Gifts in Community: Love & The Difference We Make, part 4

[You can check out the first three posts in this series here: 
Love & The Difference We Make, Collecting Strays, and No-Kill Shelter.]

There’s a lot more to the following story, but here’s the quick version. A few months ago, at the end of summer, I received a phone call from the chair of our deacon board at church. He was calling to ask if I’d consider accepting a nomination to be a deacon. A deacon.

My initial response was “Um, I’m sorry, did you not notice how young I am?”

Instead, I said, “Can I think about it and call you back?”

Now, before becoming a member of this church, I’d never even attended a church that had deacons, so you can imagine that I had a lot to think about.

Over the next week or two, the husband and I began to pray about it, realizing that a three-year commitment to anything is a big deal. Our deacons serve three years, and you could say that they do the work of the church. Though it’s primarily a pastoral care role, the deacons also help with some logistical and liturgical things: serving communion, praying the offertory, sending out letters to the church family about special events, etc.

But primarily it’s about people. Caring for people.

The truth is, I’d never spent much time trying to discern a path before. With most of my major life decisions, it’s not that I hadn’t sought advice, but I always mostly just went with my gut. (I’m a fan of the Holy Spirit working through my gut.) But for some reason, this seemed like a serious thing, and I needed help.

I called one of my best friends and told her. Her response was classic: “I think of old men when I think of deacons.” (Me, too, friend. Me, too.) And I kept praying about it.

I e-mailed my former pastor. She enthusiastically responded,  “Of course they’ve asked you to be a deacon. That’s who you are.” (Since I had served in myriad roles at our last church, including the “community, care, and crisis” coordinator for the twenty-somethings, I guess it made sense that she’d think this was a good idea.)

Then I asked my mom, who calls me every Saturday morning. She said something I think I’ll always remember: “Ever since you were a little girl,” she said, “that’s who you have been. You have always cared for people.” It kept bouncing around in my head. Ever since you were a little girl. 

And the dear husband kept reminding me about my habit of collecting stray people.

It seemed I couldn’t get away from it.

Because that’s what communities offer us, friends. They offer us help in discerning our gifts. Or, you might even say, they make it inevitable that our gifts will be used. They require it of us.

It’s when the church calls to ask if you’ll serve. It’s the friend saying “You’re not an old man, but yes, of course, that’s you.” It’s the mom saying, “Ever since you were a little girl…” It’s the husband saying, “Don’t you see that this makes sense?”

When you can’t ignore that discernment any more, you realize something.

You realize that your gifts aren’t yours at all.

They belong to your community.

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9 comments on “Gifts in Community: Love & The Difference We Make, part 4

  1. Marjorie Wallace says:


    I enjoyed reading your work. The Lord made you to serve Him and His people. So you are serving the Lord and the purpose He had for you. I thank God that people like you respond to His call and are willing to serve. God Bless you as you serve our Lord.

  2. Bonnie (Mom) says:

    I have loved watching and sharing in the life stages of my children from infants, toddlers, adolescents, teens, yound adults, spouses and now parents. I am so blessed and am learning so much from you!!

  3. Anne Rose says:

    As a member of Faith for 46 of it’s 49 years, YOU ARE A PERFECT EXAMPLE of what we have ALWAYS envisoned a deacon should be. We are proud to call you a true member of Faith!! We are lucky to have both of you as members! Hope it is long lasting!

    • elizabeth says:

      Thank you, Anne. I do know that Faith (the name of our church, for everyone else who skims these comments) was the first Baptist church in Kentucky to ordain women in the late 60s. It was certainly radical back then!

  4. Elaine says:

    William Wordsworth said, “The child is father of the man”. Our past, in other words, presents our future. I Cor. 12:7 “The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others”(CEV). God gives us the gifts – it is our responsibility to use them to further His kingdom – after all, He gave it to you! “Brick by brick, life by life, God is creating a kingdom, a spiritual house. He entrusted you with a key task in the project.” (Max Lucado, Cure for the Uncommon Life) Build, girl! You have the gift.

  5. elizabeth says:

    And thank you to everyone who has e-mailed me about this. I appreciate the encouragement, even if it’s not what I was seeking by writing the post! I hope you’ve taken some time to think about why I shared the story–to encourage YOU to think about the giftings you have, the calling YOU have, to your own community.

    Advent is the perfect time to consider what gift you have to offer. Remember the old song “In the Bleak Midwinter”? The chorus goes like this — What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.”

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