Imagine I give my son a perfect gift. After diligently studying his maturity, interests, and weaknesses, I create a gift ideally suited to develop his wisdom, faith, and character. Nothing else could better match his needs and deepest desires. When I give him this gift, he says, “Thanks, Mom, but you gave my sister more paper clips than me.”
God gives us such perfect gifts in the roles we play in His church. Yet, we grumble about who got what.
“Why is her small group bigger than mine?” “Why does he get to serve at the podium while I serve in the nursery?” “He must be more important.” “God must love her better.”
To compare roles is to count paper clips. Neither is a valid measure of our worth.
Worth comes from identity. Identity is who you are in Jesus Christ, a unique person created by God in His image. Roles are to identity what works are to faith. Works result from faith, not vice versa. Similarly, roles express our identity, but do not determine it.
You may have many roles throughout life: friend, spouse, boss, student. parent, child, caretaker… Roles are opportunities God gives us tailor-made to further both our own growth and His glory. Some are glamorous. Some are not. All are custom designed by God to make us the people He wants us to be. They are perfect gifts.
In 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul reprimands the Corinthians for comparing gifts. Paul acknowledges that gifts vary in their importance, but insists that the people who have the gifts do not. For example, Paul had a greater impact on Christianity than I have, but we are equal before God. Or as Paul says, a foot is no less part of the body because it is not hand (1 Corinthians 12:15). Even as God designed us to be differently gifted, He made us fellow-heirs of His kingdom.
So while we play unequal roles, we are equal members of God’s family. We have the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). That is our identity.
In comparison, our roles are paper clips. Any role that offers the opportunity to serve God’s kingdom is important — including the “secular,” “mundane,” and “trivial.” God calls some to be hands, some to be feet, and some to be elbows, but we all receive the same grace, same mercy, and same salvation.
Joy is found in faithfully and obediently fulfilling the roles God designs especially for you, regardless of how glamorous or invisible they are.
With a gift so perfect, the rest is mere paper clips.