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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Days 30 & 31: Getting in Shape

[Have been on a short holiday, so doing these two days together.]

In the Day 30 and 31 chapters of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren presents the SHAPE acronym detailing how God "shapes" each one of us.

S is for Spiritual Gifts
Rick Warren contends that when you become a believer, God gives you special abilities to serve Him. I was baptised when I was only three months old and some of my earliest memories are of going to church, so I can't say whether I suddenly developed new abilities as a result of believing in Jesus.  If you are reading this and started believing in Jesus later in life, please let me know if you found you had new abilities after accepting Jesus into your life.

H is for Heart
"We instinctively care about somethings and not about others. ... God has a purpose in giving you these inborn interests ... Don't ignore your interests.  Consider how they might be used for God's glory.  There is a reason that you love to do these things."

I find this quite a radical view for a religious book, but maybe that's because, growing up, it was made quite clear to me that nothing I was interested in was important (including a university degree).  When I was 12 or 13 years old, I taught myself the computer language BASIC from a book, using paper and pen (for those of you born in the 1990s - virtually no-one owned a computer in 1983). Then for my 15th birthday I wanted a computer (a Commodore 64 if I remember correctly) so I could write computer programs, but at the time I also wanted to give up piano lessons (is there anything worse than being forced to learn how to play the piano? Well yes, there are plenty of things that are far, far worse, but I digress).  What do computers and pianos have to do with each other you ask? In the absurdly heated discussion that ensued when I told my mother I wanted to give up piano lessons, and having no logical reason to convince me to continue, my mother eventually said "if you give up piano, you are not getting a computer for your birthday." I hated piano lessons so much I said "Fine."  Perhaps this made my mother realise that she was not going to win, or perhaps she had no-more ammunition left in her arsenal, but the "discussion" ended there and I had to wait another two years for a computer (a lifetime at that age). 

Anyway, enough therapy, back to the book. You know you are using your spiritual gifts when you feel enthusiastic about what you do and this leads you to do it well. (Definitely need to find a new job.)     

A is for Abilities
Your abilities are like your spiritual gifts, but you are born with your abilities. Again, God wants you to use your abilities, not just to make a living but to make a difference at your church. 

P is for Personality
God gave you your personality, just as He gave you your abilities.  Your personality affects how and where you use your abilities. Growing up I thought I was too quiet and believed that only extraverts had self-confidence. But a few years ago I was at a work training course where we had all done personality tests. We had drinks afterwards and I got into a conversation with someone who described his score for being an extravert as "off the chart".  So, under my theory, he should be extremely self-confident.  However, he openly admitted he was not.  He felt he often put his foot in his mouth and said the wrong thing because whatever he was thinking came out of his mouth. I realised that the two things are not tied together and didn't need to worry about being an intravert. 

E is for Experiences
God uses experiences to mould you. All experiences matter, but it is your painful experiences which most equip you to help others. By sharing your experiences in how God helped you overcome a problem, you can help people currently going through the problem. People generally keep their problems secret, as if having difficulties is some sort of failure on their part.  I used to be envious of successful people becuase I assumed their lives had been one achievement after another with no obstacles getting in their way - for example, surely someone like Warren Buffet (one of the contenders for richest man in the world) never had a bad day in his life.  That was until I read his biography, The Snowball, and found out he had to deal with some serious issues including a verbally abusive mother and a wife who left him for another man and staying married to him while living in another city and keeping the affair secret from him.  Somehow, learning this made me feel better about my life because it made me realise that having problems in life is normal.

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