The Moses Syndrome

October 16, 2013

I read an insightful blog yesterday over at True Woman about spiritual gifts. Essentially, the blog said that the Bible doesn’t command us to discern our spiritual gifts. I know that I’ve sung this song before, but I think it is worth revisiting. The problem, as I see it, is that we can evaluate ministry opportunities based on our perceived gifts. When confronted with a need, we might dismiss the opportunity because the need calls for gifts that we don’t think we have. This isn’t what believers are called to do.

Sadly, I’ve dismissed ministry opportunities because I didn’t think that the need matched my gifts. I say this to say that I’m preaching to the choir. I realize that there are often needs that we can’t meet. For example, there are financial needs that are way beyond our bank accounts. On balance, there are those opportunities that come our way that are well within our skill sets that we dismiss without any serious thought because we don’t feel gifted in a particular area.

This sort of ministry evasion has many expressions. We might not visit a skilled nursing home because we don’t think we are good at encouraging people struggling with end of life issues. There might be a family with a desperate financial need that we don’t feel compelled to help even with a sandwich because we don’t have the gift of giving. You get the idea.

While we don’t find encouragement to track down our spiritual gift in Scripture, we do find many admonitions to help people with needs. Hebrews 13:16 for example says, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Notice there is no exemption here. Ministry is need-driven, not gift-driven.

How about the Sheep and the Goats passage in Matthew 25? You probably remember what the goats didn’t do. They didn’t feed Jesus or give him something to drink or welcome him or clothe him or visit him in prison. How did they miss serving Jesus? By failing to serve his brothers they failed to serve Him. There is a unity between Jesus and his people. Again, there is no gift exemption here. I think we ought to be very wary of playing that card. It leads to goat-like behavior.

Moses tried to evade ministry using this tactic. In Exodus 4:10 Moses said, “I am not eloquent.” He was saying, “Hey God, this isn’t my gift.” God responded in essence by saying, “Who made your mouth?” Ultimately, Moses was critiquing the way God had made him. In v13 of that passage, Moses begged God to send someone else. The next line in v14 says, “Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses …” Avoiding service by claiming that God didn’t put me together in a way appropriate for the task at hand is not wise. We don’t want God angry with us.

Again, I realize that there are many needs that we can’t address. However, often we don’t serve because of laziness (we don’t want to do it), faithlessness (we don’t believe God will enable us), and lovelessness. James 4:17 says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” The right thing more often than not is to serve, not look for a way out. Isn’t this simply following Jesus? Roll up your sleeves, quit griping and start serving.

7 Responses to “The Moses Syndrome”

  1. phfs9 Says:

    This was a good article to read and very well written I might add. Indeed there are those who are lazy or lack enough brotherly love to serve others in even the most simple or elemental way. But, it is always difficult for those of us who want to serve and just don’t know how or what to do. You can pray to God and ask for some guidance but many times He just doesn’t come down from Heaven and tap you on the shoulder to let you know what He wants you to do or send you an email and describe what He wans you to do. That would be the easy way. So, bottom line is, some of us suffer from wanting to but not knowing how to.

  2. Mark Says:

    Sande, most of the time I think ministry opportunities find us. I know you walk through those ministry doors when they open. The needy are around us all. The metaphorically, spiritually, and literally hungry and thirsty are asking for food and water. Our task is simply to love our neighbor.

    • phfs9 Says:

      I do indeed understand your reply. But, I must say, I do respect and maybe even envy just a bit those who have their gifts, know what to do with them and just how to do it. It has been my pleasure to have met some incredibly loving and caring people on my stroll through life including some at Bowman. They are the ones you never seem to forget who pop up in your head just automatically because of the way their soul shines through as they give and give to others. Perhaps my more selfish side is what keeps me from seeing what gift God has placed in my lap….maybe too much focus on me and not enough on others. It isn’t God I mistrust – it is me.

      • Mark Says:

        I think, for what that is worth, that giftedness and ministry are almost never cut and dried. This is why I wrote what I wrote. We always feel inadequate because we are inadequate in and of ourselves. Once we get out of the boat and out on the water we discover that the Lord is actually using a finite broken vessel.

  3. Terri J Says:

    Ouch–and AMEN!

  4. Al Roberts Says:

    A very good article and I would have to agree with Terry J, who says ouch, I believe you hit the nail right on the head. I don’t know how many times I’ve said the exact same thing, that I don’t feel gifted in an area and have failed to meet the need at hand. I hope that with this revelation I will be able to do better. Thanks Mark a real eye opener.

  5. Mark Says:

    Well, Al, I do the exact same thing.

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