Paul’s first analogy holds no punches, putting us on the front line—managers rather than masters of our world, but his second analogy calls us to be like …
Athlete’s Training—Not everyone is as lucky or as cursed to have Michael Phelps’ training regimen which became famous during the 2012 London Olympics as he was reportedly eating about 12,000 calories a day. Simone Biles who worked over the competition was reported as completing 18 workouts a week to bring home the gold. We live in a 24/7 Sporting world, radio, television so we can connect with Paul’s words: (2 Timothy 2:5) Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.
Just because we have been given time, talents, and treasure, how do we actually go about discerning and cultivating what we have? Have you ever noticed how easy it is for someone to call themselves an athlete? You can buy some clothes that say Nike, some running shoes, and suddenly everyone is an athlete. It is part of their marketing strategies; they want as many people as possible to feel a certain way when they wear their clothes. Yet, just dressing for the part, doesn’t give you a role—part of being an athlete is training to compete. What does training to discern and cultivate our calling mean. Rick Warren, pastor at Saddleback Church put together a helpful acronym bringing together all the pieces: SHAPE—Where you fit into what God needs. What are your spiritual gifts, what are you passionate about-HEART, where do you have abilities, what is your personality like, and what experiences have you had? You don’t want to be the head of the guest services if you have a personality that makes you terrified of talking to new people. You don’t want to be working on the worship band if people cringe when you do karaoke. We want to you to be able to serve where you are being supplied with strength. That is one side of it, but the other side is having talents and failing to use them.
In his book The Pursuit of Excellence, Ted Engstrom wrote these words: I was cleaning out a desk drawer when I found a flashlight I hadn’t used in over a year. I flipped the switch, but wasn’t surprised when it gave no light. I unscrewed it and shoot it to get the batteries out, but they wouldn’t budge.
“Finally, after some effort, they came loose. What a mess! Battery acid had corroded the entire inside of the flashlight. The batteries were new when I’d put them in, and I’d stored them in a safe, warm place. But there was one problem. Those batteries weren’t made to be warm and comfortable. They were designed to be turned on — to be used.
It’s the same with us. We weren’t created to be warm, safe and comfortable. You and I were made to be ‘turned on’ — put our love to work, to apply our patience in difficult, trying situations — to let our light shine.”
Serving outside of our SHAPE, or failing to serve at all is the quickest way to become corrosive, it is the quickest way to become critical, and it is the fastest way to become inactive—when what you were created to be the light of the world. You see Jesus in John 8:12 referred to himself as the light of the world but he also said in Matthew 5:16, You are the light of the world. We get to share the light by reflecting the source of light! When that corrosive feeling starts to creep in, when you are tempted to start burning through relationships, or turning to hit the road—stop and think about instead turning on the light and answering your calling. There is no better way to cultivate your calling than to get involved, harness your gifts, and begin your training!