When I was in preschool one of the songs we sang regularly was “This Little Light of Mine.” I can remember getting a kick out of holding my little finger (I mean, my candle) as high as I could and waving it back and forth as I sang, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”
Our teachers encouraged us to sing it loud and proud at the top of our little lungs— especially when we got to the part about hiding it under a bushel.
“Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”
It was so easy to sing that song and to sing it confidently. Deep within my little four-year-old heart I truly believed that whatever within me that was good, and fun, and that I liked I should shine bright in the world. I also believed that others would support that fully, because why would anyone want others to hide their light under a bushel? After all, that would be silly, right?
But as I grew older, the confidence of that song began to fade in me. Many different messages bombarded me and sold me the lie that, for one reason or another, I was not enough. My gifts, my experiences, my knowledge, my (fill in the blank) were not enough. I was not enough. In many ways, I began to hide my light under a bushel.
Light has a way of breaking through even the smallest cracks, though. And as I continued to pursue God and follow my calling, the light of my gifts would shine out from under that little bushel basket. Inevitably someone would see it and encourage me. Each word of support or acknowledgement of my gifts gave me the confidence I needed to lift that basket just a little higher, letting a bit more light shine out.
I’m now at a place in my life where I am learning not only to embrace the gifts I have, but to cultivate and share my gifts in an intentional way with others. God is teaching me that He created me and designed me to partner with Him in building His kingdom. There is something beautiful I bring to the table that no one else can. I am the only me in this world. I am significant. If I keep myself all to myself, I will feel pent up and frustrated, and—as astonishing as this is to me—someone else’s life will be lacking because I failed to show up.
I think we can all name at least ONE person who has made a significant impact on us. Go ahead. Think about the people who have influenced you in a significant way for good. These may be people you know or people you don’t know. This could be a favorite musician whose music has inspired you, or an author whose writing has impacted you. Now ask yourself, “Who would I be if they hadn’t shared who they were? Who would I be if they hadn’t chosen to show up and share their gifts? In what ways would I be less if they had kept their gifts to themselves?”
Now, consider this. What might you have that someone else needs?
What gifts? What passions? What abilities do you possess that make this world more beautiful?
Go ahead. Make a list. Write some things down. Make it concrete and acknowledge what you bring to the table.
Are you feeling a little anxious about this? Are you beginning to second-guess yourself? Has your mind ventured off into the territory of comparing yourself to others? If so, let me lovingly re-direct you.
Comparing yourself to others and their gifts will only hold you back. The gifts of others should not be a reason for you to feel intimidated about cultivating and sharing yours. They should be an inspiration to you of what is possible. Let the gifts of others encourage you, mold you, sharpen you. As the proverb says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
When you find yourself stuck in the comparison trap, please remember that someone needs you to share your gifts and passions. You have no idea the type of impact your life can make in the life of someone else.
And while we’re on the topic of impact, let’s also remember this:
It’s okay not to know the impact you are making. Our job isn’t to make sure there is impact. Our job is to be obedient and share—to put our gifts out there—to follow Christ and take each next step as He directs us. The Holy Spirit is in charge of the impact our lives make in the world.
So I wonder. What would you share if you had no fear about sharing?
What would you create?
What would you do?
Based on your loves, your passions, your knowledge, your gifts, your talents, your experiences, what would you do if you took fear out of the equation?
Would you foster a child?
Would you paint?
Would you open a business, run for office, write a book?
Would you start a support group?
What would YOU do? Who cares if there is something similar already being done. It hasn’t been done by you yet in the unique way only you can do it.
If any of this resonates with you, if fear and comparison and insecurity about who you are have held you back from cultivating and sharing your gifts, please receive this word of encouragement:
There is enough room in this world for you.
There is enough room for your unique self. There is enough room for your talents and gifts and passions. No one else can be you or do what you do, so please share your gifts with us.
I promise you, we need you.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16