Have you ever noticed how most of the people in church don’t do anything?
Disclaimer: this isn’t a rant.
But, it’s true, right?
Most of the people who go to church treat it more like a football game. I pay my tithe (if I do), and you play music that makes me feel good and stuff knowledge about the Bible into my head.
That’s basically it.
The people who stand on stage are qualified. And most of the rest are just, well, clapping.
But I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t have this in mind when he described the church as “so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.”
Or, when Paul wrote to church members: “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.”
The reason I bring this up is because it rams headlong into the issue of spiritual gifts.
What is the point of spiritual gifts if we divide the church by the paid guys on church staff who do “ministry” while the rest of us watch?
4 One-Liners and then my Point:
- There is no divide like this in the New Testament. Jesus didn’t pick the educated, he picked dock workers. In his old days, Paul rested on his CV. After he met Jesus, his perspective did a 180.
- It’s not a smart divide. It puts administrating, pastoring, teaching, discipling, serving, leading, evangelizing along with everything else on the shoulders of a few. If we were doing a business evaluation, we’d say this is unhealthy.
- It turns the rest of us into spiritual vegetables. When we switch from active players to side-line spectators, we loose all of our conditioning, training, and, well, relevance.
- It actively works against spreading God’s Kingdom. When Jesus handed down the great commission, it was to all of us, not just 1% who are hired to work on behalf of the rest.
This minister/non-minister divide is something we’ve created, not God.
And it we see its fruit blossoming in our lack of passion for God. In lives that peak with Netflix binges and Facebook debates.
What’s the solution here? How do we get ourselves (and encourage those we love) to move into a life that’s truly something we can look back on and be proud of?
Well–I’m glad you asked!
The Answer is Theme
Let me explain.
In a movie, theme is the underlying purpose. It’s what tells us what everything means. Take the Star Wars (1977), for instance. It has a few themes: good vs evil (the force); diverse people working together (Luke, Han, and the princess); and selflessness (Han Solo’s character transformation).
The purpose of theme is to give meaning. When we dissect movies (and novels, for that matter), we see that there are pretty standard plot constraints. The hook happens in the first ten minutes, the inciting incident around 25%, and the midpoint happens at, well–you get the idea.
But theme is different. It’s not structural like plot. Instead, the theme is that intangible part that resonates deeply inside us. It’s made up shoulds and can’ts. It’s resonates with our moral compass deep inside.
And it’s the same for us growing spiritually, too.
If our spiritual gifts direct our plot, then our spiritual theme is our internal passion. It’s what thumps our hearts forward.
I can’t really oversell this. As Paul wrote, it is the reason God has put us here.
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.”
How to Find Your (Spiritual) Theme
But once you have that–as important as it is–you’ve only got knowledge. It’s like a finish line. That’s really important. But you still need to run the race. And so nothing actually happens until you plug this knowledge into your life.
4 Steps to Find your Spiritual Theme
Use this as a guide to get you there:
First, Be at Home with Your Spiritual Gift(s)
This is a cart-before-the-horse thing. If you’re not sure about your spiritual gift(s), go back here first before moving onto step two.
Second, Filter by What’s Practical
Your theme is practical. It’s how you interact with the world. Wherever you go, whatever you do, your theme is what’s motivating and driving you.
As you begin searching for your theme, start by looking at where you actually spend your time.
For me, one of my themes is unity. I often find myself between two stressful points looking for harmony. It’s a satisfying place for me. I feel like I’m doing good work when I’m in this space.
Third, Try it Before You Buy it
Try on different themes. Copy those who are like you–or those you want to be like. Look for things that resonate deeply with you.
Fourth, Write it Out (Like…on Paper)
There’s a special power in putting things down on paper. Writing it out lets you see it days later. You’ll resonate with it, or you’ll immediately scrap it. Or, you’ll think more about it.
It’s not important that you figure this out before you finish reading this article. What is important is that you start thinking about it.
For some it will jump out right away. For others it will take some time. Both are okay. You’re seeking and that’s what matters.
I wrote a book for you. It’s called Life Hacking Spiritual Disciplines.
It’s about the practical steps it takes to be intentional about spiritual development. If you’re wanting this, then this book is for you.
Who is this resource not for? People who don’t want to work. This takes a little work. But if you want it, it’s there for the taking.