All of us have some “my things” and some “not my thing’s”. We all have stuff that in the Christian faith we call “gifts” – areas where the Holy Spirit has given us an extra oomph. Call it spiritual special sauce.

Hospitality, communication, encouragement. Those might be my things.

Counseling is not my thing. At. All.

In our family we like to say that somehow not one of us got the mercy gene.

Flat tire? So sorry. Buck up and carry on soldier.

Dog died? Sucks to be you.

Flunked a test? Your problems are so real.

Ok, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but almost.

The thing is, even if something is not our thing, Jesus still wants us to step up. We may not major in the areas of our weakness. We may call in folks who do have that thing for the heavy lifting, but we’re still called to learn and grow.

When someone comes to me with a problem, I can’t just say, “So Sorry. That requires mercy and counseling. Not my gift! Buh-bye now.”

We may not all be Mother Theresa, but our Jesus says mercy is always called for. Mercy isn’t just for people who think it’s “their thing”.

So I try really hard to pay attention. I have so much to learn from people who have the gifts that I don’t.

And God has a way of coaching us in the areas where we want to say “Not my thing!” 

I became a little more compassionate when God allowed me to experience deep pain, and loss.

I became a little bit better listener when God sent others to listen long to me, absorbing my tears.

But I still don’t have the gift of counseling (or administration, or helps, or wisdom, or…)

I wrote recently that John and I spoke on baggage in relationships and it seemed to strike a chord with a lot of hurting people. There was a lot of heavy baggage that they wanted to share with me.


As people poured their hearts out I wanted to yell “9ll! Where is Rich Phenow (the most gifted counseling pastor I know)??!”

But here’s the deal…In those moments that aren’t your thing, you do what you can, and you get help.

I’m learning how to listen deeply. I’m learning how to be present to God and the other in the moment. I’m learning how to validate the experience of others and affirm their good choices, so that’s what I try to do.

But then I say, “You are facing huge challenges that I can’t begin to totally understand. I have some friends who are really kind and brilliant at untangling stuff like this. They have the gift of counseling. They would love to help if you’re open to that.”

That’s why Jesus gave us to each other. Together we’ve got our things and not our things covered.

Which means together we can do hard things.

What’s not your thing? What is God teaching you in that area?