The Gift of Gathering


We sat around the campfire laughing. We had camped together every year at a festival and this year we tried to be a little more organized. I was in charge of organizing, but organizing isn’t my strength. We talked about next year, and I let them know I was aware that I should maybe not be in charge of the spread sheet anymore. I giggled and said the only skill I had was talking people into things.

A friend turned to me and said, “You are a gatherer Abby, that’s a beautiful skill.” I laughed it off in the moment, but a week later I was still thinking about it. I was a gatherer. I am a gatherer. That skill is beautiful.

“Soft skills” are the interpersonal skills you don’t put on a resume, but they are really really important to facilitating community. Who in your life remembers the birthdays? Who keeps track of the meal trains in your church? Who invites everyone out for drinks after work so you all remember everyone is a person? Who bakes for the office or brings snacks to moms group? (Almost always, that person is a woman.) How would we function without these people? Most of us wouldn’t be able to.

For years the world told me that my ability to invite and gather people around an idea, cause, or simply for dinner was silly. How in the world is gathering worth anything when it’s so hard for me to organize the people I can get to come? How is talking people into joining a good thing when I sometimes forget to email them my address? Do I need to work on my administrative abilities? Yes. But is being a gatherer silly? No way!

Here’s what the world wasn’t telling me: It’s really hard for some people to gather. That really is a gift. My ability to see people for who they are and invite them into a bigger story is a GIFT. It isn’t silly, it’s awesome. It feels easy to me, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. People need that skill. People need a gathererjust like I need an administrator. And there’s no such thing as a “soft skill,” just gifts we can lean into. We all devalue the gifts that come easy to us. But God doesn’t. God needs gatherers. That is why he made me like this.