This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Indiana State Debate Tournament as a judge. I did policy debate for four years in high school and love the event. It was hugely formative for me in terms of organizational, reasoning, and communication skills. I was very excited to be able to go and to share my experience and my gifts with the community of debaters.
It was a great weekend, but in many ways it was quite frustrating.
Through the entire tournament I only judged 2 policy rounds. The tournament committee was using a computer program to slot judges and experience and knowledge weren’t considered at all. I sat around before rounds and watched parents who had never seen a policy debate round and who knew nothing about the event get a crash course before going in to judge. I’m sure they did a fine job, but they were clearly uncomfortable about doing something they had never done before and there I sat, knowing that I had something to contribute, wishing that my gifts would be utilized.
And as I sat and pondered this over the weekend, a thought hit me. How often do people in churches feel like I felt at the tournament this weekend? How often do people who have skills for teaching, computers, landscaping, leading, etc., sit and watch others who are inexperienced get tossed into situations where they are uncomfortable because no one has taken the time to get to know the gifts of the people who surround them? I know that our church is (and that all churches are for that matter) full of talented and gifted people who have much to share. And I fear that often times we, as the church, don’t fully utilize the gifts that others bring.
I learned a valuable lesson this weekend and I hope to be more intentional about utilizing the gifts of others whenever I have the opportunity to do so.