[You]nique : Serve by Eric Bryant


All of us have a unique calling in life, which effects everything — our career, our service, and the stewardship of all we’ve been given. And we all want to be noticed, valued for our uniqueness, to know that our unique gifts are making a real difference in the world. In our new series at Gateway Church in Austin, we are focusing on these questions…

What would happen if we were truly motivated to make the most of the time we have? To seek out and get involved in the Greatest Endeavor on Earth? To use our uniqueness to contribute to something lasting and significant? Where others would notice and value our contribution? Where would we go?

To apply this week’s message to your life, work through the Next Steps for this message with your roommates, family, running partners, or life group.

John Burke shared at Gateway North (click to watch or listen to the message), and I shared at Gateway South.

Here is the message I shared at Gateway South (by the way, I did make it to Fresno just in time which will make sense if you listen to the message):

Here are notes from the message we shared:

All of us have a unique calling in life—which effects everything—our career our service and the stewardship of all we’ve been given.

Let’s say that you were motivated to make the most of your time on earth. So you decided to seek out and get involved in the Greatest Endeavor on Earth. To use your uniqueness to contribute to something lasting and significant. Where would you go? There are some Great Endeavors out there.

  • You could get involved in Government—whose Great Endeavor is to bring liberty and justice to all in a representative form of Government—and that would be a good thing.
  • You could work for Dell. They want to provide the best IT systems on the planet—help lots of people with lots of data.
  • You could become a teacher and bring education for our future generations.
  • You could Sign up for Red Cross—they want to bring relief and aid to needy people world-wide.

All of these would be noble and great endeavors.

Even still, none of these compare to the greatest endeavor on earth. You probably intuitively know what it is, but if you’re not compelled to be a part of it—you don’t really see how great or fulfilling it would be to participate in it. Jesus referred to it when He stood up in the synagogue and read from Isaiah 61—his mission statement:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Isaiah 61:1-2

That’s his purpose, his mission statement—which He gave to his church when he said:

I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:18

Do we understand what He meant? His church is not a building, but a people. A people He is gathering to accomplish the most incredible endeavor in history. God is overcoming the forces of evil in this world—overcoming forces that would oppress the poor, setting people free from the prisons of addiction, healing the brokenhearted from the divisions and hurts that destroy marriages and families and societies, releasing prisoners from the dark dungeons of jealousies and worry and hopelessness, and desair). He’s overcoming all this, in a Revolution of the Heart: His Vision—to give every person on planet earth, not a new computer, or new software, or even just food or clothes—to give every person A New Heart, A New Family, A New Home with Him for eternity, and a New Purpose on mission with Him wherever else we work.

That’s what He’s doing, and His plan is to do it through His Church! And good news—He’s Hiring! Want a job in the Greatest Endeavor on earth? Believe it or not, it’s what you were made for! And the Pay is out of this world:

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne…everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matthew 19:28-30

And the last chapter of the last book of the Bible is a reminder of this promise:

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. Revelation 22:12

Your Calling from God is not just about your paid position or career (yes, it incorporates that too), but it’s much bigger than that.

You are vital to the greatest endeavor on earth.

There’s nothing more rewarding—in this life, and the life to come. In fact, that’s what God created you uniquely to do! And it’s incredibly fulfilling knowing your contribution will never be forgotten, no matter how insignificant in the world’s eyes—God sees, and God rewards. So today, I want to look mainly at a passage in 1 Corinthians 12 talking about your part in the Greatest Endeavor on earth.

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 1 Corinthians 12:1 

Literally this means: “don’t be ignorant.” That God has made you unique with unique gifts, service, and purpose—and he wants you to know what your gifts are! Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? The passage says:

no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 1 Cor. 12:3-4

If you have declared that Jesus is your Lord, God’s Spirit IS in you, and that means He has given you a spiritual gift. You may not realize it yet, you may still believe the world’s lies that you’re not important because the world doesn’t notice you. But God knows you and notices you, and he wants you to discover and deploy the gifts He gives you for the purpose He created you, and He will reward you.

If I am a Christian, I have Spiritual Gifts and I need to Discover them. It goes on to say: 

There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 1 Cor. 12:5-7

You have a responsibility to Discover the Gifts God has given you. And we have a responsibility as the Church—the local Gathering of God’s People to help you discover your unique gifts.

