on people to run Power Point (ppt) for the main service. I saw the announcement and thought, "I can do that." And I did. In my mind it was an act of service. It wasn't necessarily a gift. Simply, it was something that I knew how to do and that needed being done.

While I was more than able to put together and run the show, I found I didn't enjoy it all that much. The big piece was that I found it to be very lonely. Thursday night practice consisted of me in the loft upstairs watching the musicians chat and have a grand time while I waited for them to run through a song. (I couldn't join in the chatting without yelling.) More chatting. Run through another song.

Sunday morning, I watched everyone chat and worship. It was just me and the sound guy. Occasionally, they would have a prayer time. Sometimes I wanted to go down for prayer but I couldn't leave my post. Someone told me once to just ask the sound guy. The problem with running ppt though is that if I stopped and did that the slides would stop appearing.

Lonely. That is what I found ppt to be.

And, it was fraught with conflict. To be fair, I won't air all of that here. So, I decided to leave the ppt team.

So, when I quit, someone from our KidStuf worship asked me to run ppt for them. I was hesitant. There was definitely a lot less conflict but I still feared the lonely part.

She was very complimentary on how I run things. I have good timing and all. She called it a gift. Maybe. I wonder if it is just an ability -- something many people can learn.

We met this week to talk about next year. I found myself agreeing to help out, but now I am having second thoughts. We are moving to a different building. As we talked it came out that ppt might be in one place and sound in another. Thus, I would really be even more alone doing ppt.

I believe in KidStuf, but I'm not sure that I'm passionate about ppt.

And I definitely don't want to be alone. As a single who lives alone, I get up alone, I eat most meals alone (everyone at work takes different lunch breaks since it is a small office), I spend most evenings alone, I go to bed alone. (Unless you count the cats!) That is a lot of alone.

I think I feel the alone piece even more in social type situations where I, for whatever reason, have to be off by myself.

So, ppt has been an act of service on my part-- maybe more than others realize.

My question for you is what is the difference between gifts and abilities? Where do my feelings of not wanting to be alone on a regular basis come into play? Do I need to do it just as an act of service or should I find something different after a few years of doing it? Would it be selfish to say, "I don't want to do it if I have to sit by myself." (I do realize that might sound childish, but it is a real question.)

Your thoughts as I sift through this are welcome.

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cautious1 said...

Hi there!
As far as the gifts vs abilities are concerned, I look as gifts as having a "special" connotation. Clearly, both are given to us by God. I have the ability to ride a bike and I have the ability to play basketball, but am I using these abilities to help others?? To me, gifts are more "special". You have the gift of writing, others may have a gift for singing while others may have a gift for working with children or older adults or cognitively disabled people. In my mind, gifts "benefit" others or have a "special" meaning to those that are on the receiving end of them. For example, on my nephew's birthday, I give him a gift. I give my niece the "gift" of my time when I am with her. Does that help???

As far as the alone feeling, I can totally relate. As a single person myself, I end up doing a lot of things by myself. We are relational by nature so it's not odd to feel like you do. We as the Body of Christ, are called to be with others (I realize that while we may want to be with others, it doesn't always work out that way). From a literal perspective, without our head and our arms and our legs, we are not "complete" just as the Body of Christ is not complete without our brothers and sisters.

To address your question about the ppt, are you doing it out of a sense of obligation?? Is it something that you feel like you "should do" or you "have" to do it??? If that is the case, are you doing it out of obligation because you don't want to feel guilty about not helping out in that particular area at your church?? Are there other areas that you could be involved in where you will be with others and you can tap into one of your many "gifts"? Is the point of service to simply do something/anything even if our heart really isn't into it?? Is it like your 6 month check up at the dentist where you do it because you have to do it?? If you feel like you have to do it, does that create resentment, frustration, irritation, etc???? Why not find something that you enjoy and serve God in that way???

Just some food for thought.....

teresa.schultz said...

