When Feet Want to Be Hands

chels-feet.JPGTwo Sundays ago I had the privilege of preaching at my home church, Covenant Life. We’re in the middle of a series on 1 Corinthians and I spoke from 1 Cor. 12:12-31. Paul has been answering the Corinthians’ questions about who is “really” spiritual. They were under the mistaken assumption that certain gifts, like tongues, were a sign of true spirituality. Their attitude was dividing the church – the exact opposite of the unity the Spirit wants to bring. Paul presses his point home by using the analogy of the human body.

In preparing for the message, I did a little research on the body and learned some amazing facts. Our liver performs over 500 functions. I’m not sure I can name one. Our ears can identify hundreds of thousands of different sounds. Our heart beats about 100,000 times a day without our even thinking about it. The big toe is actually one of the most important parts of our body, balancing our skeleton and enabling us to move forward. Without it, we’d simply fall over.

Often, the parts of our bodies we give the least thought to are among the most important. Paul probably didn’t have all these details, but he obviously had this in mind when he wrote this passage. Rather than exalting our gifts or minimizing them, God wants us to see that our unity in Christ is strengthened and displayed as we appreciate God’s differing gifts.

This truth definitely applies to musicians, who often compare their gifts to those those they see in others, and wind up in self-pity or self-exaltation. Paul addresses both attitudes.

He says, “If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body” (1 Cor. 12:15). It’s easy to see why a foot might envy a hand. A foot is always walked on, gets dirty, is almost always covered up, and usually stinks. Hands, on the other hand (no pun intended), are involved in everything important. They can build things, play instruments, catch a ball, and comfort a friend. When someone comes up to greet you, you don’t extend your foot. You stretch out your hand. It’s also easy to see why someone who has a “hand gift” might begin to think that their gifts are the most special, needed, and God-honoring.

But if the church is the body of Christ, we need all the parts, and they aren’t all going to look the same. Every part is needed by the others, and every part is dependent on the others. Without our feet, our hands wouldn’t get very far. But who wants a body that’s just feet?

Over the years, as I’ve held music interviews, I’ve encountered a few “eyes” who didn’t see their need for “hands” (1 Cor. 12:21). But more often, I’ve met feet who wished they were hands, and ears who wished they were eyes (1 Cor. 12:16). Choir vocalists that wanted to be soloists. Small group guitarists who wanted to be Sunday morning instrumentalists. Non-rhythmical musicians who wanted to be drummers. Non-musicians who wanted to be on the team.

Leaders can have a hard time telling someone they can’t serve in the way they want to serve. But we shouldn’t hesitate to help someone know what part of the body they actually are. If someone isn’t a hand or an eye, God has made sure they’re some other part of the body. The Spirit apportions gifts to each one as he wills (1 Cor. 12:21).

That doesn’t mean people can’t grow in their gifts, or that they can’t serve in a position until someone else more gifted comes along. But as a leader I want to do everything I can to help people identify where God has gifted them so the whole body will be built up and better served.

I also want to be content to be the body part God has made me, and recognize my need for the other gifts. If I’m more gifted to sing than to preach, I shouldn’t talk for five minutes between every song. If I don’t have a gift of administration, I should ask someone to help bring organization to the team. If I’m not the most creative musician, I should make sure there’s room for others to contribute their ideas. Even if I AM the most creative musician, I still need the gifts God has given others.

When the parts of a body don’t work together, it breeds chaos, confusion, and fruitlessness. But when each one of us is doing what we’re gifted to do, with the grace God has given us, the entire church benefits, we’re happier, and God is glorified.

So if you or someone you know feels like your gift is being the big toe, just remember you might be keeping the whole body from falling over.

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13 Responses to When Feet Want to Be Hands

  1. ckauflin September 26, 2007 at 10:02 AM #

    YES!!! my feet made your blog!

  2. Chris Anderson September 26, 2007 at 1:17 PM #

    Thanks for this, Bob. Very good.

    And I’m sincerely relieved to read that those aren’t your feet.

  3. Jadie Stiven September 27, 2007 at 2:57 PM #

    Bob… Thank you. I have heard this analogy many times – but never in the context of leading worship and the team we lead… and also how it then fits in with the wider body (church).

    It has been helpful. I was going to ask how we can begin to talk someone through the fact that actually their gifting may not be in music or singing (etc), but his has brought some areas to my attention. We can remind them that they ARE apart of the body, and perhaps identify for them the place where they are truly functioning as a part of the body. this will encourage them that although we may be guiding them away from one area of service – we are able lead them to where they will honor God most effectively.

    It is very tricky, however. I find it hard to tell someone that actually you are not ‘good enough’, for Sunday morning… and that actually it would be better if they served elsewhere in the church.

    Have you got any other ideas or examples of how you can be kind, considerate… and yet plainly truthful in breaking the news to someone??

