One of the things I have heard bandied about in female Christian circles from time to time is the sentiment that a woman has gifts she feels she is not being given opportunity to use properly. I felt like that once in my Christian life (probably more than once if I'm being honest with myself). What I ultimately came to understand was that my problem wasn't that God wasn't giving me opportunity to use my gifts; he wasn't letting me use them in a way I wanted to use them.
Just because we have a gift in a certain area does not mean we will use it everywhere we want. Furthermore, we may not be recognized as using them. Often, the place we use our gifts as women is in the background, and you know what? That's okay. It isn't about us. It isn't about being recognized. The moment I begin to grumble about not being recognized, I'm in trouble, because that reveals my pride.
Quite a few years ago, I heard a woman give a word of encouragement at a bible study conference. She shared the story about how she desired to teach the Scriptures. The Lord presented her with a group of students she never imagined for herself: 4 and 5 year old kids. Not really sure where the Lord was taking her, she jumped in to service. She flourished. She grew. She was blessed beyond measure. Her word to us was that it was the smallest of ministries, but it was where she knew she was in the will of God. She was happy quietly working at away with these young lives. Many years later, an opportunity to teach women came her way, and she was able to do that, but she said even if that had never come along, she would have been content.
I learned a little bit about that last winter. I was teaching a ladies' bible study, and I only ever had about five students, whereas the other ladies' class had almost 30. I felt very inadequate and grumbly about it. After some discussions with my husband and a good friend, I saw my pride, and realized that I had to adopt a different attitude. My husband reminded me that if my only reason for being there was for those five women, than that was just fine. It was okay in the end. It was small, but profitable. And the women who wanted to be there were there.
It's not about me; it's about what serves God the best.
The reality is that sometimes, what serves God best is for us to be unrecognized, in the background. Ordinary.
When we begin to mutter and grumble about not being able to use our gifts, our first question must be this: whose way do I want? God's way, or my own? And if I believe that God's way cannot possible be anything but what I want, then I'm in even worse trouble.