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Stepping into Your Gifting // Heather MacFadyen
"Do we acknowledge our gift? If we don't acknowledge it, that's like having a really pretty wrapped present sitting on your table and you never open it." — Heather MacFadyen

Have you ever felt unsure of how God has gifted you? As Heather MacFadyen says, we’ve all been called to make disciples, but the where and how will look different in everyone’s lives—and that is freeing! Join author and podcaster Heather MacFadyen as she talks with Natalie Abbott about how to identify what God has uniquely equipped you to do, why God gives gifts to his people, and how to not miss out on the goodness that God has for you.

MAY DWELL VERSE

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. — 1 Peter 4:10

LINKS FROM THE SHOW

Heather MacFadyen's website

Right Where You Belong by Heather MacFadyen

Don't Mom Alone by Heather MacFadyen

CRU Spiritual Gifts Assessment

CliftonStrengths Assessment

Made for This by Jennie Allen

Dwell Differently Official Facebook Group

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT: Hey, welcome back to the Dwell Differently podcast. This is your host, Natalie Abbott, and today we are talking about our verse this month, and I love this verse. I think it's a really helpful verse as we think about who we are and how what we do really matters. (READ MORE)

So, our verse that we're memorizing this month is from 1 Peter 4:10, and it says this, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms."

So, we're talking about the gifts we've received. How do we use them to serve others? How do we step into the things God is calling us to do as faithful stewards of what God has given us? His grace in its varied forms, like there's all kinds of different gifts out there. And today we are getting to talk with Heather MacFadyen. 

And Heather, for those of you who don't know, she wrote a book about it. Not specifically this verse, but walking into, stepping into the calling that God has placed on your life. Her book is called [00:02:00] Right Where You Belong. How Do Identify and Fully Occupy Your God-Given Space. Let me say that little subtitle again.

How to identify and fully occupy your God-given space? We want to do that, we want that. Let's identify and fully occupy what God is calling us to do. But we can't do all of that right now, so we're just going to scratch the surface, right? But let me just ask you, what is your passion and purpose behind what you do?

For those of you who don't know, Heather also hosts a podcast. It's a wonderful podcast. It's called Don't Mom Alone. And for anybody listening to this, that is a mom- if you don't listen to that podcast, you should go listen to it because it is just such a source of joy and hope and like sometimes a little bit of a kick in the pants if you need it. Like it's all the good things. So why do you do what you do, Heather? 

Heather: That's a really good question. I think that a lot of, even this verse or this concept of right where you belong is narrowing in on where is God assigning you, right now? And it may not be a public assignment. It may be a real private, somewhat seemingly insignificant thing, and I hope that I can encourage and bring confidence and clarity to women and men that if God has allocated that space for you in this moment, that we can trust that that is good. And our part is to steward it and to be obedient and to be faithful. And his part is the ripple effects of what happens outside of that obedience and faithfulness. And so for me, right now, what he's assigned to me is this podcast and writing these books and mothering four boys and the friendships and the places that he has for me in Dallas, Texas and my [00:04:00] neighborhood.

We've tried to move and he's like, Nope, you're going to stay in your house,". and just coming to terms with some of that, I think oftentimes books about purpose are all dream oriented and big picture and do big things. And I really felt like we needed something that said "Yes, and..." There might be a, a big space that God wants to use your gifts and here's a pep talk that he believes in you and even if you feel small and the giants seem big, that you know the David and Goliath example, but also there were many places in the Bible where it was a small thing, seemingly small, quote unquote. That God uses for his purpose and his plan, and so I wanted to encourage the person who feels like they've been benched or feels like they're in a prison right now. I mean, there's lots of stories of people in prison in the Bible. Lots of stories of hiding in caves, lots of stories of fleeing and hard things and those can be true purposes and part of God's big plan. And so, I wanted a framework and not a formula to help encourage people.

And so that's where God led me on this because that subtitle to fully occupy your God-given space, I came across a definition of humility that was this expanded Hebrew definition that if a rabbi was going to teach, and even I've found some Hebrew rabbi teaching, that they would say that to their students.

Humility is fully occupying your God-given space, not taking up more or less than what you've been allocated. And so, can we trust, can we, in our humility, trust that this is enough?