I found your post particularly interesting because I am the person at my church who runs the computer - during the entire service. While it started out as powerpoint, it is now much more. Personally, I feel that this area of service is my "calling." I see it as a ministry. While it is sometimes a "lonely" job, and doesn't always get a lot of recognition, it is a vitally important part of the worship service.

We live in a visual society (you may have noticed). People, especially of the younger generation, are used to being entertained. They are used to having a lot of images coming at them all of the time (not at all like when I was growing up!) So, the visual part of the worship service is important. You advancing the words to the song to the next slide in time for someone in the congregation not to miss a word when they are singing enhances their worship experience. Not having the words in a timely manner can take away from someone's worship experience. So, please don't discount the importance of what you do at your church - it really makes a huge difference. But, its one of those things where people don't know it makes a big difference until they don't have it.

I not only make sure the words to the worship songs are displayed on the screens, I choose the backgrounds to those songs to enhance the worship experience for those in the congregation. I use a program called "Easy Worship," that allows me to have moving backgrounds behind my slides and allows me to revise a song "on the fly" or to type in words as they are being sung if one of our worship leaders is receiving a "new song" from the Lord (this happens frequently in our Wednesday night services, which go a little bit deeper in the Spirit). I also display introduction slides for our pastors as they give an encouragement for the offering time or during worship. I receive a powerpoint presentation from the pastor, along with his notes, and I run those slides for him during the message. The timing on all of this is imperative. We do video announcements, so I also run those and make sure all transitions are smooth. It's a busy job - but, again, I see it as a ministry. When it is not running smoothly, that seeker in the congregation might get distracted by the "technical difficulties" and not hear the voice of the Lord calling to him or her to let Him into his or her heart.

All of that being said, I would ask you if you feel called to serve there. This is a calling from the Lord - I don't know whether it is a "gift" or not. My pastor, or one of our pastors, spoke about gifts not too long ago and said that gifts are given by the Spirit to supernaturally make His glory known. That's not exactly how he said it, but it did have something to do with supernatural abilities (like prophecy or word of knowledge). Service is a calling, but you don't need supernatural ability to sweep the floor or run a powerpoint presentation. Anyway, I appear to be rambling. I would encourage you to seek the Lord and ask Him whether that is your area of calling.
I can understand the frustration with everyone else being on stage and getting to visit - it can get a little boring in the booth on rehearsal nights. Although, I do have a lot of fun with the sound guy, the lighting girl and our "stage manager" (he just keeps everything running smoothly). I started out singing in the praise team, but felt that God was calling me to be the one to run the computer. You're still a vital part of the group.
BTW, I was also at She Speaks this year. I've been reading your blog since then and thoroughly enjoying it! I wish that I would have read it before and made the effort to meet you there! Maybe next year.
Blessings on your week. i will pray that you will find the answer you are seeking with respect to this ministry for you.

Amy L Brooke said...

Wow. Thanks for taking time to elaborate like that.

I don't know if it is that I want the "recognition" so much as the relational aspect. That is what I struggle with the most. I think that is why my heart sank so much when I heard that in our new location the sound guy will be down on the floor and ppt will be upstairs. Its not even that you get to interact that much. But I was already feeling the alone piece with the sound person there . . . .

I do know that it is all very important. For KidStuf, there are slides for the songs, slides for the various aspects like the word section or the rapid repsonse (kind of a game show) or slides for the skits. And there is a video segment.

I just need direction. So, please pray for me on that!

Any more thoughts?

ThreeGirlyGirls said...

Hmmm......this is a tough one. I would say if it's not something you are passionate about then, it's not your gift. I have been through a lot of "service" areas in our church, I keep my "terms" of commitment but normally if my time is up and I'm not passionate....then I don't continue with it.

Someone once told me if you are staying in something that you know isn't your gift from God then you are stealing someone else's blessing. But I think if you can teach others to do it, then go for it! Maybe make some type of announcement that you are willing to train someone else.

I will pray for you girl! I know it's a tough one!

Michelle said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with sharing why you are hesitant to do ppt. Maybe you could even train some of the youth and work out a rotation, allowing you time to devote to another area.

Thanks for your prayers. I'll pray for you too.