In 1 Cor 12, Romans 12 and other places, there’s a List of the gifts. Here’s a quick overview:

Administration, Apostleship (Spiritual entrepreneurship), Discernment, Encouragement, Evangelism (helping people find faith), Faith, Giving, Helps, Hospitality, Intercession (prayer), Knowledge, Leadership, Mercy, Shepherding (spiritual guiding/counseling), Teaching, Wisdom, Prophecy, Tongues, Healing, Interpretation

God has given you unique Gifts (some gifts of teaching, some helps, some administration, some mercy, some leadership)– and it says unique places to Serve—different areas of passion—one person may use gift of helps to serve in hospitality, others with our Food Pantry. Some use a leadership gift to lead a Lifegroup or Network (like Dr. Walter Bradley), others like Stuart Henschel lead our Food Pantry. So the areas of service where we deploy our gifts is unique. And the Workings (the Effects are different and unique) – God uses some with gifts like Bill Hybels with a gift of Teaching, or Mother Theresa with a gift of mercy and the workings, or effects, are world-wide, but that’s not any more significant than when He uses you to teach or care for one person. Why? Because it’s HIS Work. That’s the critical point being made—the entire Trinity of God is involved doing His work through each of you. It’s not about us, but about how He does His Great Endeavor of Love through us for the common good:

to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
1 Cor. 12:7

This is when our gifts, our service, and whatever scope of effect becomes fulfilling—when it’s not just about being noticed or to serve ourselves—but when God uses it to build up others together as His church. He’s doing it through us as we are faithful. And every little part matters to Him and will not be missed. In fact, it’s the small and unseen He cares most about as we will see.

What makes a Spiritual Gift different or distinct from a talent or skill?

The difference between a talent or skill and a Spiritual Gift is the evidence or manifestation of God’s Spirit using it for the common good (to further God’s purposes in the world).

We all have God-given talents, personally developed skills or abilities. Ultimately all these are from God who created us. But just because I have the ability to Lead doesn’t mean I have the spiritual gift of Leadership. And just because you’ve always had a compassionate heart, doesn’t mean you have the Spiritual Gift of mercy. Our natural talents or skills may be a great indication of where God will most likely use us, but not always.

So the difference as says is the Manifestation – the evidence of God using it for His purposes.

What are my spiritual gifts?

One way you determine your Spiritual Gifts is by asking: Where do I see Evidence of God using me to build up people and accomplish His Purposes? And if you are doing this in a place of passion-it shouldn’t be drudgery—it will be very fulfilling! So let us help you discover and deploy your spiritual gifts.

Start serving and your gifts will become obvious to you and/or to others.

Consider taking a spiritual gifts assessment as well.

Do you realize that God has a blueprint for a home He wants to build?

He’s more excited about building it than my friend Bill was about his home, because it’s more beautiful and spectacular than anything made of Brick and Mortar.

And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.
1 Peter 2:5

God wants to build a Home made not of brick and mortar, but made up of Unique, free-willed people, who choose to work together to build His church. Imagine a place where God the Father can feel completely at home—a place where the God of the Universe—who loves justice and mercy and righteousness and goodness—who is full of love and compassion for his children—who is holy (set apart and different from the world we live in)—imagine a place where he feels welcomed and honored as Dad by all his children.

Imagine a place where God’s kids feel loved and secure. A place where they can come and really be family as the Father intended—having fun together, encouraging each other, helping each other, working together with our unique gifts for a common goal, accomplishing His mission.

Imagine a place that can provide shelter and security for many people outside the family—people who feel so welcomed in, they decide they want to be adopted into this family. Where needs are met, people are cared for, no one goes without, emotional and spiritual wounds find healing. God has a picture in his mind of the Home He wants to build—it’s called the local Church. It’s much more than just a House on an expensive piece of real estate—it’s Body that He can dwell in to do His work in the world through us. 1 Corinthians 12 continues…

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free…  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:11-13, 27

Here’s what you need to realize, “If I am a Christian, I am a vital part of re-presenting Christ’s Body on earth. God chooses to live and work through all of us, cooperating together. This is a great mystery, but if we miss the significance of it, we miss participating in God’s Great Endeavor—because we miss what he’s doing. God has always had a way of representing Himself to people. In the time of Jesus, God was re-presenting himself in human likeness.

 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being….” Hebrews 1:3

God’s Spirit was working through Jesus body 2000 years agao. But God’s Spirit still has a Body to work through. God’s seeking to do his will as He moves the parts of His body to work according to His will to accomplish His Great Endeavor. You ARE the Body of Christ—and each of you is a part of it. Do you realize this? Do you realize how significant you are to God? It’s why He made you! And it’s a much bigger mystery than just His expression through Gateway—it’s His expression through the Whole Church—in all it’s local representations. This is why Jesus last prayer was for our Unity—that we would each stay connected to God who is One, that we might be One, unified—and then what? The WORLD would see God’s purposes lived out through us.


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