Have you ever felt like you are waiting to start your life and feel like there are so many directions you can go you don't know what to do first? I remember thinking like this several times in my life.
When I was graduating from high school, I contemplated the choice of college or career. I knew from the age of 11 I wanted to go into law enforcement but at 18, it seemed so many years away before I could even apply. So I got a job at McDonalds and quickly discovered I had a gift: Courage. I was fearless and would approach my employer asking for raises and promotions way before I deserved them. What I lacked in skill I quickly learned and continued to gain confidence and with that came opportunities. Within a few short months, I was running 2 stores and had gone to McDonald's University to learn about systems.
When I turned 20, I applied with LA County Sheriff Department (bottom right in photo), and painfully failed to overcome physical and emotional challenges that plagued me from my past. When I tearfully was let go, I licked my wounds, and over the next year recovered from one of the most heart-wrenching failures of my life. When I confidently returned to the academy one year later I discovered I had another gift: Leadership. When the staff tried to tear me down, I responded with confidence. When they attempted to embarrass me before my pears, I lead them to victory. Together my courage and leadership increased my confidence and fearlessly I received many unique opportunities to lead and teach others throughout my 25 years on the force.
A few opportunities I had were to teach new cadets at the Sheriff's academy. I also worked as a Training Officer who mentored and taught new patrol deputies how to work safely and confidently in their duties. When I was promoted to Sergeant I trained newly hired deputies assigned to the Jails. I created curriculum and provided "out of the box" opportunities for others to learn and gain experience prior to going to patrol. I had discovered another gift: Teaching.
When I was injured on the job and forced to retire I went back to school to learn to be a therapist. I was the oldest in my class and learned quickly that my courage, leadership, and teaching abilities could be used to help my classmates. I began organizing study groups and found myself surrounded by young classmates who were eager to hear the stories of my past as well as learn skills they had not even known about. I learned I had yet one more gift: Encouragement.
All of us have gifts but most of us don't look at our lives through the leans of finding them. I had always suspected what my gifts were, but it wasn't until many years later when I completed a spiritual gifts questionnaire at church and read a book called StrengthQuest (https://www.strengthsquest.com/home.aspx) that confirmed these four gifts were mine. There are many tests available that can be taken that will offer you an idea of what your gifts are. I have taken many of these quizzes and have found my 4 gifts ring true every time. A gift is not a talent but they can compliment each other. My confidence in my personal athleticism opened many opportunities for me in the world of sports. My courage, leadership, teaching, and encouragement has let me mentor and lead others and these gifts are the foundation that built Encouragers Counseling & Training Centers, Inc.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work."
1 Corinthians 12 (NIV)
I suggest you also explore what special gifts you might have and then put them to use. When you are serving from your gifts, it's natural and more enjoyable. When you are using your gifts you will have maximum impact on the people around you and the things you attempt will be a joy to accomplish.
Day 43: Gifts