When you’re wrestling with how to serve well when you feel you’re losing yourself

Rachel Spier Weaver is in the business of identifying gifts. As recruiter at a Christ-centered non-profit, she has spoken with hundreds of women, many of whom have struggled to claim their gifts and whose stories impassioned her to rediscover the women in the Bible. This inspired Rachel to write Called and Courageous Girls, a children’s book series spotlighting women in Scripture who embraced their unique gifts and boldly lived out their faith. It’s a grace to welcome Rachel to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Rachel Spier Weaver

This weekend was girls’ weekend. Five college roommates together at a cabin in the woods of West Virginia with lots of food.

It was the picture of perfection: no distractions, no rules.

But after the reunion hugs, we got down to business. As we were sitting on couches and huddled under blankets by the fire, the stories began to flow, and there were a lot.

This time it was one story of loss that bore the most weight.

Loss of self.

Nineteen years of sacrifice to husband, kids, home, and the result was emptiness. She feels alone and depleted, sick, devoid of anything that she once called “hers”—her love of skiing, U2, big-city exploring, learning for learning’s sake.

She isn’t using her gifts—can’t, really, because she doesn’t remember what they are.

Over the course of the weekend, we prodded, questioned, investigated. Like a three-day therapy session with four counselors, each from a different school of thought. She left on Sunday either with all her problems solved or completely overwhelmed. Probably the latter.

You’d think that the number of times I’ve had this type of conversation, I’d be better at it by now.

A few months ago, I reconnected with a friend of 27 years. We talk every six months or so; she’s the type of friend you can pick up with after going months without a call or text.

This time she unloaded about her failing marriage.

After nearly 18 years of marriage, she had given up. Four moves across the country in response to her husband’s job, years of homeschooling, fostering countless children, and extreme isolation and loneliness has taken its toll.

She has forgotten who God has created her to be, and at 41 years old, she is trying to find her soul again.

For many of us, we have grown up to believe that our best contribution, our calling, is to lay down our gifts at the altar. And we sacrifice ourselves at the expense of our gifts—those beautiful, heroic, blessed gifts bestowed on us by God—and lose ourselves.

Many of us have wrestled with the polarity of this choice. Do we sacrifice ourselves for the love of our children and spouse, or do we selfishly explore our own giftedness?

As a recruiter at a faith-based non-profit, I have had countless conversations with hopeful candidates who are exploring opportunities at the organization. I get to listen to their stories and observe how they share about their skills, passions, and gifts.

Over the years, I have had approximately 1,500 interviews and have gotten pretty good at identifying confidence versus arrogance, humility versus self-deprecation.

What I have learned is that women are far more likely to unintentionally self-sabotage in the interview process.

Women often focus on everything except their gifts.

It happens after years of believing that self-sacrifice and using our gifts are mutually exclusive.

Of course, we remember: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:23).

But enacting our gifts doesn’t equal being selfish. We lose ourselves because of this fraudulent polarity.

God—through Paul—wasn’t just talking to women in his letter to the Philippians.

Service is something we are called to, not because we are women, but because we are human, made in the image of God, the perfect example of service and sacrifice.

Jesus, God incarnate, washed the feet of His disciples, including one who would ultimately betray Him, thereby causing the greatest sacrifice in history.

Service is for all of us.

But somehow women like my friends are losing themselves while serving. The unraveling, the corrosion of their beings, happens over time.

We begin to think that service is our gift, that God has gifted women as an entire population the same way: to serve their families and sacrifice themselves.

No. Serving is something for all of us, but our gifts are unique, personalized imprints on our souls that are meant to be explored, refined, and practiced.

Lately I’ve been studying Priscilla’s story in Acts. I’ve been reminded of how she used her gifts of teaching and preaching to build the Church. She quite literally guided and redirected the leading scholars of the day, which led to conversion of multitudes.

What if she had just served her husband in the most traditional sense?

What if she had neglected to also use the other gifts she had been given?

Without her acts of teaching and preaching, the name of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit would not have had the reach it did.

Praise God that she served and used her other gifts well!

I wonder what it will be like when we begin to operate out of a model that encourages us to serve and use our gifts.

This will mean untangling the repercussions of isolating service as women’s only gift of value.

It will require us to embrace our other gifts.

But maybe one day embracing those gifts will allow us to serve in greater measure.

 

Rachel Spier Weaver is a recruiter at HOPE International and has worked as a career counselor at the University of Florida and Dickinson College. She is passionate about sharing stories of women of God who led in extraordinary ways. 

Called and courageous girls are disciples, political and spiritual leaders, philanthropists, moms, businesspeople, evangelists, prophets, and so much more. Called and courageous women of the Bible face overwhelming odds, finding strength, faith, and courage to join God’s story.

Through examples of steadfast faith and—ultimately—God’s direction, the Called and Courageous Girls series invites your children to answer God’s calling to discover and use their talents, passions, and gifts to journey with Him on a lifelong adventure. God is calling every courageous hero—including your child—to arise, trust in Him, and join the Greatest Story. Called and Courageous Girls—Bible Heroes Who Inspire Your Child’s Faith in God.

[ Our humble thanks to Harvest House for their partnership in today’s devotion ]

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