We are all gifted

13th January 2022

GIFTED andrew frere-smith

I believe we are all gifted, in one way or another. Our gifts are intended to be a blessing to others and to bless us. There have been occasions when I have witnessed people using their gifts and it has almost taken my breath away, whether they were a Premier League footballer, an award-winning musician, or an actor on a West End stage. These people, at the peak of their profession, seem to be able to do the impossible and they make it look easy!
Impressive though these people undoubtedly are, the most impressive are those who use their gifts selflessly, people who are driven by a deep sense of compassion. They do not necessarily receive a high salary or public acclaim. Much of their best work goes unseen. Their reward comes simply from knowing that they have helped someone and in doing so have used their time well. These are the people that do take my breath away
Witnessing the work of nurses and care staff, looking after the sick and elderly, has left me humbled. Watching a volunteer in a homeless hostel give their full attention to a guest, who is past the state of even caring for themselves, has been inspiring. And no less wonderful, the primary school teaching assistant assigned a pupil with ADHD, who tests their patience to the limit, and yet they start each day offering a clean slate, a new start, endless hope, and forgiveness
Gregory Boyle describes these compassionate people in his book ‘Tattoos on the Heart’. He claims they have Christ-like qualities because they ‘chose a oneness in kinship and a willingness to live in other’s hearts. Jesus was not a man for others. He was a man with others...Jesus didn’t seek the rights of lepers. He touched the leper even before he got round to curing him. He didn’t champion the cause of the outcast. He was the outcast…The strategy of Jesus is not centred in taking the right stand on issues, but rather standing in the right place – with the outcast and those relegated to the margins’*
I have had the privilege of meeting people who possess some of this Christ-like compassion. They absolutely take my breath away. Perhaps it’s time I stopped dreaming of becoming a professional footballer. I think there might be a better way to try and use my gifts!

*Gregory BOYLE, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. New York: Free Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4391-5315-4 page 72

Development Worker
Imagine Norfolk Together

top photo courtesy of Imagine Norfolk Together