If you have ever been to a play, you may have marveled at the production process. Actors appear magically onstage, lights project from what seems out of nowhere, and for a brief moment in time, you suspend your disbelief, and you immerse yourself into the action onstage.
Years ago, I could be found twenty feet in the air in the dark, with a c-wrench tied to my belt loop. I hung lights for my college’s theater. Each afternoon I trod in my steel-toed work boots into the workshop directly behind the theater, and I would lift lamps one and two at a time up a catwalk that went above the shop and over the theater. I would secure the lamps on rails and place colored gels through a slot on the bottom of each lamp, using the ambient light of the lights hung below to be able to see.
This was a requirement of my theater lighting class. When I learned that I would be doing this job, I was a little nervous. It was the trifecta for fears: I would be working in the dark, up high, with heavy electrical equipment. I took a moment, braced myself and lugged those lamps up the catwalk and began tightening the clamps and adjusting the lamps. It was so much fun! I got to the point where I looked forward to coming to the shop everyday to hang lights. There was something dangerous about it, but it was so worthwhile.
I think the most fulfilling part was attending the performances. The fruits of the collective labor were on display each night as the cast performed. From working behind the scenes, I became keenly aware of what it took to create a performance. The audience sees the actors, but they do not see the design team who designs the lighting, the costuming, the make-up, and scenic details. They do not see the people who carry out the designer’s vision into fruition. More often than not the team who created the show was much larger than the cast.
I learned that I was a terrible seamstress, but I could hang lights and do scenic painting quite well. Every day, students, professors, and our technical director would put hours of work preparing for the performances. Each student and professor had his niche.
That’s how we are as Christ’s body, the church. When we all use the gifts that He has given to us, we work well off of one another and are able to go above and beyond what one person can do. Like the theater description mentioned above, the body of Christ can create so much more when many come together, as opposed to one person trying to do all the work as well as do things outside of that person’s gifts.
I may have puckered my seams as a costume seamstress, but I could hang and angle a light the way it needed to be. In church, I may better serve as a cook or a greeter as opposed to a finance committee chair, because my gifts are not with numbers.
I encourage you to find out your gifts. Take a spiritual gifts inventory. Take a look at your hobbies and interests. How do they translate into what you can do for the church? Does it take stepping outside of your comfort zone? You may be stepping out onto that catwalk with a load in hand, but you will be adding your part to Christ’s body, the church.
You may feel discouraged. You may think to yourself, “I feel like the appendix of the church. I’m here, but I’m useless.” Take a look at how Jesus handled the future disciples. Peter, the future foundation of the church was in disbelief that he could have anything to offer to Jesus’ cause. His response to Jesus was probably something like “I’m just a lowly fisherman. What use could You have of me?” Because Jesus is infinitely creative he took the one thing Peter could do well and translated it into what Peter could do for the cause. Peter became a “fisher of men”. He was scared to walk outside of his comfort zone. Later on he denied Christ three times and acted foolishly on several occasions, but by his faith in what Jesus could do through him, he became the rock that the church was built on.
“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?” 1 Corinthians [12:17]-19 (NIV)