Natalie: I love that. It feels like you [00:06:00] press against both edges of our propensity to either feel like what we're called to do is way too much. Or what we're called to do is way too little like God has given me these, these gifts and he's given me this space and this time and this place and he's kind of placed me where I am and either we feel far under capable of meeting that like we're outmatched and outmanned and we don't know what we're doing. We feel in over our heads or we feel like, "This is what this, this is? This is what you've got for me right now?" 

Heather: I mean, this was Moses at the fire scene. You know, he is like maybe I'm not the one who should be talking to the Pharaoh. And then his brother and sister are like, "Well, we're doing what Moses is doing. Why does he get all the glory?' Later on? And it's like we are questioning God. We're Job. We're saying, "Why did you allow this to happen?" and then God's like, "Where were you?"

You know, he right sizes us, like - get in line. You don't know the whole story. There are ripple effects that you will never see in your small act of obedience in the faithfulness. Like there could be a conversation today that changes a person's life, you don't know and, and you are so limited and incapable.

You'd be overwhelmed if you knew. His kindness, his grace. I love that part of this verse, which I hope we get to this piece, the faithful stewards of God's grace in the various forms - I feel like it's saying God's grace is abounding and everywhere and how it shows up in each person's life. You get to be a steward of that through activating your gift.

That it's the grace that's the different forms. Which I think is so cool because [00:08:00] to me, I think of a quote from one of my mentors who would say, “There's no grace for your imagination.”

These imagined scenarios that cause us fear and worry, or like you were saying, I'm not enough, or why didn't I get that? You know, why am I not getting invited to that? There is grace for whatever you are presently walking through, and we get to join in that if we use our gifts and show up in the spaces where he's assigned us.

Because I like to separate calling and assignment. We all have been given the calling to go and make disciples. This came from my friend Kat Armstrong. We've all been given the assignment to go and make disciples. But where we do that is various and changes. And that to me is a little freeing.

When I was in the stage of dirty diapers and nap times and feeding all the babies, that wasn't my forever. If motherhood is my highest calling, that was like, "Really? This is leaving me wanting a little more." Oh no, this is an assignment for right now.

This love and care that you are giving to these tiny bodies, is imprinting in them the love and the care of God the father. This isn't wasted, this attachment to your heart so that they'll listen to you when you talk to them about the Gospel. This isn't wasted. Samuel only spent three years with his mom and he heard God speak.

He didn't learn that from Eli. Okay? I'm just gonna tell you that. His sons did not learn that. He probably didn’t learn that from them. He probably spent three to five years, maybe till he was done nursing with her. And then same with Moses. You know? Those little years were important.

They're not insignificant. But the lie of the culture or what feels important could tell me that they're not, [00:10:00] and so, leaning into that, like how can I be a steward of that various form of grace today? I like that part of the verse. I'm jumping way ahead in that. 

Natalie: No, let's go there. I love that because I think that it's really significant.

I think sometimes we look at other people and we think, Ah, she's doing the thing. She's winning. She's the boss lady, or whatever. And then we devalue the thing that God has called us to do. We have devalued our assignment by looking at somebody else's position and somebody else's place and somebody else's gifts.

And saying, That’s what I want. And instead of being able to fully realize and walk in what God is calling us specifically to do at this time, we are missing out. We're missing out on the goodness that God has. 

Heather: I'm not a strategic planner person, I'm a feeler. And I was like, okay, we have all these feelings that I'm seeing in women. Feelings of missing out, feelings of not enough, feelings of comparison and jealousy and insecurity. That feeling is happening. Okay, God, what can you give us so that we believe truth and that confidence and clarity can just throw out all of those feelings and disrupt those lies and fill us with truth so that we are filling those spaces. Because if we're each filling our space, then that grace shows up and there's an attractiveness and we can draw people in and there's a sweet aroma of Christ that is good. And I think that, like you're saying, the comparison comes because the result is getting glorified.

By other people or by social media or by whatever it is, right? It's getting accolades [00:12:00] and some gifts don't get accolades. And some assignments aren't applauded. And it's trusting that if I've heard God's voice and he's assigned me here, that it's his glory that I'm seeking. And we can say that with our words and not believing in our hearts, but that is the truth. You may get to heaven one day and it's just resounding applause because those impacts you will never see are going to show up. 

