I spent a good bit of my 20s trying to figure out the best way to make an influence, help others, and make a difference for God. Wanting to find your “calling” (as many people call it) is an honorable pursuit, yet we should not stress ourselves over it. After wasting a lot of time worrying and trying out different ministries and occupations, I learned that not everyone has to be in traditional ministry and not everyone has to have extensive education. God can use anyone, anywhere, anytime He desires and gives us all various talents and gifts to reach various groups and places.
One of my biggest problems was that I tried to do what everyone else was doing to make a difference for God. This led me to take some seminary classes and another graduate-level class as well. The sad part is that I was a good writer and communicator, and I honestly didn’t want to do anything else rather than write and perform comedy/dramas. I also hate traditional school and never finished a degree above my bachelor’s. But I’m fine with that, and actually much happier than I would be having to go through school again.
Something else I learned was that I felt a little inferior since a lot of the people I was around at the time had master’s and doctorate degrees or worked in the ministry. Instead of God calling me to do the same, it was my insecurity and pride. I was so worried about making a difference for God that I didn’t realize I already was, doing what I do best.
Looking back, I already had a book published about my personal testimony and had a full-time job editing Bible study publications at that time. I have since edited dozens of Christian articles and books for other writers and publications, had columns in family-oriented magazines and papers as well as online, written scripts for church productions, and written several family-friendly movie scripts. Not to mention this very blog and using my graphic design skills at church.
Best of all, I am using talents that come naturally to me, that I enjoy, and that I honed through work that appealed to me and a simply four-year degree. I love that God can use my writing and comedy skills to help share His words. I also feel bad about not seeing so earlier and focusing on who I thought I should be instead of being thankful for fulfilling who He made me to be.
Sometimes we only think about preachers, teachers, musicians and missionaries when we consider working for the Lord. But it takes a lot of people to do God’s work in the church, and even more people to do His work outside of the church. For those of us who work outside the bounds of traditional ministry, we may be the only Jesus some people ever see. People who would never go to church will look to us and come to us for prayer and guidance when needed.
Just think about how crazy it would be if everyone in the world was a doctor. Sure, we would probably have less sickness and physical pain in the world. But who would handle people’s finances, fix cars, produce food, teach our children, or build construction (or even highlight my hair!)? It takes all kinds of different people to make the world go around, so why should we think it is any different for the church?
I was so worried about making a difference for God that I didn’t realize I already was, doing what I do best.
I heard a cool story in the news last week that is a perfect example of how God can use your natural talents for His greater work. A guy named Chris Baker came to Christ in his adult years and prayed, “God, show me what I can do to serve and bless people.” He started out by leading a youth group in painting artistic murals over gang graffiti on buildings. Then he realized that gangs also marked themselves with tattoos. A tattoo artist by trade, he offered to help cover up ex-gang members dark and destructive tattoos with beautiful works of art. INK 180 came to life.
When working with police to help former gang members one day, Chris was approached about also covering up the tattoo markings on human trafficking victims. He was saddened to find out that girls are typically tattooed by their captors so that if they are ever found, they can be tracked back and returned to their “owners.” These tattoos are sometimes names, but often barcodes that can be scanned with smart phones. INK 180 gives these girls back a sense of self-respect and beauty.
INK 180 also has a facebook page, and was recently featured on television. Just think of all the lives that have been and will be changed because a tattoo artist simply prayed (not worried) for God to use him. He didn’t try to be someone else or fill another role, but used his own passions and talents to meet an extraordinary need in an extraordinary way. And that is why I am delighted to share his story using my gift.