absurd conference

God Is Not Surprised By Your Gifts

Nov 20, 2020

“God is not surprised by your gifts.” 

Jo Saxton made this statement so matter-of-factly at the 2020 Bloom Retreat this past September. These words and her confidence in stating them covered my heart like a soothing balm. 

As she stated this Truth, I was sitting next to our one-month-old baby that we surprisingly found out last December would be joining our family in August. I was attending the conference to take a moment to rest from planning our church network’s conference on racial reconciliation and Kingdom diversity–another thing I never saw myself doing.

As church planting women, we find ourselves constantly surprised by our lives, don’t we? It seems like every season we are playing a role, filling a gap, discovering something about ourselves, stretching, and growing in ways that painfully surprise us. There is no end to the amount of surprises, both good and bad, that we encounter. But… 

“God is not surprised by your gifts.”

While we find ourselves stepping into new roles and developing new skills with all the grace of a baby deer learning to walk, God is cheering us on like a proud parent, confident in what we can do and knowing exactly what waits on the other side of our growth. What feels abrupt, shocking, and painful to us is of no surprise to him. When we are hiding behind situational comforts and masking our growth with self-deprecating humor, God is sitting there, patiently waiting for us to get comfortable with the leaders he is forming us into.

Although it may not seem like it at times, you are not called to fulfill someone else’s expectations. None of us are intended to live a life striving for the approval of those around us or competing with the person next to us. We are called to be obedient to Scripture, to the Word of God, not the words of critics. Our obedience is to Christ not keyboard warriors and angry emails.

As we enter into what is usually one of the busiest seasons in the Church world, I cannot help but wonder what further surprises 2020 holds for us. Will Christmas services feel as exhausting this year? Will we be able to gather as a church? With family? With friends? Will the decisions we make as leaders be good news or added stress to those following us as we try our best to follow Christ? Who are we going to let down by how we approach Christmas and Covid?

I have no idea. 

The dumpster fire of 2020 is as unpredictable as the sleep patterns of my newborn.

But, what I do know is this: God is not surprised. He’s not surprised by the happenings of this year. He is not surprised by the behaviors of our country. He is not surprised by the pains you are experiencing in your leadership. He is not surprised by the gifts developing within you as you press through this wilderness.

God is not surprised by who you are.

And, perhaps the most comforting news of all, God cares more about who you are than how productive you have been in 2020. God cares more about who you have become this year than what you have accomplished.

You didn’t write a book during quarantine? He doesn’t care.

You didn’t develop an inspiring at-home fitness routine? Not what he’s most concerned with.

You didn’t become the most aesthetically pleasing phygital church out there? Pretty sure he can still use you in the Kingdom.

Not a single one of us had the flawless 20/20 vision we ironically discussed last January. No one on Earth could have predicted this year. So, as we close it out, what if we put less focus on the forward movement of our churches and more emphasis on the inward transformation of our leadership postures?

God is not surprised. So, let’s allow the shock to wear off and start pursuing his leadership instead of making sense of things on our own.


Rachel Hunka is a speaker and writer, contributing content for Propel Women, Stadia Church Planting, and Bloom: Women in Church Planting. In her hometown of Canton, Ohio, she helped launch the ONE Center for Leadership, co-planted 3rd Street Community Church, and is the founder and director of the Absurd Conference. Rachel is a proud girl mom and is passionate about Kingdom diversity and reconciliation.