    It is a shame. I have met some people who clearly feel, they have not found a place to serve in the church. And yet I look at their lives and see that they are wonderful men/women of God, who regularly attend church and encourage the church with their serving in putting out chairs, welcoming, doing teas and coffee, singing with passion, and on.

    I feel that many, perhaps have put their goal to serve ‘upfront’ as the only way to serve. I pray that God would reveal to them just how valuable their humble service to the church is.

    Even ‘simply’ being that godly parent, wife/husband, child, student in the church family and getting along side others…. is such a valuable of the church. It is really at that level where the rubber hits the road that we really need faithful members of the body… not imply the leaders – you know?

    Anyway – thank again for some insightful, godly thoughts.

    In Him whose boundless love, conquers our boundless sin.


  4. Bob Kauflin September 27, 2007 at 3:28 PM #


    Thanks for stopping by. You asked about ways we can be truthful with people about their gifts, but still be kind and considerate.

    Finding your place to serve and use your gifts takes humility. You need to be willing to hear that you’re not gifted to serve in a particular way. You also need to be willing to serve in ways that you don’t feel particularly “gifted” in, simply because there’s a need. And once you’re serving with your gifts, it takes Gospel-embracing humility to give all the glory to God for any fruitfulness.

    When telling someone that music isn’t their gift, I thank them for their desire to serve the church and encourage whatever I can. Then I try to help them see that there are others in the church who are more gifted to serve musically, and that we want everyone serving where they’re most gifted. I emphasize that it’s not a matter of value but of faithfulness. I generally don’t challenge them about their motives because I’m not sure what they are.

    Part of the effectiveness of being truthful has to do with the culture of your church or team. If people are used to hearing truth from people who love them, it will be easier for them to hear it from you. I’ve known leaders, though, who are in churches that don’t practice or teach much on speaking the truth in love. In those cases, it doesn’t matter how gracious you are, people can still tend to take offense.

    Hope that’s helpful.

  5. alex mclean October 1, 2007 at 5:17 PM #

    What a great encouragement for those of us who are having to make the hard calls. I loved it and am forwarding it on!

  6. Jadie Stiven October 13, 2007 at 6:16 PM #

    Thanks Bob!

  7. sm October 21, 2007 at 11:07 PM #

    Hi Bob, your writings have helped a drained and discouraged cg guitarist pushed by well-meaning friends to be a service musician. You can imagine the turn-out. It was totally unfullfilling man… ok… i shall go and fix my life now…

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  9. Guillermina December 17, 2008 at 1:39 PM #


    In my humble opinion, what matters is not the talent, but the spirit within. You are not born to be a preacher, but your passion towards the word of God makes you preach. I’ve seen people that before finding Jesus in their lives, nobody would never ask them for an opinion, and after they start testifying of the power of God in their lives, people will listen to every word with attention.

    Some may not be great musician, but since they learn to worship God, they can make better use of their voices and instruments. You are not looking for musicians, you are looking for worshippers who can handle their voices and instruments.

    You are not looking for a secretary, but rather one that fears the Lord, and believes on taking great care of everything that belongs to him. She will know to read and write and the leader will encourage her to learn to type, maybe to learn a second language. Who knows? The point I am trying to bring is that God is the one who puts the desire and the ability to do things.

    I don’t see as a good practice to discourage anyone to do whatever they want to do for the glory of God. But as a leader, the leader should put order. Someone who wants to do anything. this person should be willing to learn and give priority to those who can do it better.

    Everything should be done for the glory of God in unity and in peace.

  10. frankie October 12, 2012 at 10:30 PM #

    Great articles!

    How would you minister to praise team of about 7 who don’t sing well and don’t seem to have time to rehearse?
    Every rehearsal we have 3 possibly 4 attendees (2 regulars). This makes learning anything a challenge. I have been with the church for close to 5 years and in that time the team hasn’t done any new songs – they sing the same 4 or 5 songs even though they have a list of 20 or so. I just started working with the team. Any insight?

    • Bob Kauflin October 13, 2012 at 4:38 PM #

      Frankie, thanks for commenting. I think I’d start by asking God to help you serve the church more effectively through the gifts he’s placed in your church. Then I’d get everyone together and let them know that you’d like to start teaching some new songs. Seems to me that no new songs in 5 years is closing yourself off to the wealth of enriching hymns and songs that are out there and that God can use to encourage the church. Then I’d probably have at least one rehearsal a month to learn 2-3 new songs. Over time they’ll begin to be part of the culture. You might also have to let people know that you’d like to raise the bar for involvement on the team. I’d rather serve with fewer people who are willing to rehearse than try to include more people who don’t rehearse. Is that helpful?

  11. frankie October 14, 2012 at 2:13 PM #

    Yes thank you very much!


  1. No Compromise Ministries » Blog Archive » When feet want to be hands… - January 4, 2008

    […] Great Post by Bob Kauflin on giftedness in the church. Check it out here. […]

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