One time my husband gave me the most fantastic gift ever.
On our thirteenth wedding anniversary, Nick seemed so excited about the gift he had for me. I was blessed to unwrap a scrabble board: with letters glued down to make them permanently stuck in the arrangement he’d placed it in. All the words used to fill the board were encouragements, attributes he wanted to affirm over me: leader, writer, passionate, loving, mother, kind, strong, beautiful.
The gift was the best ever — because it was the one I needed. Because it was specifically tailored to me, my personality and emotional needs. My husband understood that I was a words girl, needing encouragement through vivacious words, and often. I felt seen by him, the giver— and loved and known.
I honestly don’t deserve a lot of those words. This gift, it speaks much more to Nick than it does of me. It speaks to his intention, his grace, and his generosity. And so forever and always, that glued on scrabble board is going to mean a ton to me. It tells me who my husband is and reminds me of his ability to see me, see my emotional needs. It reminds me of his ability to affirm who God has made me to be.
If you think about it, the gift always speaks more about the giver than the receiver. When I tell you about that — the intentionality and the thoughtfulness behind the scrabble board — you probably don’t think: WOW. She must just be so impressive to conjure up a gift.
No, you’re just straight-up impressed by my husband right now. Just like I was! And that’s my point: a GREAT gift says far more about the giver than the receiver.
Likewise: God has given you a set of gifts. He has very specifically designed a set of strengths to plant inside you, with full knowledge of how they’d develop and how you would utilize them. He crafted each skill and every competence with purpose, with you in mind, not only for your good — but also for the way you will benefit others with your intentional set of strengths.
To discount what He’s given you, to neglect what our Father has planted inside of you, would essentially be to stiff arm the Giver of all good gifts. So let’s call it quits on that right now.
1 Timothy 4:14-16 says, “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
The Giver has given you an intentional set of strengths and to shirk them off, to hide them, to let them atrophy is the opposite of worship. It is honoring to our Father when you acknowledge what He’s given you — for the good of others and His glory.
To stand woefully before Him and all of the people and mourn that we don’t seem to have any gifts, that’s calling Him a bad Giver. That’s calling Him careless or thoughtless or insinuating that He’d have the capacity to skip one of us over — and all that I know to be true of God tells me that He can’t forget one of His kids. That He wouldn’t forget one of His kids.
The Giver has not forgotten you and He has not passed over you. It’s time to look with expectation and hopeful eyes, ready to see the strengths our Father has intentionally placed inside you because I know that they’re there.
And genuinely, to see our gifts and strengths as our accomplishments that we’ve built ourselves is wildly lacking in humility and acknowledgment of His love, affection, and work in our life.
It’s not humble to pretend He didn’t gift us or to pretend that we’re responsible for the gifts. We get to give credit where it’s due and use what He’s given – when He’s asked us to, for His glory.
And we don’t have to – but we get to – use these gifts for His glory and the good of others. So let’s get going.
Jess Connolly is the author of You Are the Girl for the Job and Dance, Stand, Run, and coauthor of Wild and Free and Always Enough, Never Too Much. She is also the founder of Go + Tell Gals, co-owner of All Good Things Collective print shop, and one of the founders of She Reads Truth. She and her husband lead Bright City Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where they live with their four children. She blogs at jessconnolly.com and you can follow her on Instagram.