Many Gifts, One Mission

"As it is there are many parts but one body" - 1 Corinthians 12:20

"As it is there are many parts but one body" - 1 Corinthians 12:20

My freshman year in college was a very dark time, a time that included deep depression and a lot of time spent in bed. During that time, I heard the gospel articulated in a way I had never heard before and began to slowly experience freedom and hope. As a developing Christian, I thought the only way to serve the Lord effectively was in full-time vocational ministry.

For a short time, I served the Lord on a large college campus, ministering to young women, freshmen in particular. I really loved working with them and thought I could (and I should) do that job forever. I spent time helping them grow as disciples, teaching and demonstrating evangelism, and coaching them in leadership skills. When the door closed as a long-term job, I was angry and could not see how my next job was a.) part of the plan and b.) another way to serve God. Maybe I was not as open to a change of plans as I assumed. Or maybe I was just short-sighted about God’s mission to make all things new. Or maybe it was both.

Someone must have seen what I could not see and I ended up in a strictly administrative role within the ministry. I always knew I enjoyed administrative-type tasks, but was fully convinced my job was to be on the mission field somewhere. Pretty quickly I found many things I loved about my job. I was learning rapidly and began to see the Lord’s purpose and glory in my work. When operating in the gifts God had blessed me with, I experienced joy in my work and began to understand a little more what others had seen in me. Even still I wrestled with believing that this was the most effective way to serve God.

Since then, I have continued my administrative role by serving the Novum Institute. There is still much to learn, but I have experienced immense joy in serving others with this gift. As an executive assistant, my role is to be in the background making sure those whom I support are able to effectively and efficiently do their job. I take care of tasks that are often small, unnoticeable and behind-the-scenes. Because the nature of the job is fairly invisible, it can be easy to forget the value of serving through administration. When it is difficult to see just how impactful my small, menial tasks are, I sometimes begin to think:

I am not gifted
I do not helping fulfill the mission
God is not glorifiedI’m not giftedI’m not helping fulfill the mission
God is not glorified.

Being involved in the mission of the Novum Institute has taught me about being gifted completely differently from another, while still being just as valuable to God’s mission. On a day-to-day basis, I am able to assist my teammates to effectively and efficiently complete the tasks they have to accomplish to the glory of God. Together we work in harmony to connect to God’s mission and help others do the same. I have had many opportunities to continue learning that:

I am gifted
My gifts do help fulfill God's mission
He is glorified when I am obedient to himI am gifted
My gifts do help fulfill God’s mission
He is glorified when I am obedient to Him.

Romans 15:5–6 has been a great encouragement to me as I work: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Lord has His own ideas about the story He is writing and how we fit into His new creation. My responsibility is not to figure it out but to follow Him and obey. The Novum Institute seeks to help others live that out in all areas of life, including our vocations.

I am grateful for the opportunity to learn these things myself through our daily work, and to serve my teammates with the gifts God has graciously bestowed upon me. It is also a joy to demonstrate to and teach our brothers and sisters in the academy, arts, and marketplace that it is possible to live out the trajectory God has in mind. It might include changes to our own expectations, but God, in His sovereignty will do what is necessary to bring about new creation here. And He will use us to make it happen, even in our weaknesses, for His ultimate glory.

Leslie de Leeuwerk