God has blessed us all with different talents, and sometimes, it might feel like other people’s abilities are better or more useful than your own. I know I have felt like this at times, and I recently felt this when I was with my family and our pontoon boat broke down.
Struggling to Find Your Strengths
My family has a small lake house, and every summer we go out on the water to swim, fish, and float. Our boat is from the 1990s, and it isn’t always the most reliable. We have broken down before, but we had never broken down this far from the dock.
We had set out for the afternoon with eight people, a dog, floaties, fishing poles, and coolers full of food and drinks. We decided to take a lap around the lake before stopping to swim, but we didn’t make it around the lake. We had just reached the farthest point from our dock when the boat sputtered and stopped running. All of us just froze and looked around, fearing that we might be stuck out on the water.
Discovering Your Strengths
Although there were eight people on the boat, there were only four paddles, and we started to realize how difficult it was going to be to get back to shore. We started debating who was going to swim back and who would have to paddle. But then the boat started to take on water.
During our discussion, we had all moved to the front of the boat, and there had been too much weight there. Now part of our stuff was floating in the water, and our dog was trying desperately to get in the lake. We quickly rearranged how we were standing on the boat, caught the dog, and tried to get the remaining water out of the boat.
I am a horrible swimmer, and I would probably have had a panic attack if I had to swim that far, so it was decided that I needed to stay and help paddle. I grabbed a paddle and got to work, but I wasn’t helping move the boat very much. I don’t have much upper body strength, and that made it very difficult for me to paddle for that long.
As I paddled, I felt more and more discouraged as I struggled to keep up with the others. I began feeling weak and useless. These thoughts consumed my head as we headed back to the dock: I can’t swim back because I am such a bad swimmer, and I can hardly paddle back because I’m weak. So, what am I good for?
I’m sure many of us have had this thought, and I’ve also had this thought when I’m trying to spread God’s Word. I’m not a very confident person, and when I get nervous, I talk a lot and I talk really fast. I also get especially nervous when I talk about a particular topic that people have different views on. So I’m extra anxious trying to spread God’s Word with nonbelievers and individuals in other religions.
My words come out rushed and jumbled, and most of the time, the other person looks very confused when I’m done talking. This look of confusion makes me wonder if I’m really helping God at all or if I’m just making people more confused and unsure of Him.
Using Your Strengths
I have found that I have other talents I can use to benefit God. I love talking and I love reading, so I volunteer to read the Scripture verses during the service at my church. The verses act as my script, and all I have to do is read off the paper. I enjoy doing this, and I’m spreading God’s Word in a way that utilizes my strengths.
God has given each of us a unique set of skills, and every one of them is useful. It might take a while to discover what your strengths are, but they are all necessary and beneficial no matter how big or small. I challenge you to push yourself out of your comfort zone just a bit and try to seek out other ways to serve the Lord.
For example, if you also get nervous when you’re talking, then maybe volunteer to do something that doesn’t involve talking. You can help during the offering collection at your church, help upkeep a church campus by weeding flower beds or cutting grass, or volunteer to clean the sanctuary. These jobs all help the Church to continue spreading the Word of God, are necessary tasks, and are usually in need of volunteers.
If you are searching for ways to utilize your strengths, then reach out to your pastor, church secretary, or other congregation members to see how your gifts can be used to help. We are all capable of serving the Lord, but we all have different ways of doing it, and one way is not more valuable than the other.
We finally made it back to the dock after about 45 minutes of paddling. That wasn’t the first time I’ve had to paddle that boat back, and it won’t be the last. But I don’t criticize myself now when I’m paddling back, because swimming and paddling aren’t my strengths. And that’s okay—because God gave each of us our particular strengths for a reason.
Complete every act of service in Christ’s image. Download Connected to Christ: Witnessing in Everyday Life.