Sometimes God hands us a spiritual “Key:” a sign or token of our mastery of a gift we have or a role we play in the Kingdom of God. For example, you might realize, as I did one day, that worship is your key to the throne room, and that when you praise Him you find breakthrough, peace, and renewal. Our strategies for the future come from this place, and our function within His Kingdom is often tied to this key. When we “turn the key” by using this gifting, others are mysteriously drawn to us, and enter into the Presence of God along with us.
It’s exciting to be given keys to the Kingdom. We look around and see that others have them, too: some more, some fewer. Each of us is created by God with gifts in certain areas that help edify us and the Body of Christ when used.
Unfortunately, our fascination with these keys often leads us into competition instead of collaboration. We get disgruntled that our pastor has three more keys than we do, or that a certain leader has more opportunities, fame, or recognition than we. “Why,” we ask, “do we have only one key when they get lots of them? It isn’t fair!”
When we begin comparing, we miss seeing the purpose of our key. We thought the key was ornamental, a beautiful trophy and testament to the fact that we have accomplished something great or reached a place of mastery. And we have. What we haven’t realized yet is that the key to our mastery is also the key to the shed!
Nobody Likes the Dirty Work!
The shed is the place where your tools are stored. It’s the hidden place where the nuts and bolts of ministry reside. It’s the dirty, dusty place where steel is sharpened and pieces put together in secret. Your gift is refined here, along with your character. There’s no fame or glory in a shed, and no one wants to visit you here, much less help you with your dirty work! But without the tools from the shed, ministry fails.
True builders in the Kingdom of God visit that shed daily. They pick up their tools in the morning, sharpen them at noon, and store them safely away at night. The rest of the day, they’re working with those tools (their gifts), doing the “dirty work” of the Kingdom. They’re sweating in the hot sun or toiling in the cold as they build what God calls them to build. They’re allowing God to mature them so that they will be considered faithful stewards of the keys (or talents) He’s given them. Most of the time, it doesn't feel like they're going from "glory to glory." It feels more like "mess to mess!"
A Real-Life Example
My husband, who is an electrician’s apprentice, came home one night, dirty and exhausted as usual. His alarm had woken him at 4:00 am for a 6:00 am start at work. He had left the house that day in a maroon-colored shirt. By the time he returned home for dinner, that shirt was a different color!
“What happened to your shirt?” I asked him curiously. There was a jagged white line across his shirt at chest-level that extended all the way up to his neck and shoulders. His hands were black with dirt and the dust settled around him like Pigpen as he sat down.
“That’s sweat,” he informed me. “It was so hot today that I soaked my shirt through with sweat, wrung it out, and then when it dried, it left patterns of salt-rings around my neck and chest!”
He had worked hard in heat, dirt and sweat, looked terrible, and smelled… well, I won’t tell you about the smell! But his customer’s living room was glorious now, a spotless chandelier giving radiant light to the whole room. Because he was willing to turn the key to his shed, pick up his tools (gifts), and do the "dirty work," he created something beautiful for his client’s house.
Become a Master Builder
Those who develop their gifts in the Kingdom of God do so for one purpose: to help build God’s house and strengthen His body. It doesn’t take long to realize that there are two types of people in the Body of Christ: spectators and builders.
Spectators have been given keys, too, but they spend their time criticizing those who are working, believing that they could do it better. They don’t contribute much and they rarely visit the shed to sharpen or even pick up their tools. In the end, they do more to tear down the work of the Kingdom than build it up.
Builders, on the other hand, are eager to collaborate. They seek out beneficial partnerships with those called to work in their area, and they help and support each others' projects even as they use their own gifts. No builder works alone if he can help it. There is safety and protection, support and power in our partnerships. (For more on this subject, click here.)
A Word from the Lord: Collaborate!
I believe the Lord is reminding us of the reasons He has given us gifts, or “keys,” in the first place. He is encouraging us to move beyond petty selfishness and competition so that we can BUILD and ADVANCE His Kingdom on the earth. As you read this word, ask the Lord to show you how you can partner with others to make God’s house a house of glory:
“Your primary collaboration in the work of My Kingdom is with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is your teacher, and you His apprentice. His goal is to make you a “Master Builder,” to know the details of your job and function so intimately that you in turn can teach others. The “building code” is the standard of Jesus Christ. Build according to His specifications and all will be well!
"As you move from a place of observing (a spectator) to a place of working (a builder on the team), you will be given the supplies you need and will see the people around you with whom you’re called to labor for this time. Look around you and see those who are called to work in the same area you are. These will be your partners and collaborators for a season, until the work there is done and you move on to a new section.
"Be willing to get dirty as you build My Kingdom. But not from the “dirt” of dissension, competition, or groveling. Let it be the “dirt” of your hard-earned effort to set things in their places, to carve out something of beauty, or to sweat a bit as you help another haul a heavy load.
"Endeavor to help your partners with their needs even as they invest in you, for while you will have separate responsibilities and purposes, your jobs will intermingle at times and your contributions are for the greater good of the house itself. All will benefit from your partnerships, not simply in form and function, but also in in beauty and aesthetic, for those who work together can “sync” their efforts to create a house that both looks and functions well.
The work is demanding, yet satisfying. The labor will tire you but fire you! And every hour invested counts toward your ultimate release as a Master of your trade.”
In a world that seems destined for destruction, you can choose to be a builder: a restorer of broken walls, like Nehemiah. If you’ve stored away your gifts and talents for a time, it's time to use your key to open the shed, pull out your tools again, and begin contributing to the work of the Kingdom. There’s plenty of room. The reward for the faithful ones who apply this word is that they will be entrusted with more keys to the Kingdom, until you, too, become Master Builders.
c. Deborah Perkins / HisInscriptions.com
Deborah Perkins is the founder of His Inscriptions and the author of How to Inherit Your Spiritual Promises: 5 Steps to Success and The 2016 Guide to Corporate Prayer. She lives in New England with her husband, three children, one cat and eight chickens. She blogs for Bible Gateway, Tyndale House Publishing, and BibleVerses.com. Join her daily here or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.