Who are you? What are your gifts and talents? Are you using your gifts and talents to their fullest extent with your family, and in your work? Yesterday we focused on not spreading ourselves too thin, and on taking a personal inventory of our life. But when you take the personal inventory of your life, what are you looking for?
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians encourages us to not be ignorant of the gifts God has given you (1 Cor. 12:1). Recognizing the diversity of those gifts (v. 4) Paul makes the distinction between "administration" and "operational" gifts (v. 5&6) and notes that all gifts are given by the Almighty who is steadfast and never changing! Specifically he enumerates a short and somewhat incomplete list of spiritual gifts in verses 8 through 10 when he says "...to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues..." It would be easy to discount Paul's teaching as being old fashion and behind the times. But this ends up being a pretty good list to begin to help us define the gifts we might have!
Understanding the gifts God has individually given us helps us to define our uniqueness. Just like the Hope Diamond above, no two diamonds, or people are alike! At 45.5 carats few diamonds, if any, have ever been mined that as large, or as beautiful. The unusual attributes of that diamond make it one of a kind - you are too, just the way God created you!
Understanding your uniqueness means you can differentiate your abilities from the others. It sets you apart from the rest of the field. Your ability to recognize how your skill set is different from the rest of the population defines your uniqueness in the marketplace. Finding the right audience that seeks your uniqueness is the real trick, and often where people fail in the process!
For example, take Bill Gates - one of the wealthiest, or maybe the wealthiest man in the world. An early aptitude for math and science caused him to naturally gravitate towards an interest in computers. While still in college Gates, and his buddy Paul Allen convinced Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) that they had a code that would run on MITS computer hardware (interestingly he really didn't have the code when he originally contacted MITS, but wrote it quickly for the demonstration!). Together they recognized the "gifts" and talents they had and realized with a burgeoning computer industry they could be "unique" by only producing the software, and not the hardware. Gates and Allen knew that a "body" without a "brain" was useless, and so was a computer without the software! Understanding their uniqueness differentiated them from the rest of the industry. Gates and Allen parlayed that uniqueness into the differentiation of their abilities and products from the rest of the market, and successfully found an audience that wanted their product. Both rode the wave to amazing fame and fortune.
The rock-n-roll band The Eagles haven't spent much time playing classical songs because their audience doesn't buy out their concerts to hear that type of music! They have discovered their uniqueness and play to a particular audience.
Once you understand your uniqueness, focus and discipline will help you use those gifts. In my opinion you will gain much greater satisfaction in life if you use your uniqueness in positive pursuits as opposed to marginal or illicit endeavors. To some extent refining your audience will help you gain even more satisfaction out of the process.
The joy is in the journey. Self evaluation and inventory can be one of the most fun things you will ever do! Remember that God created you with a specific, unique set of gifts that only you can discover and apply. Happy hunting!