Monday, November 16, 2009

Honing Skills

This morning, I was struck by something, as I was reading Margret Feinberg’s Organic God. It’s not particularly a new thought, but nonetheless, one that penetrated through the veneer of my day and spoke to something deep within my soul. Doesn’t it seem that the most penetrating messages aren’t the new insights from afar, rather simply, those truths we’ve long known, yet desperately need to be reminded of. As C.S. Lewis often said, we often need to be reminded more than instructed.

Feinberg in her chapter “surprisingly talkative” is reminiscing about how God spoke to her - directing her into that which she was to do with her life. The Voice spoke more in silence than that of a sonic-boom. Later, she reflects on this process and her perspective and posture now towards this “gift,” and this is what caught my attention. She writes,
“In his silence, God allowed me to discover the gift that he had woven inside of me. That process has given me a deep sense of appreciation for the gift, so that I just can’t walk away when things get tough. Because of God’s silence, I recognize writing as one of those things I was created to do. that’s why, like an artisan, I spend long hours honing my work - praying for the beauty to emerge” (Organic God, 85).

As I began to reflect on these lines, it caused me to look at my own life and gifts - those things - that thing - that I’ve felt God’s nudging on most in my life. I began to wonder, “how am I ‘honing’ my gifts?” I practice using them a lot, but am I honing them?

Teaching and preaching can often be a touchy subject to ask such a thing. It’s as if, there’s this mystical-sacred force behind it, that to ‘hone’ in and practice the art of communicating would in some way contaminate the gift itself. Yet, I’ve heard some really dry, boring, and in need of some serious ‘honing’ preachers. I often wondered when listening to such aforementioned preachers, “who are you talking to?” and, “have you ever listened to yourself talk?”

Yet, if one were called to be a musician, a writer, or even a plumber, they would do everything possible to stay up with their particular field of discipline. Why wouldn’t we do so with teaching and preaching?

I often have paid attention to various forms of communicating and read up on a number of authors perspectives, yet deep within there’s a sense that “to practice” and developing such skills is in some way less pure.

After all, all we really need is the ‘anointing.’ Right? Just two weeks ago, I spent a couple of hours in Barnes and Noble perusing through a half-dozen communication books. Every book was trying to tell me how to “get people’s attention,” “prove my point” or what have you. Part of it just felt so mechanical, predictable and well honestly, manipulative. I don’t want this. I do want to engage the minds and hearts of listeners, but not by the means of some trite, slick or mechanical persuasive skill.

At the end of the day, there must be a balance between our personal integrity and our intentional and development of the skills and gifts that God has entrusted us with. I love what it said of David,

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.
(Psalm 78:72)

What does it look like for you do intentionally develop your skills and giftings?

No comments: