By Del Duduit
Who doesn’t love a good gift?
Just in case anyone wants to give me one, I will be celebrating my birthday in a few weeks – gift cards are always welcome. Let’s see, I like Longhorn, Olive Garden, Toro Loco and of course, Amazon!
Most of the time, when you receive a gift, it’s free for you to enjoy. There is no cost to you.
However, on a rare occasion, there might be one. I’ll address that later.
This is not the case when it comes to Tom’s gift of teaching my Sunday School class at Rubyville Community Church.
Teaching was Tom’s profession for about 35 years. He spent most of the time at Portsmouth High School where he instructed math and later became a guidance counselor and principal.
He has been my regular Sunday School teacher over the past year and delivers some truly inspiring lessons. I can tell he does not throw these together at the last moment. He takes his position seriously and spends about six or seven hours preparing for each class. It shows.
I appreciate his dedication to work and use the gift of teaching. He is aware the Lord expects him to demonstrate an effort and not take it for granted. He doesn’t just get up and hope God fills his mouth. Not at all. Tom studies and spends time in the Word and in prayer.
A song or a devotional book passage is usually where Tom finds his motivation for his 30 minutes or so of sharing with his class. I always leave amazed and highly impressed.
“I never want to give any fluff,” he told me. “I worry I don’t give enough meat.”
Don’t worry Tom, you normally provide a four-course meal when you teach. I always leave full.
I love the fact he takes it seriously and considers it a gift from God.
“As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” I Peter 4:10
We all have gifts. Some take longer to find. You just to have to pray and wait for the revelation or the opportunity.
Tom’s gift comes naturally, at least it seems that way to me. He brings such a unique approach to his lessons. He uses audience participation as well as handouts and visuals. There have been so many good ones lately. My favorite one from him is called STOP.
He challenged the class to STOP if you want to keep going ahead in your walk with God:
S – Serve people. Nothing else will make you bigger in God’s eyes than when you serve others with a humble heart. It can be at a food shelter or in the grocery store or by sending a card.
T – Trust in the Lord. Get into God’s word and learn to put your faith in Him. At times when it seems hope might be lost or you are at a breaking point, look to a higher power. You flip a light switch and trust the room will become bright. You cross a bridge and know it will get you to the other side. Trust God in all parts of your life — He knows what He is doing.
O – Obey. As parents, we expect our children to do what we tell them. The Lord wants the same from His own. Don’t argue or fight – just do what He tells you even when you have doubts. He didn’t ask you to understand, only to obey.
P – Praise. This is the best thing you can do. God wants to hear us give Him the credit for everything. When you are on your knees or when your arms are raised, it’s a wonderful feeling. No matter what you are going through, praise Him.
I like this one so much I am using it – with his permission – in an exciting project on which I am working. I especially enjoyed the ending when he told us all to start STOPping.
Tom’s favorite lesson is called “Praise God, It’s settled, I’m saved.” He described it as his personal testimony. “When it’s all over, I want everyone to know I’m saved and it’s been settled,” he said. “I just want people to know that.”
With his gift comes doubt and discouragement at times. For Tom, he feels a bit intimidated because the class has former teachers, preachers and even our pastor in attendance.
“I can’t teach those people anything,” he said humbly. “There are moments when I struggle and feel like giving up. But then my friends and wife and God reassure me I am doing what the Lord wants me to do.”
His wife Judy plays a big part in his lessons too. “Vanna” as he calls her, takes care of operating the Apple TV or playing the piano for a song if it calls for one. They make a great team and always deliver a fun and inspiring message.
Tom presents his gift each week, and I appreciate both of them.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17.
What is your gift? Do you have one?
I never thought I had one for many years. I desperately wanted one, and I struggled with God over what it could be. I doubted at times if I had any worth at all.
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My wife Angie sings and plays the piano beautifully. Both of my boys preach, and I’m so proud of them.
But what could I do? For years I wanted to do something productive and meaningful. I have since discovered my gift of writing and trying to minister through words. I have always enjoyed writing, and it never dawned on me to use it to glorify God. Believe me, I’m much better at typing than singing.
I have written for years. I was a sports writer and general news reporter many moons ago. I dabbled in some magazine writing here and there, but nothing serious.
Over the past several months, I have been blogging regularly and writing magazine features. I have been amazed how so many doors have opened up for me during this amazing journey. I love the publications which run my articles and know there are big opportunities on the horizon. Some of my blogs have reached more than one million people, and I was blessed to have one appear on the website of a new friend who is a news personality at Fox News. Now that is intimidating. Soon, I will have an article appear in a national publication which is also a bit daunting.
At times, just like Tom, I struggle. I ponder to myself, “Does anybody care? Does anybody even read?”
But then I have to remember I am not doing this for personal glory.
“I keep believing and trusting and surrounding myself with good people who care about me.”
My gift is unique I feel. God gave me the talent and an amazing opportunity, and I almost threw it away. I entertained ideas of rejecting His gift. For some reason, the forces of evil have painted a bullseye on my back. They keep telling me I have a huge debt to pay. The charge is something I racked up, but I know through God’s grace, my spiritual debt has been paid through the blood of Jesus Christ. I simply had to put the tab in His hands, and I am assured He will take care of me, and I will be just fine.
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I am thankful the debt for my sin also has “paid in full” stamped on the receipt. I am grateful for His forgiveness, and I keep believing and trusting and surrounding myself with good people who care about me. I have made some wonderful friends over the past year who also believe in me. That is an amazing feeling.
Then there are my church friends like Tom. We have known each other for many years, and I value our relationship. I appreciate the fact he takes time to read my posts and often comments.
Thank you for all you do, Tom, and when you get discouraged, look back on this blog and know I love your gift. Thanks for sharing it with me and our Sunday School class.
What is your gift? Do you use it to tell others about God’s saving grace?
No matter the difference, use your gift to glorify Christ. Tell me the talent God has given to you.