Natalie: [00:00:00] Hey, welcome back to the Dwell Differently podcast. I'm your host, Natalie Abbott, and I’ve got Vera with me right now.
Vera: Here I am. It's me. Your cohost, Vera.
Natalie: Hey, V. So we are talking about God giving us gifts to serve others as expressions of his various forms of grace for his glory.
Vera: This verse is good. It's real good. I'm gonna read the whole thing. Can I do that?
Natalie: You're not gonna recite it? You don't have it memorized? I have this way that you can memorize things. You take the first letter of every word in the verse…
Vera: No. I do have it memorized, although one part trips me up every single time.
Natalie: What part?
Vera: I'm gonna read the whole thing and then I'll tell you what messes me up.
Natalie: All right. All right.
Vera: “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.” That comes from 1 Peter 4:10. I always want to say, “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve one another,” instead of “to serve others as faithful stewards.”
Natalie: Yes, I have a similar trip up on this one because I memorized it in a different version awhile back, and it is, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its varied forms.”
Vera: It's a very slight difference. Well, can I just say that originally I was not wild about this design because it was a tiny bit cheesy to me. Even though I said, “Hey, let's do this.” But now I actually really love this design. I think it's super fun.
The letters are in a square and it's got a bow on the top of it, so it's like a little present.
Natalie: It’s like a little present, which is exactly what God's grace is to us. Yes. It's actually a really, really awesome present.
Vera: The best present ever.
Natalie: It's like when I gave my kids a Nintendo [00:02:00] Switch and they didn't think that they were getting that, and literally one of my kids, the one who wanted it the most, started crying.
Vera: I didn't know that story. Maybe we need to ask what's the best gift you've ever received?
Natalie: Okay. I'm not gonna tell that story. Instead, I'm gonna tell you the best gift I've ever given, which was that. I will say that I went overboard as a mom, and that's why this happened. It was because my son had wanted a Nintendo Switch really badly, and he was already older, like he was in middle school and literally every one of his friends already had some kind of gaming system.
And so he had asked for this gaming system. And he's one of those kids who he'll ask you one time, I think he asked me when he was like in second grade, and I said “no”. And so he took that to heart and he never asked again. He’s that kid and so I asked him what he wanted for Christmas.
And he was like, “Well, there is this one thing that I really want.” And I was like, what is it?” And he said, “Oh, you already said no to it.”
Vera: 17 years ago…Ha!
Natalie: And so I was like, oh, buddy, yeah, we could talk about that. So he's explaining it to me and telling me all the things.
And then in his mind he is like, “I'm totally getting this! My mom is gonna get this for me and it's gonna be awesome!” And there is something innate in me that hates when my kids know what they're getting. So he kept talking about it like he already had it.
Well, so when, one of the times that he said that, I was said, “Oh, did you say Nintendo Switch? I thought you were talking about another handheld one.” I can't remember if it was a Game Boy or what it was at the time but it was totally not the same thing.
And so I'm like, “Oh, I thought that's what you were talking about.” And he's like, “Oh, I mean, that would be great. That would be great, Mom. I would love that too…” And his mind. He thought he was gonna get that handheld thing. And then when he opened the Switch, I mean, it was for all the kids, but it was in his lap, because I said “I think J should open this one.”
[00:04:00] He just got these big teary eyes and he was like, “Oh, you got it!” Oh my gosh, with his reaction, I knew I had gone too far!
Vera: You went too far.
Oh, that's wonderful though. I mean, Receiving gifts; I know that there's the whole love language thing. You know, about how you receive love. I am a gift receiver. I love gifts.
Natalie: Ha! I Thought you were gonna say giver.
Vera: I do enjoy giving gifts, but I really like receiving gifts. I got no shame. Other people like quality time or acts of service. Me? No, just give me a present. I would love a present.Is that bad? I don't know.Something tangible that I can open. It doesn't have to be big. I mean, it can be the tiniest thing. I really receive gifts well.
Natalie: I think I kind of knew that about you, but I don't think I've ever heard you vocalize that.
Vera: Even if it's a, a note on a piece of paper, a tangible note, I will save that. I will save that and treasure it.
Natalie: Okay. I'm wondering if you've ever saved any little notes that I gave you?
Vera: I actually have one in my drawer. Oh yeah.
Natalie: Okay. I feel like I should write you more notes now.
Vera: I treasure them.
Natalie: I actually really love this design because when you think about what God has given us, it's everything. We do nothing to earn his favor. And even the gifts that we have, they are expressions of his various grace, the things that he has already given us. So Vera, any questions, any thoughts that come to mind as we think about this particular verse?
