"Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it."
1 Corinthians 12:27
We all know the story from childhood about the duckling who didn't really fit with the rest of the ducks because he was so different. It was only when he was recognised as a swan did he fully become what he was always meant to be. Most people go through their entire life never really knowing what they were created for, and sadly this is also true of many Christians. The Bible says that every born again believer is a part of Christ's body, and therefore everyone has a distinct role to play and mission to fulfil. The idea that church is divided into a clergy (full time professionals) and a laity (the rest) is not a biblical concept, but unfortunately that is still how many people view the church which is why many Christians go through life feeling unfulfilled. When you discover the role that God has made you for and begin to function in it, you will find that your Christian life moves up a gear and God's purposes are advanced in the process.
So how do we find out what we are and grow up to be what God meant us to be? Here are some keys to help us on the journey.
1. Be a part of the body
It is a sad fact of modern life that many Christians don't understand the need to be a part of a local church. Some have had bad experiences in church and no longer attend anywhere, while others prefer to float from place to place or live on spiritual TV dinners. I believe (and the Bible makes it clear) that it is impossible for any believer to reach his or her potential without the interaction of other believers, and particularly those ministries gifts that God has sent to help us grow up and properly relate to one other (Ephesians 4:7-16). So it is vital to be joined to a local church group and to play your full part.
2. Be a disciple
While everyone has a God given gift, without the development of a godly character that gift will never reach it's full potential. God is concerned with our character first and foremost, which means changing from our old way of thinking, speaking and acting and allowing God's word and the Holy Spirit to live through us and shape us (Romans 12:1-2). This can be a painful process at times, but is really worthwhile. Of course the major way that God disciples us is through having a more mature Christian speak into our life and tell us the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Just like a parent disciplines and trains a child for his benefit, so everyone of us should submit our lives to someone who will help us to make progress.
David in the Bible was a young shepherd serving his father out in the fields. He performed that role to the best of his ability and protected the sheep as if they were his own. It was from this place of service that God called him to shepherd a whole nation (Psalms 78:72), to lead, feed and protect them, and to bring them into their full inheritance. I have found that in serving God in whatever way I could as I grew up that he has used those experiences to shape me for the role that he has now brought me into. So find a place of service and you will find that God will use you in greater ways than you could imagine. Don't know what to do? Go to your leader and just ask what needs to be done and then faithfully do it with all your heart as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23).
4. Find secure leadership
This one is not so easy, but it is important to have leaders in your life who will help you grow in the gifts that God has put in you. Leaders who themselves are secure enough to allow you to reach your potential in God and encourage you along the way. I am grateful to God for the men and women in my life who saw something in me, even when I didn't, and encouraged me and envisioned me to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus had taken hold of me (Philippians 3:12). An insecure leader will never make room for others for fear that he might be outshone. King Saul was such a man and when young David succeeded and became popular in the eyes of the people he did everything he could to discredit him and prevent his progress. David had to keep a good attitude and trust God to make a way, which of course he eventually did.
5. Have a sober assessment of yourself
You may feel that God has called you to lead the choir, but unfortunately he failed to give you the voice to match your aspirations. I have met people over the years who believed God had called them for some great purpose, but clearly had neither the gift or the anointing to match. Others with a similar sense of destiny expected that God would somehow pluck them from obscurity and lift them into international prominence without them taking the necessary steps along the way. In both of these scenarios there was a lack of self awareness or a misguided notion of how it would come about. If you feel that your great gift has not been recognised and are becoming frustrated, then ask someone who you know will tell you the truth (even if it hurts) to help you have a sober assessment of where you are and where you want to get to (Romans 12:3).
I trust these little pointers will help you find and fulfil the call of God upon your life. Remember, God is your father, and every true father wants his children to grow up and succeed in life. He is for you.