Last October, I surprised my husband Jeremiah with a boat ride at a local harbor for his birthday. We boarded a beautiful wooden catamaran that seated about 30 people. Scott was our captain. He was super friendly and we knew we were in for a treat on the lake. It was just what we needed after a stressful week.

About 30 minutes into our sail, Scott came by to accept our payment. Jeremiah initiated a conversation with Scott on how he got involved in sailing.

“I got on the computer and Googled ‘how to build a boat,’ ” he said.

“I found all the necessary resources and started building. I never dreamed I’d be taking 35 trips a week and that my business would grow like this.”

Then he said something profound that stuck with both of us:

“I think it’s important to find what you love to do and serve others through it.”

You could tell that Scott had what he wanted in life. He’d been married to his wife of 30+ years, his children were grown and doing well, and he loved his work. But not only that, he was blessing the lives of a lot of people—every week.

During the remainder of the trip, I thought about how God distributes gifts to people and how the purpose of those gifts is to edify and equip the Church. So often we can get caught up in the what-my-gift-will-do-for-me mentality.

But it’s not about that at all. Certainly, our gifts and passions draw us closer to God, make us come alive, and give us meaning and purpose. But our gifts aren’t for us to hoard and hide inside our own little box.

We’re supposed to give our gifts away. And if we think anything different, we’re missing the boat.

I don’t know if you’ve found your gift or the one thing you want to spend your life doing. I don’t know if you’re discouraged in that pursuit, or if you find it hard to believe that you have something to contribute.

But what I do know is God created each of us for a purpose, and that involves building into the lives of others.

You have something to offer that no one else does, and other people need you to draw out your gifts, however that might look and whatever risks or uncertainties it might require.

What are you really passionate about? Maybe you have a heart for teaching, justice, proclaiming truth, encouraging others, serving, or using your resources to bless others. The truth about God’s unique gifting is that you’ll know it when you find it. It might take some time but it will come. You’ll have this craving to do it again and again. You’ll think about it often and talk about it with others. You’ll most likely find other people affirming you.

When you view your gifts with an outward focus, your life will change. Your perspective will shift away from yourself and onto how God can use you to make a difference in the lives of others.

In middle school, I started journaling. It was how I felt closest to the Lord and it was the easiest way for me to write out my prayers and remember them. It also came naturally, just like the assignments in my Creative Writing class. After receiving my first publishing contract in college (seven or so journals later), I realized that God was starting to call me out of my comfort zone of personal journaling and into the more vulnerable territory of writing for an actual audience.

As the years passed and I started writing for other publications, I realized even more that writing was my number one passion. But the best thing about it was that I could use my writing to serve and encourage other people and help build God’s kingdom. My focus, including my goals, started to shift. Still today, I’m learning what it means to be outwardly focused, and I’ve found much joy in the journey.

“Find what you love and serve others.”

I’ll always remember the wisdom Captain Scott imparted to us that evening on the lake, and I hope it will encourage you too.

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