Thursday, February 28, 2008

Your Very First Prize

Last Sunday night countless people stood on Hollywood's biggest stage and took home the prize of a lifetime. The Oscar is heralded as Hollywood's crowning achievement. Even those with top-notch careers covet one if it tends to elude them.

I skipped the Oscar's this year because I had other things on my schedule last weekend. But I've thought a lot about prizes and success lately because I've spent the last week or so as a judge for a nationwide writing contest for students in grades 4-12. With every single essay, short story or poem I poured over I hesistated to write my score in the little box at the bottom of the sheet. For me, the score at the bottom wasn't just a number. It was determining factor of whether or not some of these kids would be recognized for an outstanding achievement in writing. In some ways, it could be the first step in fueling a dream.

Even as a published author of nine titles, winning my very first writing contest at the age of 13 is still a precious memory for me. I remember vividly being told I was a great writer for the first time in the second grade. And I can still feel the butterflies I had in my stomach when I read my very first poem outloud in elementary school. The affirmation I received in each of those moments kept me going on a path God had divinely placed me on even back then. So it is with careful thought and precision that I write my final score in the box on each student's evaluation sheet.

However, affirmation isn't always a confirmation that we are on the right track. And opposition isn't always an indication that we are on the wrong one. My pastor taught a very compelling sermon this weekend using the four spiritual gifts lists in the Bible (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Peter 4:10). He explained that these lists exist merely as guides--not every gift God gives is on one of those lists, and none of those four lists are the same. So they are, by no means, conclusive. But this principle holds fast, God has given gifts for the edification of the body. You have been given a gift by God to use for His glory. However, God reserves the right to change your ministry at any point in your journey. I may write books for the next fifty years of my life, or I may be done at nine titles. That's not for me to know until God reveals it.

But, what is up to me is how well I do the task at hand. Did I write all nine of my books in such a way that if God changes my ministry now I can honestly look back and say I finished well? I sure hope so. What about you? What gift has God placed in your heart? Are you applying yourself to that gift in a way that will allow you to someday say you finished well?

I'm sorry for not writing on this blog as regularly as I should.
I will be on here more frequently now. In the meantime you can visit my daily blog here.

No comments: