When I was very young I wanted to be a doctor. I’m not really sure why, but it’s a distant memory now. The fact that I wasn’t very academic when it came to the sciences or maths pointed me in a different direction. As a child and teenager, I was always writing, whether it was short stories or daily logs in my fluffy pink (padlocked) diary. I didn’t know then that God was developing talents and gifts in me for my future. I am grateful to my parents and the people who have crossed my path who have nurtured and encouraged these gifts in me. As a mother, I could see that all my children possessed very different gifts at young ages. Now that they are adults, they too have started to use them in various ways.
Working in Communications for the Diocese of Southwark these past eight months has been a roller-coaster of a journey. I thought I knew the Church of England well but, of course, I didn’t. I only knew it as a parishioner. It’s been a steep and challenging learning curve. Yet, I am enjoying the journey because I know I’m where God wants me to be. Despite being in lockdown for a lot of my time here, I have met (mostly virtually) many wonderful people from across the Diocese who are using the gifts and talents God has given them to make a difference in their parishes and communities. They have inspired me, made me laugh, and sometimes cry as I’ve been so moved by their stories. As a team, we are privileged to share their stories widely through the various Diocesan platforms and more widely to the media.
As people of God, how do we know what our gifts and talents are? Once we do know, how can we use them to serve him for the Kingdom? How do we differentiate between spiritual gifts God has given us and the talents we possess? Or are they one and the same? I believe that through prayer, discernment and reflection, the Lord will show us and guide us.
Most of us are called by God to use our gifts and talents exactly where we are, right now in our day-to-day lives. Others are called to ministry. I attended two services at the Cathedral recently, a couple of weeks apart. One was the ordination service of people becoming Deacons in the Diocese, and the other was a celebration service for the Southwark Pastoral Auxiliaries (SPAs). I found both services uplifting and moving.
The Deacons on the threshold of ministry made vows committing their lives to the priesthood. At the SPA celebration, prayers were said for retiring SPAs, who had dedicated many years to this ministry. Prayers were also said for those who had died and those at the start of their ministries. Both groups, the Deacons and SPAs, have responded to God’s call to serve him. They come from all walks of life and bring hugely varying life experiences with a mosaic of gifts, contributing, in different ways, to the needs of the communities around them. Perhaps God is calling you to ordination or lay ministry. Or maybe you have been thinking about taking the Bishop’s Certificate. If he is, why not consider pursuing this further with either our Vocations Team or Lay Ministry team? Find out more here.
Let’s be bold in using our gifts in whatever way the Lord has called us to. Be encouraged by these words from 1 Peter 4:10-11: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”