Vera: One thing that I think is pretty common for folks is to look at other people's gifts. And to think, “I don't have that gift. I wish I had that gift.” A lot of people struggle with that comparison or that kind of attitude of not really recognizing the things God has given them.
What would you say, Natalie, to somebody who's struggling in that specific spot? Someone who is struggling with always feeling inadequate or like their gifts are lesser than? What would you say to that person to encourage them? That that is a varied form of God's grace to you, and it matters, and it's, it's worthy?
Natalie: Okay, so that reminds me of when I was first a new mommy and I stepped out of the workplace and into a space where the vast majority of what I did felt very mundane to me. And I felt like I was failing at it.
Vera: The double whammy.
Natalie: Double whammy. Nobody's telling me I'm doing a good job because nobody sees what I'm doing. It doesn't feel like much of a service to like change a diaper. Nobody's giving me applause for that. I didn't get an A+ on that.
You know, your kids are probably almost never going to tell you “thank you” until they're maybe in their thirties. So, any of you not new mommies out there—just a word to the wise, do not live for the affirmation and applause of other people, especially not your own children.
But those particular moments of doing the least things are actually sometimes the ways that we reflect Christ the best. Mm-hmm. He who was not above washing the feet, the nasty I walked all day in my sandals on the nasty, dirty ground kind of feet, if he will do that for us, then we almost best reflect him [00:08:00] when we are doing that for somebody else.
Because, you know for sure that your motivations are pure when the thing that you are doing nobody sees. And even if they did, nobody cares. Now, you can have a bad motivation in that and you can do it out of a heart of like, “Why doesn't anybody ever say thank you to me?” But if you can do that kind of work in a way that is reflective of the fact that you are serving the Lord with the gifts that he has given you, i.e. if you're that mommy, your little babies.
Or if you are that person who is in the lowest totem pole kind of job. I remember when I worked at Pizza Hut, it was my first job, and I was the person who was tasked with cleaning the bathrooms.
Vera: I used to clean bathrooms at Panera. That was my job. I was the low man for a long time. Yes. And I actually struggle going into Panera sometimes if I smell the bathroom cleaner, because I think they still use the same one. If I go in there and I smell that, I'm like, “Can't eat here. Yeah, I'm just gonna have a coffee.”
Natalie: My husband's a pastor, and I'll never forget, we were serving at a new church and we had done something as a group had a meal or something, and he started putting up chairs. Afterwards somebody said to him, “We've never had a pastor put up chairs before.”
And I thought, I mean, he's just everybody else. If you can't put up chairs, then you shouldn't be preaching in the pulpit. Right? In God's economy, there is no small thing. There is no menial task. In fact, he looks at the widow who puts the 2 cents in and says that she gave more than everybody else.
The Lord is looking for your heart, just like he is giving you everything that you need. You're not earning this, you're not doing this out of your own strength. You're doing this in his strength for him and for the service of his people. [00:10:00] And if that is your orientation, then you can speak to a crowd of thousands of people or you can clean the toilet in your church and it is beautiful.
It doesn't matter where you are on the spectrum of how man sees that, but the Lord is pleased. But if your heart is wrong, then you can't do anything that is gonna be pleasing to him. If you're doing it for the applause of man, you already got your reward. There it was.
Vera: That's really good. And I think the reverse of that, which sometimes we struggle with, is that if we are doing it for the applause of man, you got what you wanted and now gone. But if you aren't doing the thing that you are gifted to do, out of fear, what about that? Because I have been in that seat before.
Natalie: Why don't you tell us about that Vera? Because I know what you're talking about. I think, I think you're, you're striking a chord here.
Vera: Yeah. So when Dwell began five plus years ago, I was so caught up in fear. I didn't even want to have an Instagram account for Dwell.
I was like, I don't want to do that. I'm not about that. I struggled big time about it. I didn't want to put it out there. I was like, I just want privacy. If God wants to grow, Dwell, he can do it without Instagram. That was my attitude. But that wasn't really my true belief. Because God could do that.
He will do that. He's going to do whatever he wants to do with or without me. The real truth behind that was I was afraid, and so I was not stepping into that space because I was afraid. And I mean, God has been very clear that this is where he has me in my life at this time to serve others through it.
The work at Dwell happens to include a presence in social media. And I have to remind myself that all the time. I make a lot of [00:12:00] decisions that hurt me sometimes, or that can stunt the growth of getting people God's word out of fear. I'm not using my gifts out of fear. And so I think that's a big thing to ask yourself.
If I'm not doing the thing, what is keeping me from doing the thing? Am I not doing the thing because I think I'm above it? Maybe that's you, like it's too small of a thing. It's washing the church toilets. Do you think you're above that or are you not doing the thing because you're afraid of what it would mean?
