FINDING YOUR SWEET SPOT
When I was growing up we had a field just down the street from our house. On that field my brother and I, along with our friends, played every sport imaginable. But the two sports we played most often were football and baseball. When we started playing baseball on this field we began hitting from the lower right hand side toward the street (we used a big tree that’s no longer there for our backstop). Eventually we had to move to the left side once we gained more power and started hitting the house just beyond the row of bushes. We then had to move from the left side once we started hitting the church building through the line of trees. The last place we could move to was all the way to the back of the field and hit toward the street. We eventually had to stop hitting that direction when the balls began soaring across the field, over the street, and started hitting the house across the street.
Even though I enjoyed playing pickup baseball with my friends, I only played two spring seasons of organized ball. I was never a great hitter, but I surprised myself by making the All-Star team in one of those seasons. I assume the reason I was selected was because I was a decent fielder (playing Second Base), and I drew a lot of walks on account of my size (and how small my strike zone must have been). So, my on-base percentage was probably pretty high. Add on top of that I had pretty good speed on the bases. No doubt I was a force to be reckoned with on the diamond 😉 But, as I said, my hitting was very poor. I generally had a hard time getting the ball out of the infield. Practically all of my hits were infield singles where I outran the throw to first. But there is one plate appearance from those two seasons of baseball that still remains etched in my mind. It was the only time I felt like I really connected with the ball. As I came to the plate, and took my stance the pitcher sent the ball my way. I reared back, swung with all my might and smashed the ball. Now, lest you think I hit a home run, it was not even close. But the ball went much further than I had ever hit it before. In fact, it made it all the way to the fence (quite an accomplishment for me). I ended up with a Triple.
But what I will never forget is the feeling of hitting the ball with the sweet spot of the bat. The sweet spot is a place where the bat generates the greatest power when it connects with the ball. It is not on the very end of the barrel, but usually a few inches from the end of the bat. If you have ever played baseball, you know what it feels like to hit the sweet spot. You probably know the feeling when you miss the sweet spot–even if it is just by a fraction of an inch. Other sports have similar sweet spots (whether it is soccer, tennis, volleyball etc.), but there is nothing connecting with a baseball.
In life, we have sweet spots as well. Your sweet spot is where the gifts God has given you and the things you enjoy doing the most intersect. Many times, the things we love to do are the things we are the best at. Frankly, I never loved baseball (even though I enjoyed it), because I really wasn’t all that great at it. But I found that I loved soccer, or in school I loved History because God had given me abilities in those arenas. Some of you are gifted artists and love art. Some of you are gifted musicians and love music. God has uniquely gifted us with talents, along with desires that we can use for His glory.
Just a couple weeks ago I began (in earnest) to work on the course material for some of the classes I will be teaching at Haven of Grace Seminary. I started to work on a course in Hermeneutics, Homiletics and Systematic Theology. Now, for some, working on course materials such as these would be drudgery, but for me, I found it difficult to contain my excitement as I poured over textbooks and began preparing my notes. This is my sweet spot. This is the intersection of where I believe God has gifted me most, and where my greatest desires lie.
If you are a child of God, the Holy Spirit has gifted you as well. I would encourage you to consider 1 Corinthians 12 which speaks of the variety of gifts given by the Spirit. But what is most important in that passage is the reason for which these gifts are given. God gives His children spiritual gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ (the Church – you can also find this in Ephesians 4:11-13). Our gifts are not meant to simply benefit ourselves, but are to be put to use for the profit of all (1 Cor 12:7). It is helpful to take inventory of our spiritual gifts and ask ourselves the following questions:
- What talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts has God given me?
- What talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts do those closest to me see? (It is good to gain an outside perspective of what others see in your life, so maybe ask a spouse, parent, child, friend etc.)
- What kind of activities am I most excited about? What types of ministries make me feel most alive?
- How am I presently using the talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts God has given me for the benefit of His Body (the Church)?
- What are (new) ways I can begin utilizing my talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts for the benefit of His Body (the Church)?
As we ask ourselves these questions, and begin exercising the gifts God has given us, we can narrow in on our “sweet spot” of ministry. There is nothing better than to see the gifts God has given you and the desires of your heart meet together in joyful, fruitful service to the Lord.