What Is My SHAPE: H—Heart and A—Abilities

May 15, 2014

As a way of discerning God’s call upon my life after sitting on the bench through a bout of lung cancer, I am continuing an assessment of my SHAPE for ministry. In my last post I listed my S—spiritual gifts. Many assessments stop there, but God provides pointers to his call in other aspects of our lives, too. Two people with the same spiritual gift(s) can express their Christian discipleship in very different ways, because of how they are wired emotionally, in their personality, or through the experiences that have shaped them and developed their abilities. The Saddleback SHAPE model takes this diversity into account by observing not just spiritual gifts but also motivation, talents, temperament, and experience.

So the next step today is to think about H—Heart for ministry and A—Abilities that have developed over the years. What follows is my own assessment, but the hope is my readers are thinking about their own SHAPE as well!

Heart for Ministry. This assessment takes a look at what moves me or calls me to action. To whom do I find myself gravitating when looking for those God wants me to serve? The answer to this question is discovered by observing the dynamics of a ministry setting that is invigorating to me. With whom do I feel most energized and to whom do I feel I have the most to offer? What gets my heart beating faster in the name of the Lord?

I have a heart for people who are

• caught on the horns of a dilemma
• seeking to apply their Christian faith as a way of life
• decision-makers trying to be faithful as they work through tough choices
• mixed up or ignorant about the basic facts related to the Christian faith and worldview
• asking questions

These folks all need empathy, certainly, but they also need information and a way of interacting with that information in order to apply it to their situation. I love working with anyone in any context who comes with that basic curiosity and need to know. They tend to be adults (rather than children), but lately I have also been getting a charge out of high school and college age students I meet at church. They may think I’m a little old to be relevant to them, but if our conversation is around faith, the Bible, or even current movies, it seems we have plenty to talk about. I get very energized when given the privilege to come alongside someone (or a group) that is making a big decision.

Abilities. To be distinguished from spiritual gifts, this category involves those natural and acquired talents and skills that have developed in one’s lifetime. So here are some of mine:

• an above-average intellect and ability to learn new things and think logically
• an expressive and practiced singing voice
• an articulate speaking voice
• home arts: cooking, sewing, and offering hospitality
• ability to organize big tasks and the people to do them
• writing
• high “emotional intelligence”
• facility with group dynamics and social interactions
• breaking down the complex into understandable points

It may seem boastful to list abilities and talents, but the Scriptures describe humility not as disparagement of one’s abilities but as willingness to let God orchestrate their use for his glory. The Apostle Paul admonished the Roman disciples “. . . . not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3). Any trait can be used greatly by God, if submitted to his Lordship without strings attached. The first step in that direction is to know myself, so that I have a full grasp of what I am offering to the Lord as “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).

Next post: P—Personality Type

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2 Responses to “What Is My SHAPE: H—Heart and A—Abilities”


  1. You also have a gift for reflection, looking at and into yourself and seeking the truth. And some courage to tell it like it is. One of the aspects that draws me to you, friend.

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