Surrendering Our Gifts
Lydia Floren loves people and loves to laugh. She is passionate about helping others learn more about their identity and value and then grow to the point of connecting and sharing what they’ve learned with those around them. A practicing board-certified Family Medicine physician, Lydia earned her bachelor’s in history from Furman University and her Doctor of Medicine degree from Medical College of Georgia. Raised in a performance-based culture, she knows what it’s like to search high and low for meaning—in her career, books, activities, organizations, roles, and relationships. It wasn’t until she accepted that her value wasn’t linked to her performance that she began experiencing the radical love and grace of God. Now she writes so others can learn to be loved and then share that love with others. She is currently working on a study on guidance and writes extensively on topics of identity, value, belonging, and calling. Through her writing, Lydia connects everyday experiences with biblical truths to challenge herself and others to dig deeper and reach higher in their lives and—most of all—to simply soak in God’s love for them as a beloved child.
Q: I would argue that we all have talents, passions, and dreams—even if we haven’t fully identified or acted upon them. What does it look like to surrender our various gifts to the Lord?
A: Before we can surrender our gifts, it is important to identify what they are. It’s amazing how little we know about ourselves. A good place to start is to take a few online surveys. While none of these are foolproof, when reviewed as a whole, certain patterns emerge that can clue you in to what makes you tick. The tools I recommend for learning more about yourself are available here: http://belovedlove.org/toolbox/.
It’s tempting, once we’ve identified some core gifts, to tell God, “Thanks! I’ll take it from here.” Resist that temptation. Remember, God’s plans are always better than our own. Instead of rushing forward, take some time to pray. You might say, “Father, thank You for making me with this unique combination of talents, personality, strengths, love languages, and spiritual gifts. Please show me the best way to use these gifts to honor You and love others.”
Q: What can keep us from surrendering our gifts to the Lord?
A: Fear is a big obstacle to surrender. We can be afraid of several things. We can be afraid of God, that He won’t make clear which direction we should go. Or we can fear that if we go the way we feel led to go, that God will leave us in the lurch. We can fear losing control. We can be worried about what other people think. And we can be afraid of failing. For example, God may challenge us to use our gifts in a new way, but we are scared to step outside our comfort zone. We can even be afraid of success (I know, right?). For example, when I was writing my book, I was afraid of succeeding, and at the same time also afraid of failing. I was well and truly stuck.
Q: How can we tell if we’re working out of our own strength versus out of obedience and reliance upon the Spirit?
A: I can tell when I am not relying on God when I find myself striving or pushing to make things happen. I tend to be unsettled and anxious. When I am relying on the Holy Spirit’s guidance and power, things seem to flow more smoothly, and I feel a sense of peace. The difference is not in my degree of effort, but in my state of mind. So even when things go sideways (as they inevitably do), I can remain confident that God will stay with me and continue to lead and strengthen me.
Q: Have there been seasons in your life when God has asked you to lay down certain gifts or perhaps take up and use other ones?
A: Yes, several times. In my twenties I felt God leading me to use my gifts in medicine, so I completed med school and residency and started practicing as a Family Physician. And I loved it. But when my kids came along, I felt God leading me to work much less and focus my gifts and energy on them. When they got older, I always assumed that I would resume full-time practice. But God had something else in mind. He challenged me to continue to work part time and spend the rest of my time developing and sharing my gift of writing. This took me into the strange new world of publishing and social media. Way outside my comfort zone. Since then, I’ve published several articles, written over two-hundred blog posts, and even finished writing a book about living a God-guided life. All of this was unimaginable to me eight years ago.
Q: What word of encouragement do you have for someone struggling to identify their gifts and use them for the Lord?
A: Over the course of your life, you will continue to learn more things about yourself. So don’t sweat it. God will help you discover the gifts you need at the time, and He will also teach you how to use them.
If you are just getting started, here are some steps that will help:
Surveys. Start with doing the surveys mentioned above, they are not always accurate, but I think you’ll find the same things keep coming up repeatedly.
Feedback. Next get feedback about your results from people who know you well. See if what you’ve discovered jives with what they know about you.
Pray for insight. Ask God to show you what is true and what He wants you to see. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (ESV).
Pray for direction. Ask God to show you how He wants you to use those gifts. “The LORD says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you‘” (Psalm 32:8, NLT).
Move forward. Do what you feel like God is directing you to do, the best you know how, and understand that He’s got your back. If you get off course, He will come find you and put you back on the right path.
Lydia makes her home in Eau Claire,
Wisconsin with her husband, Andrew.
They have three grown sons.
Connect with her online at http://belovedlove.org/.