Scripture tells us to make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:16), to do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and to use our talents. While we know the “parable of the talents” is about money rather than skills, the principle applies to all that God has given us, including our abilities (Matthew 25:14-30). It’s pretty easy to figure out how a talent for public speaking or for teaching can be used for the kingdom, but what about crafty skills like knitting, cake decorating, scrapbooking, cross stitching, etc.? I propose that these skills, just like teaching skills, can and should be used to God’s glory. But how? Here are some ideas… and then a challenge.
Give gifts Giving beautiful (or even flawed, but filled-with-love) gifts is a wonderful way to use your crafty skills. I have a purple blanket hanging on the back of a chair in my front room. A sweet young sister asked my favorite color and a few months later, handed me that beautiful crocheted blanket… just because. It’s a snuggle that comes from zero obligation and 100% love. A kind friend knew I was struggling with a big decision and she, too, asked for my favorite color plus the dimensions of my Bible. In almost no time at all, a cute, funky, wonderful Bible cover came in the mail, dripping with encouragement and the assurance that I can do hard things to the glory of God. Last May, I was given the most adorable little knit dress by an elder’s wife in Colorado. As a knitter, I know the hours that went into the precious garment and whenever my daughter wears it, I nearly tear up with joy for the love in every stitch. When I was pregnant with my fifth kiddo, it was a rough start. I was sick all day long, as so many people are. A sister I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting kept up with me and checked in on me via Facebook through her own difficult pregnancy… and on top of that kindness, took the time to make me a really cute changing pad. It was a subtle invitation to remember that in the end of the sickness and discomfort, I had a baby to look forward to. More than that, it was a touch of love across the miles. Another gift I’m quite touched by is a very soft, very wonky, crocheted, pastel blanket. A friend and I got together several times and I tried to teach her to knit. When that didn’t work, we tried crochet. It still wasn’t clicking, but she went home and between YouTube and what I’d shown her, she figured it out. Her very first project was a baby blanket for my little girl. I could go on and on, but it would really start to sound like bragging (if it doesn’t already!). A handmade gift says loudly and clearly that the recipient is loved, and not just a little, but loved enough that someone took the time, spent the money, devoted their skills and made a gift. A handmade gift tells the recipient they’re not alone, that this marathon of the Christian life is run with sisters at their side, even when those sisters cannot be seen. A handmade gift shouts of the love of Christ spurring the recipient on.
Send goodies to a missionary. Obviously, this is just a variation on giving gifts, but it’s a really neat one. By definition, missionaries labor in fields where the church is little known and small in number. Sometimes our brethren in foreign countries are worshipping week in and week out with very few people, and it begins to feel like they’re all alone. But they’re not. We’re here, and they’re there, but through the blood of our Savior, we’re all part of the same body. A gift from you to them is a reminder of that. Your gift can encourage in a unique way. But I’m not just talking about sending the missionary a gift. Try sending things that the missionary can give to our brethren they’re trying to work with. Attach a note that says what you’re praying for on their behalf and send your package on with love, knowing that on the other end, there’s a stronger brother or sister for your efforts.
Teach someone else your craft. This just may be the best possible use of your skills. In teaching someone else how to (knit, make cards, decorate cakes, etc.), you have the chance to build a relationship and create common ground. Not only that, but teaching someone your skill is a gift that keeps on giving. What benefits do you derive from crafting? Those benefits are what you pass on when you give the gift of teaching someone. Knitters are fond of saying their hobby is their therapy, and it’s cheaper too. Clever, but also true. One of the reasons I love to knit is its gentle reminder, its physical representation of the truth that a little plus a little eventually equals a lot. Sometimes it’s the reminder I need when the going gets tough. When you’re knitting, you don’t take the whole project on at once. It’s one stitch at a time; you just do the next right stitch. In life, it’s one moment at a time; you just do the next right thing. I love that about knitting and I love it when I have a chance to pass that on. Admittedly, getting together to teach a friend how to knit doesn’t always result in another life long knitter, but even if you fail to pass on your skill, time spent in fellowship is an encouragement too.
Pray, learn, grow while crafting. Many crafts (like knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, etc.) offer an almost meditative opportunity to pray. I tend to knit while watching a TV show or movie. But sometimes I pray for someone or listen to a sermon or an audio Bible. When you pray, the blessings abound for you and for others. When you listen to a lesson, you grow. When you listen to the Bible, you ingest the word. Sounds like a good use of time to me!
Organize a get-together. We have a group we call “The CrafTea Gals” (we like crafting AND tea). We have knitters, crocheters, cake decorators, quilters, and more. We bring a project, and we sit, and we craft, and we talk, and we drink some tea, and we enjoy a sample of heavenly fellowship. Kids are underfoot and on laps and running around and it’s all a glorious mess that gives us cause to thank our God for the fellowship we have in Him and in skills given us. There are teenagers and older women and every age in between crafting up a storm. Even though we don’t get together terribly often, we stay in touch on Facebook and really enjoy getting to know each other. Your group can do charity projects, missionary projects, or any of a number of other good works. Or not. Simply gathering and laughing together is a blessing. Bonus: such a gathering provides a non-confrontational place to bring people who might otherwise have a hard time meeting people. People on the fringes, so to speak, may find it is just the kind of opportunity they need.
Meet people. There are often well-established gatherings for crafting people to get together. Ask around wherever you buy the materials for your craft. This can be a great chance to meet people and hopefully gain the chance to share the gospel. If There isn’t already an organized group, get one together. Try advertising at your local library, coffee shop, book store, or other gathering place. You may even offer to teach your craft.
What if you aren’t a crafty person? That’s okay. But do you want to learn a craft? Then ask someone who already does the thing you want to learn if they would be willing to teach you. Most of us crafty people love to show off… err… share our craft. Maybe you don’t know what you’d like to do. In that case, try searching for “DIY” or “craft” on Pinterest. Maybe you don’t know anyone who does what you’d like to learn. Chances are, there’s a YouTube video for that. There’s also Craftsy.com. Many hobby shops (like Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc.) offer various classes. And there’s always the library. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
So here’s the challenge I promised: if you’re crafty, find a way to use your talent before the month is up. God gave you an opportunity and you should be a good steward of it. So, pick one of the above, or find your own way… and tell us what you want to do in the comments:
What is your skill/ talent?
How will you use it to God’s glory?