3 Ways to Neglect Your Gifts

I recently preached 1Timothy 4.14 , where Paul charges a young pastor named Timothy to “.. not neglect the gift you have, which was given you vby prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you”  I began to wonder how many people neglect their gifts.   Neglect is an interesting term, one that denotes a range of meaning from indifference to full on intentional abandonment.  According to Scripture, gifts are given by God, given to glorify God, and given to edify the church.  In other words, our gifts are not ours to used, abused, or ignored as we wish.   Consider what it means to neglect a gift from God.  I believe this verse fleshes out three different ways we WILL neglect God’s gifts unintentionally if we don’t employ God’s gifts intentionally:

#1 Neglect by not using:  Some people do not employ their gifts at all.  That doesn’t mean they do nothing, rather, that they don’t do the right thing.  By right I mean to say they can work hard and serve hard, but they don’t do that which they are equipped by God to do.  Sometimes this happens out of a lack of opportunity, sometimes ignorance of their gifts, and other times it is simply laziness.  Everyone has talents, and everyone saved by Jesus has at least one gift.  For those who truly desire to employ their gifts, like an itch you cannot scratch, they will not rest until they can. Those who could care less whether they can identify or use their unique blessing, disregard their Creator and neglect their gift.    

#2 Neglect by not using to glorify God:  Many people employ their gifts, but not for the glory of God.  There are many who have been blessed by God with various talents and gifts.  Unfortunately, instead of using them to “make much of God”, they are often guilty of using them, to make much of themselves.  There are those who would argue that the employment of any gift is glorifying to God in that it is an expression of the imago dei in all of us.  I don’t comprehensively disagree with this concept, but most  “creative acts”, just as most individual lives, do not glorify God.  This is not to say that every creative act is sinful, though the Bible says that anything that does not proceed from faith is sin.  It is to say that God created the world to glorify Him, created us to glorify Him, and created gifts within us to glorify Him.  Only Jesus can judge a man’s heart n this respect.  As Paul says in 1Corinthians 10.31, “Whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.”  If we can eat and drink in such a way to NOT glorify God, then we can certainly employ our gifts BUT neglect to do so to the glory of God.

#3 Neglect by not using to edify the church:  Finally, there are those who use their gifts, a few who even use their gifts to glorify God, but then neglect to use them to edify the church.  According to Scriptures, gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to build up and edify the church.  In other words, gifts were designed to be exercised within community.   The church is often described as the body of Christ.  Paul makes a point to “flesh” out the body as made up of differnet parts with differnet roles.  He says in 1Corinthians 12.12ff “…14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, [5] yet one body.”   Neglecting to use your gift for the glory of God to edify the church, impacts everyone.  The community is less just as a body without an arm, eye, or leg is less.  It can manage, but could be so much more.

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Author: Sam Ford

Sam Ford is a preacher, planter, and pastor from the Pacific Northwest. He is currently pastoring Restoration Road Church in Snohomish, WA.

3 thoughts on “3 Ways to Neglect Your Gifts”

  1. I loved this post. I am a young musician and neglected to use my gifts for God for a few years. I told myself that I could write songs about whatever I wanted and still glorify God. But it was only when I fully submitted to Him and His will that good songs started pouring out. One question I have: I have felt (and had confirmed by pastors) from a young age that I was meant for some sort of ministry through music. I have attended your church a few times and am aware of the Damascus/Acts 29 stance on preachers being male, and I agree. However, is there a difference when it comes to music? Is it okay for a woman to be a minister of music? I have been studying the Word and haven’t come across anything that says otherwise. The verse “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, rather she is to remain silent” seems to only be used as it pertains to preaching. I have yet to meet anyone who would argue that a woman can’t lead worship. They do in many theologically conservative churches. So, since the Bible never says explicitly, “women may not be pastors,” we use the verse above (and others) to say women shouldn’t preach. But, since women lead worship and music often (like at Mars Hill Ballard), and the bible says nothing specifically about titles, would it then be acceptable for a woman to be a music pastor? The only female pastors I had growing up were music and children’s pastors. I have been feeling led to attend a local bible university and get my degree in worship ministry and work in a church. I do not FEEL that this goes against God’s design, but I’m trying to be extra careful and discover what God’s Word actually says about it. So, thoughts? Anything is appreciated.
    Thanks! 🙂

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  2. Ministry through music does not assume pastoral ministry. Though women cannot assume the office of elder, they can certainly be gifted teachers and musicians. The problem lies with the culture that the evangelical church has manufactured and not with Scripture. For whatever reason, many people believe that the person leading music has to be a “pastor.” It could be that their visible role in guiding a congregation this way appears like a pastor exercising authority rather than a member exercising their gifts. We have had women lead music at our church,and have used those opportunities to fight against some unbiblical views and cultural (church) expectations.

    If you are a gifted musician, I’d encourage you to start employing those gifts now. No title or position is required. God’s gifts do not require a paycheck to be employed though, unfortunately, “calls” to ministry are often confused with desire for a job . I’m not sure what a degree in worship ministry would provide, and I would always be cautious how the school might view their program. I would agree that leading music in a church does not go against the design of God, but it can quickly do harm if traditions (or convenience) begin to trump Biblical truth.

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  3. Well, I lead worship at the church I’m at now. I guess from a young age I have just felt called to work in ministry. It’s definitely not the paycheck that’s drawing me in (Would probably have to work another job), but organizing worship sets/bands, musicals, and choirs and such would be a lot to be in charge of on a volunteer basis. The degree would just be to hone to my talents and gain more knowledge so I could be better at my craft. I definitely hear what you are saying about confusing a call to ministry with a desire for a job; I’m praying God will search my heart to make sure my motives are pure.
    Thank you very much for the response, college is a hard time and I’m trying to get advice from as many sources as possible and prayerfully consider what God wants me to do.

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