Natalie: Yeah. I like how if you keep reading this verse, it says, you know, "Each of you should use whatever gift you've received to serve others".

So, the purpose of your gift is to serve others as "faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms", because you've been given these wonderful things. So, you share them with others. And then it says, "If anyone speaks, speak as if you're speaking the words of God. If anyone serves, do so as one who with the strength that God provides." And then it says, "So that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ, to him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen". So, the idea I think, sometimes is when we look at our gifts and we feel like either we're missing out or you know, we're not good enough or whatever, we're not recognizing the fact that the purpose of these things is to serve others and to bring God glory. And when we are the ones who feel like we're not good enough, we are lacking in that ability to serve others, we're not doing the thing that God is calling us to do, which is to serve others. Or if we're  the people who are wanting more, then we're really thieving God's glory from him.

We're trying to get all that glory for ourselves. So my hope is as we memorize this verse, Heather, just like what you said, this would be the truth that we're clinging onto and reminding ourselves of instead of these feelings we have of missing out or not being enough. 

Heather: And I think it's the “whatever gift.” [00:14:00] I think there are things in our lives that we see as “whatever.” It's so easy for you to do that. It's a “whatever gift”, like he's saying whatever gift, but we're like throwing it away as a gift. He hardwired you to do something uniquely. And you don't see it as valuable because it comes so easily to you. What is the thing that your friends come to you for or that you are known for?

Or what was the thing when you were a little kid you loved to do, but maybe got mislabeled as a problem?

Natalie: I loved when you talked about that in your book. That was like, oh, I want to do that. I want to go back and think- what was little Natalie like? What did she love to do? For me it was reading and writing. Which is what I do so much of now. I would just find myself, a book, and sit in a corner or a tree and then I kept a journal since I was like in grade school.

Heather: I think doing that work, I especially maybe the Gen Z, they're better at it, but I think women, particularly older than me and my age really struggle with this. We can call it out. Especially if it gives God glory.

I attune really well to that person's pain. And when someone's hurting, it's not hard for me to show up and feel sad with them. And that's a gift. And I was told I cry too much when I was little, I was told I was too [00:16:00] sensitive. 

But I'm sensitive to what you're feeling and I'm going to cry with you. But if you think about it, if you've been through something hard, and someone attunes to you and they feel that with you, that's God's grace in that moment. So that's that various form. Is it going to get applause? No.

But will they maybe say, God thank you that when I was going through that really hard thing, you know, gave a little nudge to so-and-so to call me. And they may thank you because you're the conduit of his grace, but you can even say, “Thank you, God, that you have wired me this way, that I could show up for this friend in this moment, and that I could provide what she needed in that time.” And even some of the "gifts" may not be this wiring in your personality, they may be some of your experiences. You know, you think about your sister and her experiences. That experience enabled her to then think, Oh, you know what? We need an easier way to memorize Scripture. That was her gift to then be grace for some people's lives. It could be a hard thing. It could be you walked through cancer yourself and now you can provide grace for someone else walking through cancer. It could be that you had a child with special needs. It could be a great thing. You have parents who stayed married for 50 years and you can encourage the friend who's in a hard marriage that it's possible because she's never seen that example in her own life.

Whatever gift is not necessarily this spiritual gift. It could be those experiences that he's gifted to you to steward. And sometimes we keep them hidden because we're embarrassed or there's shame associated with it. Sometimes we devalue them because it's like, well man, I had a really nice life. It's not like I did drugs and now I'm [00:18:00] rehabbed. 

I've said that to people who have had those harder stories that they look at me and they go, I love your story. It gives me hope that that's possible. So whatever gift, don't do the throwaway, whatever.

It's whatever gift. Are you saying, "God, show me today a gift that I haven't seen. Give me gratitude for that gift. Help me not just have it, but accept it as something from you for me to then give back to someone else. It's like, do we acknowledge it? If we don't acknowledge it, that's like having a really pretty wrapped present sitting on your table and you never open it. You're never curious. What is this?

Natalie: That's a great illustration to think about. If God has given you something, why are you just leaving it lying there?

Heather: I watch a lot of American Idol right now and there was a gal who came on, a mom of three young kids, and she was kind of insecure about even being there and she's awesome.

