We were getting ready to go somewhere, and I'd sent Chloe to her room to get her shoes on. She loves putting on her own shoes, so you can imagine my surprise when I heard her start crying and screaming. I walked into her room and immediately discovered the cause of the problem: she was trying to put Cole's shoes on her feet.
At the time, Chloe was 2 years old. Cole was 9 months. Obviously, there's going to be a slight size difference.
"What are you doing? You can't wear Cole's shoes."
"I want to."
"Because I like his shoes."
"But his shoes don't fit you."
"But I want to wear them!"
The rest of the discussion quickly devolved until she was lying on the floor crying while I put her shoes on her feet for her. I saw in Chloe's situation a parallel that is all too familiar in churches and in the Christian life.
Many people are frustrated and upset because they're trying to put on themselves something that neither belongs to them, nor fits them. I'm not talking about trying to wear someone else's shoes, I'm talking about trying to assume someone else's spiritual gifts.
God gives his children certain spiritual gifts. These spiritual gifts are not the same for each person. Yet each spiritual gift is given as a way of equipping God's children to function as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
Unfortunately, many people are not happy with the spiritual gifts they have. They look around at others, see the spiritual gifts they have, and want those instead. They try to develop those spiritual gifts in their own lives, thereby neglecting the spiritual gifts they do have, and what is the result? They are ineffective, frustrated and miserable because they cannot make another's spiritual gifts fit them.
I once had custom arch supports made for my feet. I'd tried the ones in the store, the cookie-cutter arch supports that were made the same, regardless of who wore them. They never helped me. But when I put the custom supports in my shoes, the ones that had been made specifically for me, it was an entirely different experience. They were comfortable. They fit me perfectly. They gave me support exactly where I needed it.
That's how spiritual gifts are. They are custom-built by God for you. You cannot "wear" another's quite like they can, nor can another "wear" yours quite like you can.
So don't worry about other people's gifts. Stop thinking about what gifts they have that you don't. Wear the gifts your heavenly father has given you, and let him use you as only he can.
Parrish Myers is pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church in Gainesville. His column runs every other week in Sunday Life.