by Rev. Margaret Marcuson for The Christian Citizen

Someone gave me a silicone bread bowl for my birthday. You can make, rise, and bake bread all in the same container. I’ve made a simple no-knead bread in it more than once, and it’s fantastic! I feel a little guilty that it’s so easy. Is it really homemade bread if you don’t have to work hard at it? Evidently so! My family raved about it.

I find that many people disregard their own gifts and accomplishments because they are too easy. It’s like breathing to them. It’s not hard for them to be good at fixing things, entertaining children, running a mile, throwing a party. “It’s easy,” they say, while others look on in awe. Is it really valuable if you don’t have to work hard at it?

I once watched a church member in her 80s take what seemed to me like a clump of flowers, put them in a vase, take two minutes and move them around into a lovely bouquet. “How did you do that?” I asked. “Oh, it’s nothing,” she said. It didn’t seem like nothing to me. My flower arranging efforts look more like I threw the vase at the flowers than an “arrangement.”

What’s easiest for you, and can you do more of it? What are you most gifted at and can you shift your responsibilities and commitments at least a little in that direction?

I know, I know, we don’t always get to do what is easy or what we love most or are most gifted at. The jobs we’re paid for don’t always fit our gifts. In addition, during the last year extroverts have had to handle days of alone time, and technophobes have had to figure out how to record and/or stream worship. Now we’re all figuring out how to adapt to the changing pandemic environment, and it isn’t always easy.

However, grim determination and obligation only take you so far, and will wear you out. Everyone I talk to is tired already. I’m recommending to those I coach that they look for the things that are joyful and energizing at work. I’m aiming to practice what I preach, too.

Remember: if it’s fun, that doesn’t mean it’s not work. It could be that’s exactly the place you are called to contribute right now. Could you do more of what is fun and easy and less of what is hard and a struggle?

It’s biblical! Paul says in Romans 12:6-8, “We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.” It’s not cheating to exercise your greatest gifts, which will be what come easiest.

Here are a few questions to consider:

  1. What do you love to do most?
  2. What are you best at?
  3. How could you do more of both, at least a little?

The Rev. Margaret Marcuson helps ministers do their work without wearing out or burning out, through ministry coaching, presentations and online resources.