But it's that devaluing it that's in pride a little bit. We're so uncomfortable to own it as if it's going to give us attention. And I know for the singing, yes there are some accolades that you do get, but it's actually pride to keep it hidden because you're afraid it's going to give you too much attention.

I think there's an element that we have to keep it in check and say, okay, am I doing this for my own glory or am I doing it for yours? And we always have to surrender and surrender and surrender. But if we're always dismissing it and devaluing it, that's not [00:20:00] humility. That's thinking that any outcome or anything we use it to serve is up to us completely.

But if we have fully surrendered it, it's like, no, I'm showing up all the way with this thing, we're going to use the best tools to build the tabernacle. We're going to use the most talented artisans because that gives God the most glory when we do the best work empowered by the Holy Spirit. Being like, Well, I kind of wrote this book. I hope you read it. I mean, it's okay

I felt pressure with this book because I felt like this is a message I want to steward so well. I hope that I bring my best writing so that no one's confused and that no one misses the mark, or that it really points to the truth that God really has put on my heart to communicate.

And if I don't use my gifts fully in this, I am not stewarding it, not for my glory, but for his. That to me is a steward. If I let lies of sabotage come in, I'm not being a gardener of my space and pulling those weeds out. And to me, that concept of stewarding is what are you letting distract you or take up space in your mind, in your heart that is not from him?

Natalie: Yeah. And I think that that image of a steward too, it's not the same as the image of an owner, right? So, if we're a steward instead of an owner, it allows us then to step back and be like, "Oh no, I don't have to receive the glory for this. This was given to me. This is something that I'm watching over and caring for."

It kind of allows us to have this freedom from the “it's all about you” message that we hear so often. We're able to step back and realize it's actually not about me. I've just been given this and I want other people to experience this grace that I've been given.

Heather: And there's a freedom too in it not being yours completely. The pressure I felt with my first book, hoping that people would love it and love me because of it. I felt such an emotional load diminish with this next one where I was like, "Well, take it or leave it. This was his idea, you know? Like if you want to reject it, it's his thing."

I'm just the mouthpiece of what I thought he wanted to communicate to you right now. And there was a freedom in that. Let's talk brass tacks. You go to the grocery store; you are fully present because really the one God-given space that is unchanging for us is our body in the present moment.

I am taking this body wherever I go. This is my God-given space. Whether I'm 80, whether I'm pregnant, whether I'm not, whether I'm married or not, this is the God-given space and in the present moment is the boundary line I have.

Until they figure out time travel in a way that I can't understand, I cannot be here with you and be at my boys' school at lunch right now. I can't fill both spaces with this physical body. 

So, you 're going to the grocery store and you show up. How are you going to steward that interaction to bring your [00:24:00] gift in its form so that you can show God's grace in its form in that moment? 

And you might say, "Well, I'm just not an outgoing person." Well, what's your gift? Maybe you are noticing something about them, or you could ask a question. Could you help them with the scanning? That might be the grace they needed that day. Or maybe there's not a bagger and they're scanning and they're bagging, and you could start bagging like you're a doer. I promise, if you are empowered by the Holy Spirit, there will be something that comes to mind that you could do with your body in a given moment, if you would surrender and say, "Hey, God, how could I use my gift right now?” And it's probably not this—scrolling through your phone.

You know what I'm saying? That to me is a weed that's taking up space in the garden most of my days. Most of my space that I've been assigned is getting robbed by this thing. Although I have, I do have your current verse of the month on my phone, so that's helpful.

But I just think if we really want to activate this verse in our lives, it's paying attention to where we're taking our body in the present moment and is it surrendered to God's spirit in us with our wiring so that we can demonstrate that form of grace in that moment for that person? 

Natalie: Heather, I love that you are just talking about being at the grocery store and interacting with the checkout person because that's where the rubber meets the road.

If we can't interact well in the most basic, fundamental human kind of way, I just have to buy groceries situation, You know, if we're kind [00:26:00] renouncing that like, it's not good enough for us to pay attention or we can just, at that moment we can totally check out or whatever. You know, like, what are we doing? 

