Sometimes, to learn what you’re good at, you have to try new things, fail a lot, surprise yourself, succeed… all while leaning into your giftedness and discovering what you were created to do.
And sometimes, to pursue what you’re good at, you have to quit. You have to shake hands, cry, hug people goodbye, close a door, walk out…. so you can keep moving toward the life you are called to live.
I spent the last two years working at Homeboy Industries, a non-profit organization in Los Angeles that provides hope, job-training and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women. Fresh out of college with a deep longing to be a part of the community, I didn’t have a clue what I could contribute, except for my love for people and my desire to stand with those who have been thrown away by our society.
During my time at Homeboy, I tried my hand at many things, some of which I was good at, others, not so much. I quickly discovered that I was adept at listening to, at accompanying, and at encouraging the men and women in the program. So I began to gravitate toward opportunities to create safe spaces for the trainees in the program to share their personal stories, where they were then empowered to share their transformational journeys with visitors. I had been radically impacted by the courage, hope and love of the Homeboy community, and in turn, I had the chance to equip the next generation of Homeboy evangelists to inspire others!
A trainee once told me, “Lauren, I never thought I would be able to tell my story. It was too painful. But first in class and now doing tours for visitors, I’ve discovered the healing power of sharing with others. And I’ve learned that people who I thought were so different from me actually care.”
It was an honor to accompany people on this journey of discovering their inherent worth; their belovedness.
Over time, what became increasingly clear to me was that the desire that had motivated me to connect with Homeboy Industries in the first place was, in fact, my area of giftedness: shepherding a community.
I had known, at least theoretically, that I was gifted pastorally, but it wasn’t until I began regularly exercising these muscles that I felt confident that I have been equipped in this particular way to live out my divine calling.
I am a Master of Divinity student, and the work I did at Homeboy Industries is what revealed to me that I am on the right career path. I needed to develop my pastoral gift outside of the classroom.
Recently, I realized I was ready to fully commit to my giftedness.
And this meant it was time to quit Homeboy to embark on the next part of my journey. It has been an exciting and scary time, as I hopefully await what God has in store for me in this next season.
Quitting has created an in-between space: a moment to pause and reflect on everything I learned in the last season as God turns the page to the next one.
Sometimes we think we need to know exactly what it is we are good at and how exactly we are gifted before we say yes to an opportunity, whether it is a job, a volunteer position, a relationship or a hobby. Conversely, we are often terrified to quit something that we know we can do decently, even when it is not life giving, or we know that we are being called to step out of our comfort zone and into something new.
But life doesn’t usually afford us easy answers.
Often, our gifts will catch us unaware, when we have chosen to start something or leave something behind, and we are surprised to discover that God has equipped us for just this moment.
Beginnings provide us with opportunities to try things on, to explore and to discover our gifts.
Endings are a chance to reflect on what we have learned, on where God has grown us and on where we are being led.
And in both of these moments—beginnings and endings—and in all the moments in between, God is growing us, leading us and turning us into the people we were created to be, as we join God in bringing healing to a hurting world.
INVEST IN YOUR GOD-GIVEN GIFTS AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Your Gifts: Spiritual Gifts Discovery
God created you with purpose and passion—learn how you can take the gifts He has given you and use them to advance His Kingdom in ways you never imagined.