Over the last few days I’ve been toting around these three books: a green government notebook, a small-narrow black Bible, and a small-but-wide devotional book, Strength for Service.
And it’s bothered me. Why? These books just don’t seem to “stack” rightly. The green notebook fits neatly as the biggest of the three and as first in order of “rank.” But the other two do not comfortably fit by size or rank. No matter how I stack them, the one I put on top overhangs the other—giving the impression that I’ve got the “order” wrong. So I find myself constantly switching them—first, the Bible on top, then the devotional on top.
While preoccupied with this trivial matter, something dawned on me. Books are not the only things which have different configurations, making them difficult to stack or rank from the least to the greatest. People cannot be ranked so easily either.
Now I’m not talking about a person’s physical size or body configuration. I’m referring to the configuration of a person’s gifts and talents—his or her attributes, abilities, quirks, and shortcomings.
We’ve all been victims in the past of those personality type indicators—the ones that measure and rank us against the “model human being”—who usually bears a striking resemblance to the guy who created the personality test.
Or, maybe, we weren’t ranked in so formal a manner. Perhaps, in our school days, the captains of softball teams consistently picked us last for the team. Maybe we felt hopelessly inadequate in art class or mediocre in English composition.
Weak and Strong
But we need to remember this. Failing in one arena only means that we will flourish in another. We may experience many failures as we seek to discover the personal gifts and abilities that God’s given us. But if we persevere we’ll uncover our attributes and abilities. And once we’ve discovered our areas of greatness we’ll realize how foolish it is to rank people from weak to strong or from best to worst.
The fact is, comparing people is much like comparing apples and oranges. They both have their distinctive qualities, taste, and nutrients. But no one can truly say that one is better, tastier, or more beautiful than the other.
Each person is the handiwork of God and, as no two snowflakes that have ever fallen are alike, no two of God’s children are alike. People cannot and should not be ranked by their perceived importance, indispensability, or smarts.
Our gifts may not be so apparent or appreciated by others. But God has specialized us for some divine purpose that He Himself considers very important. We dare not dismiss ourselves, our contributions, or the mission to which God has called us.
Dear Father in heaven, sometimes I feel like the weakest link, the dumbest student, or the least of God’s people. Please make me understand how You feel about me and help me to discover and use the gifts You’ve given me to do the work to which You’ve called me. Amen.