“Sweet spot.” Golfers understand the term. So do tennis players. Ever swung a baseball bat or paddled a Ping-Pong ball? If so, you know the oh-so-nice feel of the sweet spot. Connect with these prime inches of real estate and kapow! The collective technologies of the universe afterburn the ball into orbit, leaving you Frisbee eyed and strutting. Your arm doesn’t tingle, and the ball doesn’t ricochet. Your boyfriend remembers birthdays, the tax refund comes early, and the flight attendant bumps you up to first class. Life in the sweet spot rolls like the downhill side of a downwind bike ride.
But you don’t have to swing a bat or a club to know this. What engineers give sports equipment, God gave you. A zone, a region, a life precinct in which you were made to dwell. He tailored the curves of your life to fit an empty space in his jigsaw puzzle. And life makes sweet sense when you find your spot. But how do you? Where do you go? What pills do you order, class do you take, or infomercial do you watch? None of the above. Simply quarry . . . your uniqueness.
Da Vinci painted one Mona Lisa. Beethoven composed one Fifth Symphony. And God made one version of you. He custom designed you for a one-of-a-kind assignment. Mine like a gold digger the unique-to-you nuggets from your life.
When I was six years old, my father built us a house. Architectural Digest didn’t notice, but my mom sure did. Dad constructed it, board by board, every day after work. My youth didn’t deter him from giving me a job. He tied an empty nail apron around my waist, placed a magnet in my hands, and sent me on daily patrols around the building site, carrying my magnet only inches off the ground.
One look at my tools and you could guess my job. Stray-nail collector. One look at yours and the same can be said. Brick by brick, life by life, God is creating a kingdom, a “spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:5 CEV). He entrusted you with a key task in the project. Examine your tools and discover it. Your ability unveils your destiny. “If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 4:11). When God gives an assignment, he also gives the skill. Study your skills, then, to reveal your assignment.
Look at you. Your uncanny ease with numbers. Your quenchless curiosity about chemistry. Others stare at blueprints and yawn; you read them and drool. “I was made to do this,” you say.
Heed that inner music. No one else hears it the way you do.
At this very moment in another section of the church building in which I write, little kids explore their tools. Preschool classrooms may sound like a cacophony to you and me, but God hears a symphony.
A five-year-old sits at a crayon-strewn table. He seldom talks. Classmates have long since set aside their papers, but he ponders his. The colors compel him. He marvels at the gallery of kelly green and navy blue and royal purple. Masterpiece in hand, he’ll race to Mom and Dad, eager to show them his kindergarten Picasso.
His sister, however, forgets her drawing. She won’t consume the home commute with tales of painted pictures. She’ll tell tales of tales. “The teacher told us a new story today!” And the girl will need no prodding to repeat it.
Another boy cares less about the story and the drawings and more about the other kids. He spends the day wearing a “Hey, listen to me!” expression, lingering at the front of the class, testing the patience of the teacher. He relishes attention, evokes reactions. His theme seems to be “Do it this way. Come with me. Let’s try this.”
Meaningless activities at an insignificant age? Or subtle hints of hidden strengths? I opt for the latter. The quiet boy with the color fascination may someday brighten city walls with murals. His sister may pen a screenplay or teach literature to curious coeds. And the kid who recruits followers today might eventually do the same on behalf of a product, the poor, or even his church.
What about you? Our Maker gives assignments to people, “to each according to each one’s unique ability” (Matt. 25:15).1 As he calls, he equips. Look back over your life. What have you consistently done well? What have you loved to do? Stand at the intersection of your affections and successes and find your uniqueness.
You have one. A divine spark.2 An uncommon call to an uncommon life. “The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others” (1 Cor. 12:7 CEV). So much for the excuse “I don’t have anything to offer.” Did the apostle Paul say, “The Spirit has given some of us . . .”? Or, “The Spirit has given a few of us . . .”? No. “The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others.” Enough of this self-deprecating “I can’t do anything.”
And enough of its arrogant opposite: “I have to do everything.” No, you don’t! You’re not God’s solution to society, but a solution in society. Imitate Paul, who said, “Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us” (2 Cor. 10:13 NLT). Clarify your contribution. Don’t worry about skills you don’t have. Don’t covet strengths others do have. Just extract your uniqueness. “Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you” (2 Tim. 1:6 NASB). And do so to . . . make a big deal out of God.
“Everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by his power, and everything is for his glory” (Rom. 11:36 TLB). The breath you just took? God gave that. The blood that just pulsed through your heart? Credit God. The light by which you read and the brain with which you process? He gave both.
