I have a collection of pottery mugs.  I LOVE my pottery mugs.  They’re weighty, beautiful, colorful, all completely different from the other, and I could tell you exactly where I found each one of them.  I’ll never forget the time I was in a pottery store in the Outer Banks looking for another mug of beauty to add to my collection.  I searched and searched, but none of the mugs there were calling to me.  In fact, they were all kind of ugly, and the best one I could find was not one that would “fit in” to my collection at all.  Nevertheless, I picked up this “ugly mug” and started to look at it a little more closely.

It was uneven.

Its color was not one I would have picked.

It was too small for the amount of coffee I like to drink.

Its rim was rough which wouldn’t feel great while drinking from it.

The handle was too small to hold well.

And the base of it…well it was just ugly!

As I stood in that store holding my ugly mug, wondering if I was actually going to buy this thing, the owner came over and started to tell me about it.  To be honest, at first I wasn’t interested at all as he explained that he used sea shells to add the less than perfect decoration to it, and how he took it off the pottery wheel a little earlier than his other mugs thus causing its uneven shape.  But then he said something that stopped me dead in my tracks.  He said, “Ya know, I didn’t add any color to that mug.  I let the fire give it its color and texture.”

Shut up and take my money.

He let the fire give it its color and texture… All at once it hit me, isn’t that true of us too?  We all walk through fires in our lives that may not be pleasant and may actually be downright ugly, but they’re what make up the very fiber of who we are.  They’re our stories.

Needless to say, I handed over the money and the “Ugly Mug” is now a part of my collection.  We all have a story to tell, some pleasant, some horrific, but it’s what we choose to do with those stories that make up the life we end up living.  God wants to use your story, the good the bad and the ugly, but you have to first be willing to be real about it with others.  Some of you have life experiences that uniquely equip you to serve others in a way that only someone who’s been there can.

So what story of yours does God want to use?  What have you been through that could help bring healing and hope to others going through something similar?  How can you begin to serve others in those areas that you are uniquely equipped to serve?

The shortest distance between two people is a story.  Choose to be real with yours, and watch what God can do.


Group Discussion Questions

Conversation Starter
Share about a time you saw someone in a new context and it changed the way you think about them.

Question 1:
What do you think is the connection between investing in others and growing in your faith?  Why do you think God set it up that way?

Question 2:
How could serving others change people’s perceptions of Christians and the church?

Question 3:
What kinds of things keep us from serving others?

Question 4:
What is something you’ve experienced that would uniquely equip you to serve others?

Question 5:
What story is God prompting you to be real about with others?

Prayer Focus
Ask God to give you the boldness to be able to be real about your story and allow Him to use it to help others.  Pray that God would guide and direct your group to a particular serve opportunity that you could do together.  Ask God to open your eyes to the needs around you and move in your heart to help meet those needs.