Masters Plan

Go Therefore and Make Disciples


Our Relationship WIth Others


As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.                                                                                                                                         1 Peter 4:10

An elderly, never-married woman lived all alone in an old Victorian mansion that she had inherited.  When her declining health confined her to a wheelchair, she became severely depressed and almost never left her house.  In earlier years she had actively served at her local church; now she went only on Sundays.

When she hinted to a nephew that thoughts of suicide had begun running through her mind; the man contacted a psychiatrist friend of his, the late Milton Erickson, and asked him to look in on his aunt the next time he visited Milwaukee.  Erickson agreed and arranged to meet the woman at her home after he spoke at a conference.

The woman greeted Erickson at her door and took him on a tour of the dark mansion.  All the shades had been drawn, and except for some remodeling that made the place more wheelchair accessible, Erickson thought it looked largely unchanged from how it must have appeared in the 1890’s.  Finally the woman showed her visitor the only room in the house that seemed to harbor life; a greenhouse nursery where she grew African violets, her pride and joy.

As the two talked amicably, Erickson said something that both startled and upset the woman.  He noted admiringly her African violets and then said, “I don’t think you’re being a very good Christian.”

The woman took offense to his comment and insisted that she considered herself a very good Christian.

“Really?” Erickson replied, “Here you are with all this money and time on your hands, and a green thumb.  And it’s all going to waste.  Why don’t you get a copy of your church membership list and then look in the latest church bulletin?  You’ll find announcements of births, illnesses, graduations, engagements, and marriages in there—all the happy and sad events in the lives of people in the congregation.  Make a number of African violet cuttings and get them well-established.  Then place them in gift pots and hire your handyman to drive you to the homes of people who are affected by these happy and sad events.  Bring them a plant and your congratulations or condolences and comfort, whichever is appropriate to the situation.”  Then the psychiatrist left.

About twenty years later, Erickson received a newspaper clipping from The Milwaukee Journal headlined, “African Violet Queen Dies, Mourned by Thousands.”

                                             Dr. Greg Smalley, The Marriage You’ve Always Dreamed Of


We all are uniquely made, with special gifts and talents.  As Jesus described in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-29), He expects us to use them to their fullest potential.  So many people horde what they have, sometimes unknowingly because they have not asked God to open their eyes to the needs all around them.  What do we have in our lives that can be used to change the world and touch the people around us?   Are you living a life that is touching people with the love of Christ?  For the Violet Lady, the difference between being a bitter old woman who dies alone or one mourned by thousands was letting God use her time, treasure and talents.  There is no end to what He can do when we surrender it all to Him.


If God has called you, do not spend time looking over your shoulder to see who is following you.

                                             Corrie Ten Boom


  • Who would you see as a good example of someone using his or her gifts or talents to serve others and glorify God?  (From the Bible, history, or someone you know personally…)
  • What gifts and talents do you believe you have that God could use for His Kingdom?  How can you apply this to your life this week?
  • How will you apply the truths in this topic to your life this week?  Be specific.

Additional Quotes

            The danger is getting stuck in between the two, living your life in the neutral zone.  No real evil to speak about, but no great good to be proud of either.  This takes us beyond having nothing to be ashamed of to being ashamed if we do nothing.  It is rarely counted as evil when we live in neutral.  At worst a passive life is only pitied, yet God counts it as a tragedy when we choose to simply watch life rather than live it.  Jesus described as wicked the person who leaves his talent unused.  When we fail to choose, we choose to fail.  You cannot put your life on hold.  It moves forward with or without your approval.  Choosing not to choose does not put off the problem; it only exacerbates it.  I have a suspicion that there are far more sideliners than we could ever imagine.  People who look as if they’re in the game, but are really just watching from up close.  This is certainly true in the church.  Even our architecture betrays us.  The pews are set up for observation.  A couple of people do all the work, and everyone else watches.  It just occurred to me that the pews look and feel a lot like the benches I used to sit on during football season.  I guess that would make the balcony the bleachers.  In any case, our churches seem to be designed with the resignation that most of us are sideliners and only a few are the real participants.   Erwin McManus-Chasing Daylight

I am convinced there have been many times in my life when I experienced God's blessing and became God's instrument not because of my talent or capacity, but because of my willingness to be there.  There is a catalytic nature to moving with God  You might be surprised how many people would be willing to go with you if you would just lead the way.  Erwin McManus-Chasing Daylight

The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.   Frederick Buechner

God delights in using ordinary Christians who come to the end of themselves and choose to trust in his extraordinary provision.  He stands ready to allocate his power to all who are radically dependent on him and radically devoted to making much of him.                David Platt, Radical

verses related to this topic

  • Psalm 139:14

    Psalm 139:14

    I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.

  • Isaiah 49:15-16

    Isaiah 49:15-16

    Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.

  • Matthew 10:8

    Matthew 10:8

    “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”

  • Parable of the Talents

    Parable of the Talents

    Matthew 25:14-29

  • Romans 12:6-8

    Romans 12:6-8

    And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly; if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith. If service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

  • 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

    1 Corinthians 12:4-6

    Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.

  • 1 Timothy 4:12

    1 Timothy 4:12

    Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

  • 1 Timothy 4:14-16

    1 Timothy 4:14-16

    Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

  • 1 Peter 4:10-11

    1 Peter 4:10-11

    As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

books related to this topic

  • Wide Awake

    Wide Awake

    In Wide Awake, Erwin McManus opens readers’ eyes to see the eight crucial attributes of those who achieve the life of their dreams. It is every person’s responsibility to discover and develop the gifts given to them by God.

  • Holy Sweat

    Holy Sweat

    In Holy Sweat author Tim Hansel gives the ten keys to personal peak performance: start, vision, goals, courage, teamwork, excellence, the ability to fail, perseverance, joy, and giving it all away.

  • Chasing Daylight

    Chasing Daylight

    We all have dreams, hopes and aspirations. Why, then, do some of us realize our dreams and advance forward while others watch timidly from a distance and hope for a break? Author Edwin McManus reveals the direct relationship between passion and initiative. Chasing Daylight is a call to live life of blazing urgency. We have but one life.

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