Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spiritual Gift Testamonies: Shepherding

I suppose it's time I share with you all my own spiritual gift journey.  As I have been restudying the gifts and reading everyone else's stories about their main gifts (this is the last call for submissions btw,)  I have cornered myself into reevaluating my own gift, or gifts.

A year ago last fall I took the test and found my top gifts looked something like this: faith, intercession, shepherding, and wisdom.

The following spring I took it again and received similar answers except this time mercy was very high up on the list.  Throughout that whole summer I really embraced mercy and thought it was definitely one of my main gifts, and for that season--it was.

A year later here I am taking spiritual gift tests again and mercy is back where it used to be, while faith, intercession, wisdom, and shepherding are all tied on three different tests, just as they were a year ago.
How interesting is that?

If you were to ask me my main gift I would say shepherding, but I'm not real sure why because I have four that rotate at the top of my list.  I guess I say shepherding because it incorporates the other three gifts within itself, where as the others are more separated.  

I may not know a whole ton about shepherding, but I know what it looks like it my life, and that is what I am going to share today.


I was about to put the definition into my own words, but then I googled it, and this fits much better.  In fact, I actually sat still for a few minutes after reading it, because this explains me so well.  What an interesting feeling, to be described by something outside of yourself or someone who knows you...anyhow, here is the definition of shepherding according to Gifted2Serve:

"The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume a long-term personal responsibility for the welfare of a group of believers."
This gift is a leadership gift.  This gift is often called "pastor," however, that name has a connotation of a specific position in the church.  In actuality, when pastors have this gift, their ability to continue sustained growth in their churches is greatly diminished, as they tend to require a certain level of interaction with every member of their congregation.  
Those with the gift of shepherding have a great need for long-term relationships.  Shepherds will sacrificially give themselves to other people in such a way that they are built-up in their faith.  Shepherds take personal responsibility for the successes and failures of those in the group that they invest themselves in.
Scriptures: John 10:1-18, Ephesians 4:11-14; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Peter 5:1-4"

That explains it all I feel like.  In fact, now that I am thinking about it, I wonder if faith, intercession, and wisdom are products of this gift.  It kind of seems like those three add to this one.  I'm not sure, but I love how God designed me.  I love how he designed you, and how each of us are so totally different!

I often think of my personality as a puppy dog.  I want to make friends with everyone I meet, and I want those people to be my very best friends for as long as we are both alive.  This is a wonderful way to live life, until it comes to deciding who will be the bridesmaids at your wedding.  (I am convinced there will have to be at least 53 at mine.)

Anyhow, part of this personality trait really seems to explain shepherding.  When I start investing in someone, I feel responsible for that person forever.  I have some friends from high school who live hundreds of miles away now, but I still keep pretty regular communication with them because I feel like it is my duty to give them spiritual direction.  (Doesn't make a lot of sense, I know.)

How God Uses It Daily
God definitely places these people over and over in my life though. When a huge storm blows in, they are quick to call me for who knows why, and I love pouring out scripture, encouragement, and direction into their lives.

One of my dearest friends I met in high school when she was a freshmen and I was a junior.  I took her under my wing and have loved her with all my heart since we met.  She is now thriving in college, going on mission trips and loving people till it hurts.  I still talk to her weekly and intend to do so forever and ever, (despite other advice I have received.)

I love her and besides being her friend, I do feel responsible for her
spiritual wellness forever.  God speaks to me about her, through her, and for her.  She is always in my prayers.  We share books, stories, and laughter through God-glorifying time together and phone calls.  I take joy in every step she takes closer to Jesus.  When God shows me something she needs to work on, I pray about it, call her, point it out, and she usually agrees that God has been showing her the exact same thing.  She is my sheep.

As wonderful and life-giving to me as this is, I am beyond blessed...because I have another little sheep too! This one is much younger and much different.  We met through sheep one and God used me to pour some dating sense into her head.  She saw that God had his hand on me and wanted more of this God.

She now meets with me once a week and we talk all about God's goodness, grace and mercy while I lead her through healing, redemption, and God's love.  Although Satan tries to strip her from me often, we both know deep down that this is a forever thing.

God placed me over her through and through.  I love her, and I take joy in watching her grown, fall, learn, and love.  While I am supposedly the shepherd, she has helped me grow equally as much.  I can not wait until she starts reproducing disciples! She shares Jesus with everyone she knows, and this makes my time and commitment to her worth while.

Often times I feel like a slacker because I do not run around witnessing to people everywhere I go.  For a while I said it was because I wasn't made that way, and for another time I said I just can't stand to sell people stuff.  Don't get me wrong, I love Jesus with all my heart, I'm just not real into pressuring them into making decisions and shoving tracks down there throats.

But lately God has really helped me work through all this.  For one thing, I have found out that just like Kaity, I do not have the main gift of evangelism, so I will never be like people who do.  That's fine, because God made this way for a reason.

On the other hand, he has made it very clear that I am to be bolder in sharing my faith and asking others if they would like to love God the way I do.  This has been an excitingly amazing fun awesome great stupendous adventure the last couple of weeks. I'm still working on it, but I love it.  

While I love people and share my belief and hope with them quite often, I rarely see souls come to the Lord. I pray and pray like nobody's business, sharing and hoping and asking them to receive this life-changing gift, but these are long term prayers that take time to fully grow.  I enjoy every bit of the process though.

I say this, because the fact is, if I went to the mall and met ten new people and led each of them to Christ, I would be above and beyond my heart's capacity.  Because of my long-term mindset and shepherding gift set, I know I would have a huge desire to disciple each and every one of these ten believers, and not just for a little bit, but for a lifetime.  While this is wonderful and pleasing to God, we all know it is humanly impossible.

If I failed to faithfully disciple all of these believers for their entire lives, I know I would feel responsible for their spiritual walks...leading to my guilt and shame to circumstances I have no control over.

Now I realize why God gives me certain people to focus on long-term, rather than using me to lead the masses to him through evangelism.  Thank you Jesus for making me the way you want me.  I love you, I love this gift, and I love how I can use it to serve you. :) 

So faith, intercession and wisdom are poured out of me and onto my sheep.  

A few weeks ago I was freaking out as many young women do when they think about things for some period of time.  Stressed and anxious I asked God, "What do you want me to do!?  I'm so lost and confused. Please..God, I don't know....."

"Feed my sheep."

That's all he said.  My heart was silenced and I could say no more.  I tried to open my mouth, but all I could hear was,

Feed my sheep.

"Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. 
Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood."
Acts 20:28