“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others . . .” – 1 Peter 4:10
It was in December of 1997, approaching the Christmas holidays, when at the suggestion of one of the colleagues on our team we all decided to forego our usual tradition of buying gifts for each other and instead using those collective resources to help a family in our community who was in need. Within a week or two we had gathered quite a collection of food, clothing, toys, and household goods, enough to fill several vehicles. Then, late one day after work we caravanned – all of us together – to the home of the family we had identified.
One gentleman on our team dusted off a Santa costume that had long been tucked away in the back of his closet, arriving at the door of our adopted family all dressed up, to the great delight of the several small children in the family. Two among us happened to be fluent in Spanish bridging the communication gap between us and the non-English speaking family. Others contributed muscle strength, mechanical and technological skills. And all of us, without question, opened our hearts in ways we never had before.
Not surprising, we all went home that evening feeling good that we had helped someone. The surprise came in the difference it made in us as a team. We may have thought we were a good team before, but nothing like we were afterwards. As the long-time leader of our business unit, I began to notice how we worked together even better than before. The constituents we served noticed too how the quality of our service had improved. Then, remarkably – though this is perhaps a bit of a stretch to link it directly – our business performance literally boomed, not just in the short term, but for all the remaining years we were together. It was a win-win for everyone, the family in need, the performance of our team, service to our constituents, the profitability to our company, and ultimately our own compensation. It is also worth noting that in the years to follow adopting needy families became an annual tradition.
It is amazing what happens when we offer our special gifts to the service of others, whether putting on an unused costume, speaking another language, or other strengths and skills. It is exactly what the Apostle Peter was urging his readers. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace.”