Everything comes from him . . . and exists for him. We exist to exhibit God, to display his glory. We serve as canvases for his brush stroke, papers for his pen, soil for his seeds, glimpses of his image. Texas A&M’s T-shirted football fans model our role. In the aftermath of September 11, many Americans sought an opportunity to demonstrate patriotism and solidarity. Five students set the pace. They designated the next home football game as Red, White, and Blue Out and sold T-shirts to each of the seventy thousand fans. Kyle Field morphed into a human flag as those seated in the third deck wore red, the second deck wore white, and the lower deck wore blue. Newspapers across America splashed the picture on front pages.3
Newsworthy indeed! How often do thousands of people billboard a singular, powerful message? God fashioned us to do so for him. “Each person is given something to do that shows who God is” (1 Cor. 12:7 MSG). He distributes, not shirts, but strengths. He sends people, not to bleacher seats, but to life assignments: “Go to your place. Dispatch your abilities, and unfurl my goodness.”
Most refuse. Few cooperate. We accept the present, but neglect its purpose. We accept the gift, thank you, but ignore the Giver and promote self. Why, some of us have been known to parade up and down the aisles, shouting, “Hey, look at me!”
Need an explanation for the anarchy in the world? You just read it. When you center-stage your gifts and I pump my image and no one gives a lick about honoring God, dare we expect anything short of chaos?
God endows us with gifts so we can make him known. Period. God endues the Olympian with speed, the salesman with savvy, the surgeon with skill. Why? For gold medals, closed sales, or healed bodies? Only partially.
The big answer is to make a big to-do out of God. Brandish him. Herald him. “God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well. . . . Then God will be given glory” (1 Pet. 4:10?11 NLT).
Live so that “he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything — encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” (1 Pet. 4:11 MSG). Exhibit God with your uniqueness. When you magnify your Maker with your strengths, when your contribution enriches God’s reputation, your days grow suddenly sweet. And to really dulcify your world, use your uniqueness to make a big deal about God . . . every day of your life.
Heaven’s calendar has seven Sundays a week. God sanctifies each day. He conducts holy business at all hours and in all places. He uncommons the common by turning kitchen sinks into shrines, café³ into convents, and nine-to-five workdays into spiritual adventures.
Workdays? Yes, workdays. He ordained your work as something good. Before he gave Adam a wife or a child, even before he gave Adam britches, God gave Adam a job. “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15 NASB). Innocence, not indolence, characterized the first family.
God views work worthy of its own engraved commandment: “You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest” (Exod. 34:21 NASB). We like the second half of that verse. But emphasis on the day of rest might cause us to miss the command to work: “You shall work six days.” Whether you work at home or in the marketplace, your work matters to God.
And your work matters to society. We need you! Cities need plumbers. Nations need soldiers. Stoplights break. Bones break. We need people to repair the first and set the second. Someone has to raise kids, raise cane, and manage the kids who raise Cain.
Whether you log on or lace up for the day, you imitate God. Jehovah himself worked for the first six days of creation. Jesus said, “My Father never stops working, and so I keep working, too” (John 5:17 NCV). Your career consumes half of your lifetime. Shouldn’t it broadcast God? Don’t those forty to sixty hours a week belong to him as well?
The Bible never promotes workaholism or an addiction to employment as pain medication. But God unilaterally calls all the physically able to till the gardens he gives. God honors work. So honor God in your work. “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good” (Eccles. 2:24 NASB).
I just heard a groan.
“But, Max,” someone objects, “my work is simply that — work! It pays my bills, but numbs my soul.” (You’re only a few pages from some help.) “Job satisfaction? How about job survival? How do I survive a job misfit?” (I have some ideas.)
“I have no clue how to find my skill.” (By the end of the book you will.) “Honor God? After the mess I’ve made of my life?” (Don’t miss the chapter on mercy.)
For now, here is the big idea:
Use your uniqueness (what you do) to make a big deal out of God (why you do it)every day of your life (where you do it).
At the convergence of all three, you’ll find the cure for the common life: your sweet spot.
Sweet spot. You have one, you know. Your life has a plot; your years have a theme. You can do something in a manner that no one else can. And when you find it and do it, another sweet spot is discovered. Let’s find yours.
Adaped from Cures for the Common Life by Max Lucado.
Copyright © 2006 by Max Lucado, published by Thomas Nelson, used with permission.