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Sufficient Grace

    by Shelly Weiss

Character Trumps Potential
Date Posted: April 30, 2007
A few months ago, I declared to several people that I would be on a different career path by the second week of June. (I am taking a week to live on the beach on the one year anniversary of my beloved cat, Seminole’s passing.) The plan is to do some quality writing during that somber period to use my heartache for positive, productive material. My declaration was more than merely ‘wishful thinking,’ rather, I felt the time was set from above. Hard to explain, yet I still believe somehow, someway, something will happen to take me on a different path this summer. My entire life (at least as far back as I remember), psychology has been a passionate interest of mine. I mean even before college, I’d read the Dictionary of Psychology for fun, and books about Sigmund Freud were in my beach bag while friends had Seventeen and Cosmo. My point here is psychology and counseling has been planted in my heart since childhood with the interest growing through the years… until recently. I still love, okay – like psychology… it’s the individual counseling that has lost its appeal. Perhaps I am burned out. Receiving regular mailings about psychological seminars, institutes, and books invoke an emotional response of dread (and even despair) as I reflect on all I invested in my career… the college, grad school, astronomical student loan bill, time, books, licensures, continuing education credits, etc… I wish I could exchange my degrees for something else, like a ‘wild card’ for the career of my choice to try for a set period to see if it’s a right fit. I know, it doesn’t work that way. The church sermon this morning addressed this very issue, at least what I heard. (It always amazes me how I hear something completely different from friends who hear the same sermon!) As I was catching up with a lady from my Bible study before the service, I told her I just posted my resume on Monster.com because I know I am not using my gifts, nor fulfilling my potential at my current job. I also said I was having trouble telling some people from my home church ‘no’ as they continually ask me to donate time and skills. Don’t get me wrong; I am a firm believer that God gives us skills, time, and gifts to give back to the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11,12). Yet as I told my friend, I believe there is a balance and I consider my writing Bible Studies for the church paper as my (primary) way of serving. The church is toying with the idea of starting a disability ministry and I have spent the last three years contributing in numerous ways, hoping my investments would lead to them hiring me for the church staff. Well, the more I ‘volunteer,’ the less they need my expertise… after all, why pay me for what I donate to them free of charge? Anyway, I finished explaining this to my friend just as the sermon began. Guess what the sermon was about? I will sum it up in two concepts: 1. The more gifted you are, the more circumspection is needed when using your gifts (meaning don’t get distracted from using what God gives you to be the person He created you to be). 2. Character is more important than using our gifts and maximizing our potential. Without character, maximizing our potential through the use of our gifts can be self-destructive. Pastor Isaac used Samson as an example, where he used his strength and charisma to disobey God and looked for a king based on outward appearances (1 Samuel 16:7). Then, Pastor Isaac said something that was incredibly powerful… look at Jesus – He did not use His gifts to get out of dying on the cross… instead, He obediently kept His focus on doing the Father’s will. (Isn’t that amazing?!) Pastor Isaac’s point was sometimes God keeps us in a position where we do not maximize our potential to work on our character… (and this part is my opinion) promoting us without developing our character would be like promoting a failing student because of his age. More ongoing harm is done placing the individual in a position of which he or she is unprepared as opposed to retaining him or her until the mental and moral qualities are developed. Therefore, while May is only a day away, I am confident that God is preparing me for my new path. The Israelites had to take the long route to reach their destination (Exodus 13:17,18) for their own good, so I am confident the route God leads me on is for my best interest. Maybe He’s showing me the importance of doing my best regardless of what I am doing. Or He could be teaching me to keep a joyful spirit in spite of my circumstances. He could be prompting me to continue working hard until I finish this chapter in my life rather than walking away when the job is no longer satisfying (2 Corinthians 8:11). Maybe He is showing me how to persevere for eternal rewards instead of immediate gratification (1 Corinthians 15:58). Then again, He could be prompting me to do my part in my career change rather than leaving everything (including my part) to Him. His reasoning is really not my business. Trusting His timing and faithfully following Him is my only concern.

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Biography Information:
Shelly is a 30 something year old licensed therapist with cerebral palsy who is transitioning onto a whole new path in her life. As someone who was never limited by her disability, through recent declines in her health and abilities, God is humbling her despite her stubborn resistance. She is closer to Jesus than she ever has been as He carries her with His strength, protects her with His armor, and empowers her with His Spirit.She uses her writing and speaking gifts to fulfill her ultimate purpose of bringing glory to God through her life.
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