Inspiring Okeechobee: Duncan Gregg you inspire me!

OKEECHOBEE — You know how it’s cute to watch children? We watch them as we beam with pride at their piano recital, a dance, a school play, an awards ceremony, or a sporting event. Our children just seem to do that to us. I think we see them as an extension of ourselves — our living legacy that we get to enjoy.

Duncan Gregg

This past Sunday was one of those moments for me. I was preparing to watch my son and grandson as they participated in our youth service at church. Some part of me is happy to have youth service, because my sinful nature comes out knowing that I get to enjoy a “short service” that week. The other part of me, is the mom-side where I have sent the kids in with brushed hair and nicely dressed. If you know my life right now, that doesn’t always happen, like just the other day when our granddaughter left for school in her Shimmer or Shine costume (I don’t really know which one, but she is sure to correct me).

So onto the service. We have a new family at our church, whom I met in our pumpkin patch this past October. The parents and their two children have become quick church family members — mom, dad, son and daughter.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Duncan, their eldest is 18 and has autism. He was the most senior of the youth and would be delivering the message. I actually prayed for him and his parents all morning, that he would be able to deliver the message and not stumble or be embarrassed.

Boy did he sure teach me a lesson. I have provided his sermon for you below:

Encouragement

Romans 12: 6-8 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 If it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Who is Duncan Gregg?

Prophesy? I really don’t understand this yet. Unless this has something to do with my fantasy books I don’t think this gift is one that I was given.

Serve? I’m kind of good at serving others. It is part of my nature to help out when I can.
Teaching? There are a few things I can teach, but I don’t think this is one of my gifts. My sister usually gets mad at me when I try to teach her things.

Giver? This is a hard thing to do, to give generously, but it could be one of my gifts. When I see others in need I like to help them however I can.

Leader? I don’t think this is me. I am much happier being told what to do next than to lead others. Sometimes I don’t understand things the same way as others, so getting others to understand me is tough — another reason I do not think being a teacher is one of my gifts.

Mercy? This one comes more naturally for me. Mom says I can forgive anyone, anything. Maybe this is because I am autistic and I have a hard time seeing the motives behind other’s actions.

Encouragement? I have been on the receiving and giving end of this. When I was little, I had a hard time with many things. I could not remember anyone’s names, so they were all “friend.” My mom and dad encouraged me. They worked with me every day to learn just a few names at first, then more and more. I still have a hard time, but it isn’t as bad as it used to be. I like to encourage others who, like me, have a hard time with things. I have learned that sometimes it is just a kind word that makes all the difference. It doesn’t have to be a perfect job to be the best job that someone is able to do. I couldn’t remember my classmate’s name, but mom and dad were proud and encouraged me when I could remember just one.

Encouragement to me means that you need to not just cheer someone up, but help them push through their challenges and learn to help themselves. You don’t have to physically do the job for someone else, just help them realize the tools they have to adapt and find their own way. It may not be the way you would have done it, but if they accomplish the same outcome, then it is an outcome they achieved on their own. They will feel better about themselves and find that the next task is easier.

Everyone is given a different set of gifts that make them unique. It is our job as Christians to use our gifts to help people find these gifts in themselves and thus bring them closer to God. I think I am good at several of the things listed, but not at others. I encourage you to look at yourselves and examine your gifts. Are you using them in a way that would make God proud? If you aren’t, why not?

This message hit me straight in the heart. Am I using my talents to the best of my ability? Am I an encourager? Leader? Teacher? I admit I came back for the second service to hear these words again. While I was there to again show my pride and beaming smile for my kids, I swelled with pride for Duncan, who persisted and is an encourager. Duncan Gregg, you inspired me!

Leah Suarez is a freelance writer.

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