Monday, January 14, 2019

The Greatest Ability

Have you ever observed someone excelling at a skill or talent and thought, “Gee, I wish I could do that!”? Maybe it’s a gifted speaker who holds audiences captivated. Or a wonderful singer whose music stirred your soul. Perhaps an artist whose work spoke deeply to you. It might have been a craftsman or handyman whose ability to build something beautiful or to execute a difficult repair left you amazed.

In high school, I played drums and percussion in the marching, concert and dance bands, and had the good fortune to be a part of an exceptional musical organization that went on to win many honors. But my personal abilities as a not-little drummer boy never advanced beyond average. Wishing I could have done better, I’ve always been mesmerized watching drummers’ sticks fly across the tom-toms and cymbals. 

We’ve probably all at times wished we had some ability that we lacked, but did you know that the greatest ability of all is something we each can possess?

You might have already heard it from other sources, but as a friend of mine used to say years ago: “The greatest ability is availability.”

Even the most celebrated ability has little value if the possessor is unable or unwilling to use it. It’s sad if God entrusts us with a gift or talent and, when opportunity knocks, we wait for someone else to open the door. Oswald Chambers writes a need does not constitute a call. However, if the Lord has indeed called us to do certain things, it’s more than an obligation to respond – it’s our privilege, and our joy.

Back in the early ‘80s, I was introduced to the strategy of one-on-one discipling, following Jesus’ command to “go into all the world and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:19). Most of my own spiritual training to that point had come through hearing sermons, reading the Bible on my own, and participating in a small discipleship group that consisted of about a dozen men and women.

All of those were very beneficial, but I could imagine how helpful it would have been to meet regularly with another man, more mature in his faith, who could help me – perhaps as a mentor – to grow into the person I knew God wanted me to become. 

So I started praying for the Lord to send just one man my way, someone I could invest time and energy in to assist in his growth. Since I had never done anything like that before, I had no idea how effective I could be at it. But I was willing to give it a try. Basically I was telling God, “I don’t know how much ability I have for this, but if You want me to do it, I’ve available.”

Within two months of starting to pray this way, He led me to two men. I met with both of them individually for more than a couple of years, and one I remain in contact with today, more than 30 years later. And in the years afterward, God has brought numerous other men into my life to disciple, some for relatively brief periods of time, others for years.

Perhaps discipling someone else, even a younger person, is what God would like you to do as well. It doesn’t matter how much ability you have. The question is, are you available?

On the other hand, maybe engaging in making disciples one-on-one isn’t what the Lord has put on your heart, but I guarantee there is something – even some things – He is calling you to do. God can easily give you the ability. But do you have the availability?

In 1 Peter 4:10 the apostle writes, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in various forms.” What are you good at? What gives you joy when doing it in conjunction with others? What opportunities does the Lord seem to be sending your way? What enables you to bear spiritual fruit when you do it?

Even if you’re not certain about how much ability you have for doing something you’re feeling called to do, that’s of small consequence. What matters is whether you’re willing to say, “Lord, I’m available.” Or as the prophet declared, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). 

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