And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ - Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV)
For the past few years, I have struggled with the "five-fold" gifts. I am certain that these gifts are for equipping the saints and not for show, yet I have struggled because I have not known my place in them. I struggled for some time because the temptation for comparison was always in front of me, although I am aware that I am a partaker of Christ's divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and thus comparison is no longer who I am or in my nature in Christ. The amazing tribe that I am a part of overflows with apostles, prophets, teachers, etc., and thus going from such an unhealthy view of these gifts to a place where the goodness of God saturates them has been a process.
A process of unraveling the lies I had been taught and believed about these specific gifts.
A process of unpacking the lies that I had believed about myself and other ministers in regards to these gifts and how they operate.
A process of seeing the love, power and restoration of Jesus seep through every crevice of what I once thought to be my own gifts and calling.
It has been a beautiful journey to say the least. And I'd love to share this journey with you... in case you, like me until recently, have questioned the importance of YOUR OWN gifting in Christ. As long as we keep in mind that the gifts God gives us are for the equipping and building up of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and as long as we remain laid-down lovers and sons/daughters abiding in the Perfect Love of our Father, then we are already half-way there.
This is how we have discovered love’s reality: Jesus sacrificed his life for us. Because of this great love, we should be willing to lay down our lives for one another. - 1 John 3:16 (TPT)
This time last year, God began to speak to me about my gifts through our vegetable garden at the back of our property. My Dad lived with us at that stage, and anyone who knows him knows that he is a master gardener with a supernatural ability to grow tomatoes. This particular year was his proudest ever, as he grew what I liked to call "tomato trees" ranging up to 7.5 feet high (2.3 meters) with poles, wire and rope holding them up. The fruit was outstanding, and the tomato trees were producing so much fruit that we could barely keep up with it. Tomatoes were falling off the vines because there was so much fruit, and the trees had to be stabilized with poles so that they did not bend at the sheer weight of the tomatoes. It was a glorious harvest indeed!
One afternoon as I sat in the shade of these tomato trees, the Lord had me look at them and began to speak to me some very specific things about my Church and the wonderful network family we are connected to. While encouraging my heart regarding the future of our network, He opened my eyes to a little dragonfly that was flitting from branch to branch. I have always loved dragonflies and they have special meaning for me, so I took this little guy as simply a kiss from Heaven and almost slightly overlooked the creature.
I remember watching the dragonfly with delight but becoming frustrated as I spoke to the Lord about what He was showing me, because I had started believing the lie that I had no place in this movement that God has called my husband and I to be a part of. I felt somehow like I was the dragonfly in this picture, but I had no clear understanding of what that meant or looked like. If I am completely honest, I was more conflicted that I was (in my own mind) not a branch or a pole holding up the fruit, or even a wire that the tree could stretch out on. I was still believing lies about myself and my gifting, and had no idea just how important that dragonfly actually was!
I had forgotten to ask the Father what HIS plan was for me in this movement, and I had forgotten that it was no longer Mandy who lived but Christ living in me (Galatians 2:20). I had forgotten that these gifts in Ephesians were not gifts for the "superstar" Christians (nor did they make superstar Christians) - they were gifts given for the sole purpose of equipping the saints for the work of ministry. For a moment in time, I just forgot.
Have you ever just forgotten who you are? What I needed was to run to the lap of Jesus and allow Him to remind me. Abiding in Him is always the answer and will always bring clarity.
As for me, because I am innocent I will see your face until I see you for who you really are. Then I will awaken with your form and be fully satisfied, fulfilled in the revelation of your glory in me! - Psalm 17:15 (TPT)
These gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4 are certainly not the only gifts mentioned in the Bible! There are spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, and the grace gifts mentioned in Romans 12. Romans 12:6 says this: Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them... The truth is that these gifts build up the body of Christ, and we use them not to "show off" and find some misplaced value in ourselves. We have these gifts because our lives are laid down to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21). 2 Corinthians 4:5 says that we are your servant for Jesus' sake.
Sometimes it is so very easy to forget that we not only lay down our lives for Jesus, but also for one another. And in the midst of laying ourselves down, if we do not keep a deep love relationship with the Father as a priority over even utilizing our gifts, then our perspective skews and our hearts burn out. This is what the enemy hopes for!
Everything we do, everything we are, looks like Jesus. When it doesn't, it just means we need to run back to Him and receive from Him so that we can pour out as Him.
Fast forward a year. Through a series of events and a prophetic word over me, God reminds me of the dragonfly that I saw that day. For days I saw dragonflies in front of me, and as a studious teacher and prophet I was shocked that I had never researched dragonflies before! What I found out about them was absolutely encouraging and infused my heart with so much life. Listen to this!
Despite all the mystical, new-age and mythological stories that come up about dragonflies, current FACTS are that dragonflies are actually good for your garden. Besides being beautiful and co-existing with bees, they eat all of the "bad bugs" that harm your plants! Aphids, beetles, mosquitoes, etc. have no chance when a dragonfly is around. Gardeners and some farmers even purchase them or try to attract dragonflies because they are good for the fruit.
Dragonflies protect the fruit-bearing plants. When the aphids of discouragement come, they remove them. The beetles of hurt or weariness start to munch away at the roots, dragonflies swoop in and bring encouragement and remind the plant to keep growing. Dragonflies keep the garden strong, healthy and bearing good fruit.
Whether you are a dragonfly like me...or the plant that bears fruit....or the pole that holds up the plants or the wire that allows the vines to stretch out.....whatever your "gifting" may be, don't forget that you are so important to the ecosystem of the Kingdom. Healthy fruit could not exist without YOU. Maybe there are days when you feel like a pile of compost at the base of the plants themselves - even the compost has a glorious purpose to the harvest. And if you go back to the Father and get His heartbeat for you, you will soon find that "compost" is the farthest thing from how He really sees you and what you truly are! It may have a function, but it is most certainly not your identity.
So if you're like me and you've struggled with accepting your gifts or calling, you can relax in knowing that He has created you for something grand and every single one of us plays a role in the great harvest. Sometimes we need to sit back against the Father's chest and ask Him to reveal truth to us. He may even show you what your own dragonfly looks like!
Above all else though, we must never forget that we are His children BEFORE we are anything else. Comparison is not a friend to Holy Spirit, and often comes hand-in-hand with an orphan mentality. But who knows that we are not orphans but sons and daughters of the Living God!!! Someone asked my husband recently how he handles walking in all 5 of the gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4, and his answer was the loveliest and purest answer: "I'm first and foremost a SON before anything else, and that is what I focus on."
I'm a daughter before anything else. I gladly lay down my life for His glory. I lose my life that I may find it in Jesus alone. HE is the desire of my heart. And I'm so excited to spread my wings as a dragonfly in this next season!
Thanks Google for this lovely photo!
To read more about dragonflies you can check out these informative sites: