By Gail Broeckel
Three monkeys shared a tree in the forest. Banana Monkey always collected bananas. Corn Monkey always collected corn. Coconut Monkey always collected coconuts. Banana Monkey made bread, pudding, and smoothies. He tried every method he could think of to make his meals more interesting. He was getting tired of bananas. Corn Monkey made corn on the cob, corn salad, and corn salsa. He took extra time to come up with menus that would be appealing. He was so tired of eating the same thing day after day. Coconut Monkey made coconut cookies, coconut bread, and coconut ice cream. No matter what he made, he just wished that he had something else.
One day, Banana Monkey’s cousin visited from across the river. His name was Flower Monkey. He looked at the pile of bananas, corn, and coconuts. Flower Monkey said, “Have you ever tried combining your food and putting your ingredients together or trading your items so that you don’t eat the same thing every day? If you only have one type of food, how will you ever grow your taste buds? It seems that if you work together, you can share your individual gifts and have a nice rewarding meal every day.”
My dad used to share that story with my brother and me when we were growing up. He had the gift of storytelling. First Peter 4:10, 11 (NIV) reads:
"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen."
Sometimes, we may not think we have a gift to give to God as worship. You don’t have to have a specialized degree and years of experience to have a gift. All you need is the desire to worship God with a talent that He has already given you.
Kindness is a gift that most people already have. Do you have a pet that means a lot to you? You probably feed it every day, take it for walks, and brush its coat. Kindness is a way to show how much you care for others. Even just by being yourself, you can show someone else that they matter and that you would make a good friend.
Galatians 6:2 (NIV) reads: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” You can use your gift of kindness to help someone else feel better about themselves. Do you ever see someone sitting alone in the cafeteria or at recess? It doesn’t take much to make a person feel better. You could say, “Hello” or offer to play a game with the person. You could have some of your friends join you and have lunch with the person who is sitting alone. Most people just want to feel liked and accepted. Not having a lot of friends or not having the gift of making friends can cause sadness. If you have the gift of kindness, you can help those around you.
Worshiping doesn’t take place only in a church. Your behavior can be a good or bad example for others. If you are a good person, you can influence those around you just by being who you are. Perhaps your gift is hospitality. You can make others feel welcome in your home or at a ballgame or a party. Acts 16:33, 34 talks about a jailor who brought people into his house and made a meal for them. The simple act of hospitality brought him joy. You can receive joy by helping others. Once you make it a practice, you will be amazed at how your gifts can not only make those around you happy, but your blessings will also be increased.
God is happy when you use your gifts to help others. Your gift could be managing people or events. You might be captain of your baseball team. You could be a great example to your class just by being a good athlete or leader. If someone doesn’t score a point, that is OK. If your team wins or loses, remember it is nicer not to be a sore loser or a boastful winner. If you win, shake hands or hug or teammates and tell them what a great game they played. If you lose, shake hands with the other team and tell them how happy you are that you had the opportunity to play with such a skilled group. Sportsmanship might be your gift. Think about athletes who have given thanks to God and who serve Him just by being decent players. When you use the gifts that God blessed you with, you are worshiping Him. You may not be in a church or holding a Bible, but you are still worshiping Him.
Your gifts might be creativity or art. Bob Ross was a famous painter who spoke with a gentle voice while he created his artwork. Ross hosted the instructional television program The Joy of Painting from 1983 to 1994. He was skilled at taking a canvas and making a wonderful sunset, garden, or other creation for people to enjoy. I think his actual talent was love. He was so popular because he could make drawing even a straight line seem interesting. He explained what he was doing with his brush, and he made entertaining comments while he created a wonderful work of art. My family still watches his show. We love adding comments while he paints a picture. His programs are not just for artists. His work was about community, storytelling, and making anyone feel as if they could accomplish something. Philippians 2:3 (NLT) says, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Bob Ross was always nice and never boastful. He used to make fun of himself. He passed away in 1995. His shows remain popular, and several art schools all over the country spread his style. If you use your creative gifts, you can not only build a wonderful career, but you can help others.
You might be wondering, “What is my gift?” I can’t even throw a ball or understand my math assignment. How can I worship God with my gifts? To answer those questions, I need to ask you: What makes you happy? What do you enjoy doing that brings you joy? Do you enjoy cooking with one of your parents or grandparents?
When she was young, chef Amy Riolo used to cook with her grandmother. Her goal was just to spend quality time with someone she loved. Her grandmother shared her recipes and showed her how to prepare special Italian dishes. Amy has taken her passion for cooking and transformed it into a career. She has published nine cookbooks. She takes students on culinary tours and teaches cooking classes at universities and businesses. In these ways Amy was basically sharing her passion for cooking with her grandmother and eating healthier, and now she has sponsors all over the world and is a successful chef and author. She is kind to everyone she meets. It just comes naturally to her. First Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (NIV).
Your gift doesn’t have to be complicated. If you are a young person still living at home, you might enjoy helping your family organize the garage or clean up after a meal. Your gift could be organization. You could start by helping to keep the house tidy. Take out the garbage, make your bed, or clean the litter box without being asked. Take the initiative to do it yourself. The blessings will trickle down. Your parents will be proud of you. Houseguests will be impressed with how clean the house is. Your cat will love you for helping it to have a clean area. First Corinthians 14:40 (KJV) says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” You can use your gifts when you are taking the dirty dishes to the sink, helping your teacher straighten up the classroom, or folding the laundry at home.
If your parents give you money for using your gifts to help around the house, why not start a habit of honoring God and thanking Him for His gift by thinking of Him first and returning tithes and giving offerings from the money you receive for your help?
A gift is a gift. Big or small, you have something special. Ask your parents or family members what your gift is. Talk to your friends. Ask them what three things they like about you. Take those gifts and use them to make others happy. If you bring someone joy, you bring God joy. You are using your gift. You don’t have to do it alone. Working together is the best gift of all.