Natalie: Yeah, that's a good word. I think sometimes we don't step into the thing God is calling us into because we're afraid that he hasn't equipped us, and yet we know from our verse that he has given us these gifts. They're his. And they're for serving others. And it really isn't about us anyway.
Because if you notice these gifts that we have, we are stewards of them. That’s another word for like, an ambassador. For example, I am not the United States, but if I'm an ambassador of the United States, I'm representing the United States. Or if I'm a steward of something, I am entrusted with the care of something.
It's like I'm a babysitter, I'm not the mom. I'm the babysitter and I'm entrusted with these kids while she's away. Same kind of thing. God has entrusted us with people and influence and places in the world that he wants us to step into. And as such, he has equipped us to do those very things.
And sometimes I think it seems like the humble thing to say, “Oh, I can't do that because I'm not good enough at it.” Which is kind of what Moses tried to do when God called him to go to Pharaoh. And finally God was like, okay, I'm gonna send Aaron, whatever.
But the point is God is going to do what God is going to do and [00:14:00] you're actually being disobedient, not humble when you refuse to do what he's asking you to do because you don't think that you're good enough. Ultimately it ain't about you, it's about him and him giving you the strength and the power to do the thing that he's asking you to do for his glory.
You're just the vessel. You're just a tiny little speck and it's a great thing and it's awesome that he would use you, but it's not ultimately about you. And that is a freedom that we can have. We are free to walk into things God calls us to do because it's not about us. It doesn't all depend on us. It's all about him.
Vera: That's right. And, and I think the bigger part there too is that he will equip you. So I think it was Elizabeth Woodson who, several weeks ago on her Instagram page, asked the question, “Are you treating everything like you are the owner or are you a steward?” And the freedom that comes with not being the owner is amazing.
Just being the steward and the belief that if God gives me this thing, for me personally, it was Dwell, if God gives me this thing that he has called me to do it, I actually believe that he is going to equip me and give me everything I need to do it. Or do I believe it's all on me? It's my responsibility?
It hinges on whether I am successful or I fail. Because the reality is, I'm gonna come up short. And that was the biggest thing that was keeping me from wanting Dwell to be on Instagram. I didn't wanna be out there because I have a tendency to believe in the possibility of failure, and it scares me.
Do I believe that I am actually just a steward of Dwell? I'm not the owner of Dwell. I'm a steward of Dwell, and he's going to equip me and Natalie and our team to do the things that he's called us to do. And what freedom when I actually believe that! I vacillate, right? Because I'm so human.[00:16:00]
Some days I believe that, and seasons, I believe that. And there are other seasons where I go back to my own strength and thinking that I am in charge and I have to do it all. Or do I believe we have been given the gifts because God is equipping us to do the thing he set before us?
Natalie: It's about him.
Vera: Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am.
Natalie: Every time. Every time. He's the one who gives the gifts. He's the one who gives us our salvation and he didn't just save us and sort of say, “Okay, well, I guess I'll let them into heaven later” But that he would incorporate us even though we fail all the time into his good plans.
For us, it's like cooking with small people. Anytime you cook with small people, you know they're gonna be eating the dough, you know they're gonna do weird stuff and it's gonna be kind of messy and whatever, but God looks at us like that. “I'm gonna include you in this because I love you, and it is a joy to me.”
He's gonna make the end product awesome either way, but that he would include us, should give us this freedom that he would give us every ingredient. He's the one that's going back and being like, “Okay, well they only put a half a cup in, so I'm gonna add another half a cup.”
He has it totally under control and we just have to step into that with him. And that's joy. Vera and I, we're just normal people and God has put us in this place where you have us in your earbuds right now. It blows my mind, but it's because he has something to say and we were willing to step into that and say, “Okay, we'll be your mouthpiece as fallen as we are, and as you know, wacko as we can be.”
He's pleased to use us and he's pleased to use you. So whatever it is that God is calling you to do, would you be prayerful about it? Would you, this month and in the coming months, ask God [00:18:00] for opportunities, even the mundane opportunities to serve him? And would you look at all of the opportunities that he has given you as a blessing? That's, that's the challenge. That's my challenge.
Vera: I love it. That's a really good word, because I was gonna ask you, what would you say to the person who is trying to figure out what their gifting is, but you just did it. Make time to ask him.
Natalie: You can also read our blog posts. We're talking about it all month on our blog at dwelldifferently.com.
Vera: There you go. There you go. It's right there.
Natalie: All right. Thanks for joining me, vera.
Vera: Love it. We'll see you next month.