On Tuesday morning, my friend and I gathered on Zoom to pray as a small group of us gather each week. On this particular Tuesday, there were only two of us, and God was guiding our conversation. My friend was telling me about the weekly class she has been attending, taught by Roddy and Andrew White on When Helping Hurts. She was telling me about a recent discussion about helping people to discover their assets rather than their needs. As we talked, thought, questioned, wondered, each of us was touched and excited about what God was showing us. I’d like to share with you what I saw from our conversation.
We know from Genesis that every person is created in the image of God… every human being bears the mark of God. We know from Psalm 139 that each one of us was knit together in our mother’s womb. We know that God was present and active in that process. Whether or not we have believed on the redeeming work of Christ, we still carry the image of God. This is why even someone who does not know God can create beautiful gardens or music or art. They carry the image of God within them and even express it unknowingly.
So what is an asset? It is an advantage or resource; an item of value owned; something useful in an effort to foil or defeat an enemy. God has knit one or many assets into each of us as we are created. Just as God created all the creatures and all of the earth with tremendous variety, so, too, has He created human beings to be unique in a multitude of ways. Some assets can be expressed in huge extravagant ways while others can be expressed more quietly. Neither is more or less than the other.
As I’ve thought more about the assets that God has given to each of us, I’ve come to realize that no one is left out. We have put so many labels on people because of the unique way God has knit them together, we’ve almost lost sight of the magnificent work that God has done in each of us. We use labels such as “autistic” or “prodigy” or “handicapped” to group people with unusual assets into different categories. One example of someone particularly unique is Temple Grandin. Her story is fascinating!
Temple was born in 1947 and experienced a difficult young life as she was unable to connect well with the world and people around her because of extreme autism. Here are a few comments about her:
American scientist and industrial designer whose own experience with autism funded her professional work in creating systems to counter stress in certain human and animal populations…Britannica.com
Livestock handling designer, autism activist. Through groundbreaking research and the lens of her own autism, Temple Grandin brings startling insight into two worlds…TED.com
The Temple Grandin School saved our son. He is thriving and excelling in a welcoming community of students and teachers that support differences, champion strengths and support the deficits with an air of “deficits are merely areas waiting to be explored for hidden strengths.”TempleGrandinSchool.org
What purpose does God accomplish in knitting various assets into our being?
When God called out Abram in Genesis 12, He told him that “He would make of him a great nation, and I will bless you [abundantly], and make your name great (exalted, distinguished); And you shall be a blessing [a source of great good to others]. In Matthew 5, as Jesus was beginning to teach about kingdom living, He told the gathered disciples, “You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men, in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.
The first purpose is that God uses our assets to bless those around us. Isn’t it strange that one meaning of ‘asset’ is something useful in an effort to foil or defeat an enemy? How like God to give us assets to push back the darkness, to build instead of tear down, to lift up instead of oppress!
What are your assets? Ask God to show you what He made you to do and who He made you to be? What do you do that gives you a sense of joy and fulfillment? Talk to people in your life group and explore together what your individual assets are. Assets can be a unique way of thinking, seeing or creating beauty, leading a group of people well, gardening, painting, know how to use money well, compassion, music, writing, welcoming, encouraging. The list can be endless.
Next week, I would like to think with you about how we grow together in community as we recognize, accept, and encourage the assets that each of us bring.
When you get a sense of what assets God has knit together in you, please share here with us. I’d love to know how God is working in our midst!