Heather: The more I lean into this concept, the more God shows me places that I could steward and show up a little bit better. And it's usually smaller. I'm not saying it's only smaller because I went to LA and I filmed some big fancy thing, like that was an assignment and it was God's grace in my life that I'd already done podcasting for almost 10 years. He was kind in his assignments. If you're like, "Oh God, why did I miss out on that opportunity?" Maybe he's being kind and he doesn't want you to fall on your face in front of a huge audience.

Just fail small at firstl. I don't know. I'm just saying, right?  When we hustle and try to force a space, we're setting ourselves up for a hurt that he's like, "That wasn't part of my plan, but you go ahead girl." He can redeem it, it's not outside of his abilities, but at the same time, if we in the moment to moment could invite him in to some of these opportunities and decisions or even hard things like, man, we just get this diagnosis and we're like, “Okay, God, you're assigning me to this. Help.”

And then, maybe he'll bring to mind someone else who's been assigned a similar space and your path will cross. [00:28:00] I've always seen, whenever I walk through anything, he shows up and we get to partner with that. You get to be a part of that if you are activating the Holy Spirit in your life and inviting him in.

Natalie: So, Heather, we've got just a couple more minutes left. But I would say, I feel like I'm listening to this and I'm like, yes, yes, yes, yes! This is what we need. This is what I need. How do you get from point A of "I don't really know what my gifts are or I feel like I don't have any gifts, or I hate where I'm at right now in life." How do you get from that space to really identifying and occupy what God is calling you to take in this right now moment?

Heather: I think it takes an actual sitting down with a journal maybe and saying, "God, can you show me some of these specifics for my life right now so that I can have confidence and clarity in your assignments?" If you are in a prayerful moment with God, he will highlight something to you.

It's a framework, not a formula. What about my wiring? So, if you really don't know your gifts, since we're narrowing it on gifts today, CRU.org has a spiritual gift [00:30:00] test— it's biblical. It's this concept that we're unique and his Holy Spirit shows up uniquely in each of us, which is so great. Or maybe even a more secular one, Clifton's Strengths was actually created by a Christian guy, Clifton, to help people find their place in the church. So, if you've never taken a Clifton Strengths test, there's 25 strengths, I think it's great. Really helped me stop trying to maximize my weaknesses and make them better, but focus in like these are my strengths. And then experiences. What are some of my experiences, positive, negative? And is God bringing to mind that needs a word of encouragement or that I can show up and offer his grace in that area? And so, I really think if you bring these to God, he will highlight something to you.

Natalie: That's awesome. I love that advice. I can remember a time when I actually went through Jennie Allen's Made for This book. I don't know if you ever did that. It's kind of like a workbook. It was really great and very helpful because I was at a space in my life where my kids were going back to school and I just didn't know what was next.

I'm like, do I become a lunch lady? Do I, you know, work at Starbucks? Do I go back to school and get my teaching certificate? I've got this English [00:32:00] degree. That book, it helps you do that. And I know that in your book too, you've got spaces for us to work through our own experiences. The ways that we're wired, our time, our place where we live in the world. And, to really investigate and prayerfully think about What next Lord? What right now, Lord? 

Heather: Dialogue with him. It's a good thing. If you just get in the habit of that, that would be good. 

Natalie: Well, Heather, this has been lovely. I am enjoying your book already. This is such a good space for people at any point. You should be doing this every so often, really kind of laying these things before the Lord. And also just looking for needs that you see. And I may not feel particularly gifted, but if God's calling me there, I'm going to believe that he's going to help me do the thing that he's calling me to do.

So, whatever it is, I would just encourage our listeners to think about those things, to pray, like Heather said. 

Well, this was just really fantastic. Thank you so much for joining us today. We’ll have all the links in this episode on our page that will tell you where you can get Heather’s book, where you can get her first book, and listen to her podcast. Thank you so much Heather for sharing your wisdom with us today, we really appreciate it.

Dwell Blog/Podcast Featured Content

Heather MacFadyen

Heather MacFadyen is the host of the popular parenting podcast Don't Mom Alone, with more than 20 million downloads from around the globe, as well as the author of the books Don't Mom Alone and Right Where You Belong. She finds great joy in connecting other women to mentors and experts through her podcast and in speaking at live events with women across the country. She and her husband and their four sons live in Dallas, Texas.

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