Forms of Assistance
And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. – 1 Corinthians 12:28 (NRSV)
As a coach working with pastors, I often close a session with a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the person I’m coaching, for the gifts and talents God has given them for ministry, and for the ways those gifts are being used and developed for the good of God’s kin-dom. They are inspiring preachers, fine administrators, dedicated educators, and compassionate pastors, but rare is the one who excels at all these roles all the time. Whether they partner with colleagues or work collaboratively with church leaders, one of their most important tasks is to identify and support the gifts of others for the good of the church and the world.
Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth, points out that we all have different capacities and that they are all needed in our faith communities. My favorite mentioned in verse 28 is “forms of assistance.” It brings to mind the volunteers who organized a Pet Pantry at the UCC church in North Yarmouth, Maine, providing dearly needed help to lower- or fixed-income people in the neighborhood. Not only did they see the need, they inspired others to care and to contribute time, funds, and material goods. Vision, compassion, generosity, and practicality were the gifts given to them by God.
What is your gift? How are you using it? Believe me, someone needs what you have been given and what you have to give.
Holy One, we thank you for the capacities you have given us. Help us to see what is needed and to use our strengths to serve you. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, new from The Pilgrim Press.