I was invited to speak at a one-week teenagers’ conference. This goes without saying that I was excited because I live for such moments. My sessions were super awesome through the week. So on the final night, they organized a huge bon-fire and invited a bunch of speakers. A young female pilot, an accountant, two counselors, other significant career models and beautiful introverted me. We were there, seated around this beautiful fire that created an impetus for conversation; talking and discussing real life issues. With such a fierce panel you wouldn’t expect anything less than wise counsel. This time my mind is on a rollercoaster. I had answers to the questions raised by these teenagers; beneficial counsel to back up my fellow speakers however my mouth wasn’t corresponding. I was just mute. It was quite a spectacle in my mind and I felt like laughing at myself.
“I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If foot said, “I’m not elegant like hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body.” Would that make it so? If ear said, “I’m not beautiful like eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine eye telling hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you?” Or head telling foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out?” As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way- the ‘lower’ the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
You are Christ’s body- that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your ‘part’ mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his ‘body’: apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, helpers, organizers and those who pray in tongues. But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional part? It’s not all apostle, not all prophet, not all miracle worker, not all healer, not all prayer in tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called ‘important’ parts. But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.”
1 Corinthians 12:14-31 (MSG)
You have probably heard me say this before (or not!) while talking about temperaments and the journey of discovering myself i.e. my strengths and weaknesses. I was always not comfortable with being the silent girl in an event, conversation or even fellowship. Sometimes it was so awkward when everyone in a conversation going on would contribute and give their say on the topic at hand, on the other hand I’m just there. It’s not once that I have asked myself why the heaven I was born an introvert. I watched people speak and admired how eloquent, bold and influential they were in front of an audience. And I’m not talking about speakers on TED-talks. Nah! I’m talking about my friends and people around my space. I especially looked at my extrovert friends and how beautiful their social lives were, how easily they would connect with anybody and everybody and build relationships there and then. I admired how they would walk into a room and suddenly there was life, sunshine, laughter, conversation, and all those nice nice things. Most importantly, I admired how that translated into their service in ministry.
But here’s the mistake we make as believers. We think ministry is only what surrounds the pulpit; preaching, worship, prophesying and more preaching. And so we compete to be up there forgetting that ministry is about service and about the hearts of people. Think of the quiet guy who is behind the controls at church, or the jovial lady who welcomes you at the door of church, or the funny talkative guy we love to see emceeing at church, or the men and women who open their homes to host guests who come for conferences, or even the man/woman who writes cheques behind the scenes to finance missions and church projects. Without all these different people, some at the forefront others behind the scenes, the body of Christ would not be complete.
In his book ‘Why You Act the Way you Do’ Tim LaHaye says, “…all four of the basic temperaments are needed for variety and purposefulness. No single temperament can be said to be better than another. Each one contains strengths and richness and yet each one is fraught with its own weaknesses and dangers”
Here are 3 pointers I want you to carry home:
A person’s purpose is like a huge big tree with very many roots going down. Your talent, gifts, career, passions, personality, temperament among other things are the roots that feed this magnificent tree. Therefore, don’t look down upon how you are wired. Because those unique traits that you have are important contributors to the assignment God has placed in your life to serve him with. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Eph. 2:10 (NIV)
Imagine if all of us were missioners, always travelling and reaching out? Who would remain to shepherd the local church? Who would serve our guests tea with a smile? Who would run ministry social media platforms? It would be disastrous! That is why God put different abilities and gifts in different people. Because we need all these different entities to have a beautiful blend in ministry. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…” –Rom. 12:6 (NIV)
A frequent question I always get asked, “Can our personalities change?” Consider a person who is quick-tempered by virtue of their temperament. When this person is filled with the Holy Spirit there’s a transformation that begins to take place that is not humanly influenced. Because “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” –Gal. 5:22 (NIV). If we allow, the Holy Spirit does work to strengthen our strengths and turn our weaknesses to be strengths.
My hope is that you will!