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When You Aren’t Being Used to Your Full Potential

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You are gifted. God has made you unique and given you a number of natural abilities and spiritual gifts “for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7). There’s just one problem.

When You Are not Used to Your Full Potential

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You feel you have much more to offer than your situation allows you to contribute. Am I right?

Honestly, I think most of us—all of us—find ourselves not utilized as much as we could be. In fact, the Bible shows 3 reasons your full potential isn’t being tapped.

(And why that’s a good thing.)

Spiritual Gifts, Natural Gifts, and Unopened Gifts

There are two types of gifts, and both need cultivation and development by continual use.

  1. When we speak of gifts in a Christian context, we usually refer to spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit to each Christian at conversion (1 Cor. 12:7).
  2. We also have natural bents and gifts (like singing or playing guitar) that God employs along with our spiritual gifts.

I’m not sure how helpful or necessary it is to separate the two categories of gifts. When we use these gifts in our lives, we feel fulfilled and life seems to hit its stride.

But sometimes we find ourselves in seasons when our gifts are not used as they could be.

In those moments, we need to remember these 3 truths.

1. Remember who your gifts are for.

As strange as it sounds at first, your gifts are not yours.

  • Your abilities are not God’s gifts to you.
  • They are not given for the sake of your fulfillment (or ego).
  • They are God’s gifts to the church—through you. As such, He determines the seasons and the degree to which He uses your gifts.

This perspective is a game-changer. It’s all about Him, not you or me.


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2. Seek fulfillment in faithfulness rather than in the exercise of your gifts.

I think of exceptionally gifted singers and stars and athletes who see their gift as their means of self-fulfillment. They wouldn’t feel “right” about not pursuing it with all their might.

As believers serving God, that mindset seems justified. What better way to express our gifts? But maybe God wants you to make a change. Or put your gift on the shelf for now. Or scale it way back.

How can you know when your passion for your gifts may have an unbalanced priority in your life? Here are some ideas:

  • When your physical health suffers because of it.
  • When your family’s needs (emotional, relational, financial) suffer because of it.
  • When continued participation requires moral compromise.
  • When the fruit of the Spirit is absent from your attitude.
  • When you aren’t spending time with God but only “serving” Him.

If we keep faithfulness as our goal, it matters little how much our gifts are used. It’s about Him.

3. Refuse to get your identify from your gifts.

See yourself as God’s servant—period. If your identity is wrapped up in your giftedness as a teacher, an encourager, a giver, an exhorter, a leader, etc, you may miss God leading you to make a change in your life.

  • You will find yourself clinging to your position or area of service rather than staying open to God’s leading.
  • You may also find yourself more devoted to serving God than to God.

There are many ways to serve God with your gifts. You only know what you know. God knows what you don’t know. He may have a better plan.

When you think of who you are, refuse to think of your gifts or your position. Instead, see yourself as God’s servant.

In my next post, I’ll share more of what to do when you aren’t used to your full potential.


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