“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills”
- 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
If someone asked you what you were good at, would you be able to answer that question with confidence? Everyone is good at something. The challenge arises when we step out of our own lane and try to do something that someone else is good at. Let me take you through how I learned to water my gifts.
During my tenure in Lusaka, I met and grew close to some pretty remarkable women. We were all stay at home moms, hailing from different African countries but brought together by husbands whose careers has landed them posts in Zambia. So we became the soccer mom gang that would either meet in the parking lot as we dropped the kids off at school at that one International School in the city, or we would meet up for a step aerobics class at the neighborhood gym, coffee at the mall or weekly bible study meetings.
I marveled at how gifted these women were. One had a knack for cooking and spent a lot of time meal planning for her family and packing lunches for her husband who was seemingly always on the road. Even when we came over, she always had some mighty spreads across her dining table it was like “Alright Martha Stewart! Carry on!”
Another had a way with décor, putting together the most intricate pieces in her home to create masterpieces that could feature in any House & Home magazine. Another just looked amazing – all the time. In fact there were two of them. One had two kids while the other had three; both were always running around taking their babies for their activities which was the norm in our circles. What was striking was the manner in which their hair, outfits et al always looked right. With banging bodies to match, these two were the hotties in the group, global travellers that were always on a flight somewhere for side-hustles or leisure; which had me inspired like “man when will I be able to get my jet-setting on and rock the biggest names in fashion?”
One of the ladies opened a store which gained acclaim for contemporary African apparel pretty quick. There wasn’t a store I had seen like it in Lusaka in the way she had decorated it and the stock she was bringing in. Surrounded by so many entrepreneurially-minded women, I began to feel a little left behind and thought to start my own thing too. So I did. I started bringing in shoes and handbags from the States, leveraging my knowledge of brands and price points from my early days in retail working for Gap, WetSeal Inc., Banana Republic etc. I knew that Zambian women were big on fashion, had access to the demographic I was targeting so figured I could pull it off quite well.
Here was the kicker though. In my hurry to get situated and “start my own thing”, I neglected to carry out the due diligence in researching added costs associated with importing products. I didn’t factor in such elements as shipment weight, duty, delivery times and charges for express shipping and so on. Product started coming in, women were buying, but I was barely breaking even. Add to that that I’m married to a finance guru, so he was on my pulse calculating whether what I was doing made any financial sense.
Yeah I was “doing something” but it didn’t come with the fulfillment I imagined it would, nor that which I sensed in my friends who were also capitalizing on what they loved doing. My motivations for starting this business were founded on all the wrong reasons. I was surrounded by women doing their own thing and seemingly doing well at it. I didn’t want to get left behind so thought to join in on the women “buying and selling stuff”. I knew that I loved shoes and handbags, but not enough to want to sell them. I was about shopping for shoes and bags for me, not for resale!!!
What started off as an idea to have a boutique business quickly weighed me down as I struggled to stay on top of the admin of it all, including managing costs associated with servicing clients adequately. So the business just died, because it wasn’t mine to begin with. I was motivated by the notion of being like the others, without factoring in what I was good at, what GOD wanted me to do in that season of my life and how He could help me develop what I was good at.
All was not lost though, for in that time I took to journaling which has brought me to where I am today. Journaling created a blog which perfected my passion for writing, which is a huge component of my career in PR. I am operating in my gifting and believing in GOD to take it beyond my imagination to where my words begin to touch lives through ministry and mentorship.
My message today is for you beloved, you who seeks clarity on how to define yourself and your purpose. Maybe you haven’t even found it yet and are just looking to understand where your life is even going. There are many titles thrown around each day with some boasting some pretty fierce talents and accolades that leave you wishing that could be you. I implore you to understand that our definition lies not in what we can do, or what job we work at from one day to the next, but who WE ARE IN CHRIST. We can carry several letters after our names and titles preceding that, but without GOD, our gifts are not made known nor is there clarity in our purpose and how to share it in impactful ways within our communities.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him”
- James 1:5
If you find yourself trying to figure out what you should be doing, ask GOD to minister to you about your gifts, your passions – the things that make your heart dance as you do them. Trust me when I say this; life is really too short to spend pursuing ventures you aren’t passionate about as was the case with me trying to run a shoe boutique. Sometimes the money isn’t even worth it when the endeavor is shrouded in misery and misappropriated motivation.
Don’t spend any more time pursuing things that aren’t tied to your GOD-ordained gifts and the stuff you are passionate about.