Thursday, January 31, 2008

On Spiritual Gifts......

Move over, politics. I have a little polling I'd like to conduct on my own. And I would so welcome the participation of all my readers and lurkers! :) We have been doing some serious thinking and talking along the lines of Spiritual Gifts recently. I do think it's a very important part of the Christian walk, and place within the Body. So my question for each of you is this:

ARE YOU AWARE OF WHICH SPIRITUAL GIFT(S) HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOU BY THE SPIRIT?

If your answer is yes, would you be comfortable sharing what your spiritual gift is, and how you use it, or endeavor to use it, to edify the body of Christ? I will join in that part of the discussion, too!

18 comments:

Jody J said...

My greatest (the highest score) gift is in hospitality. I LOVE sharing my home with people. This has been very interesting because Travis is very much of a loner. We both have had to compromise a little. I appreciate that he needs his space, but he realizes in the ministry that we need to be hospitable and he also realizes that's my gift. Before we figured all this out, I would just invite someone over off the cuff and I could tell he was putting on the breaks! :) So over the course of the years, I've learned to warn him at least and he deals with it much better - and even enjoys it. I guess you didn't ask for a commentary on marriage, but we do need to work together so that we can each be effective.
Of course, there are other ways of being hospitable - welcoming newcomers into the community or helping a mother who is stressed out etc.
This will be an interesting topic. Can't wait to read other's responses.

Anita said...

Tara, you always come up with something good to discuss.

This is something that's been on my mind lately also as I am now attending a church that puts a little more emphasis on Spiritual gifts then any church I've been in. This is something I need to learn more about and do an in depth Bible study on.

I believe my gifts would probably be in the department of encouragement and hospitality. There have also been times when I felt the gift to share specific scriptures and/or words that God had given me with certain individuals and it turned out to be something that helped them in a particular situation at that time.

All I know is that God is willing to use anyone who is willing and available...even a donkey. Jennifer Rees Lacombe mentions in her book 'Journey into God's Heart'- about a time in her life when she was asking to be used by God and she said she simply saw herself as a limp glove which God could fill. We must remember that God does not give these gifts to us because we are something special. As I mentioned before...God used a donkey to speak to someone. We need to realize that it's all about emptying every bit of ourselves out so that God can fill us and use us to bring glory to Him.

Leah said...

"Service" seems to be one of my strong points. I'm thankful that I was raised in a home and church which emphasized the importance of serving. When I think of people I have known who have been examples to me in their service to God and others, I realize there are even greater ways that I can improve upon sharing this gift.

I believe there are many people who have gifts lying "beneath the surface"- so to speak. With more of an awareness of the skills associated with their particular gifts, and by asking God to hone in on the qualities necessary to share these gifts effectively, can you imagine what a difference it would make in our churches and communities!

Leah said...

"strong points" were probably a poor choice of words. I should have said, "Service is my greatest gift."

Marty said...

I wish I could say Listening! I believe that mine is hospitality. I am working on the listening thing thou! I have read a few of your blogs, without comment. I'm with you girl!!! (on most things!!)

kayla said...

I haven't taken a test since we were in college. Back then my gift was hospitality, I'm sure that it still comes in pretty high on the list for me. I would like to take on again now that I have had a chance to mature in my Christian walk. Do you think it changes as we grow in Grace?
Maybe you could find a good link to a Spiritual Gifts test for us. Then we could really have some good discussion.

Tara said...

Thanks, ladies, for sharing your thoughts here! I have continued to think alot on this area in the last few days. We, along with the rest of our Pastoral staff, have been examining what affect it could have on our local congregation if we approached the ministries of the church from the viewpoint of Empowerment by the Spirit with the various gifts. In other words, step back...evaluate...and determine if those in places of leadership in various departments are actually GIFTED in those areas or would be better used elsewhere. Can turn a lot of things up on their heads when you start thinking that way!

I had taken a couple of gifts tests back in college, as well. And a few times since then, the most recent being within the last couple of weeks. My primary (highest scores) gifts had NOT changed. There were some other areas that had gained strength over the years. To respond to Kayla's point: I am no expert, by any stretch, but my inital reaction would be that a gift given to a specific believer would not be inclined to change, since it had been given to that believer for specific use. But I do think there may be a difference between a spiritual GIFT, and a trait or characteristic that can be developed. Marty mentioned "listening"...EXCELLENT trait! But I'm not sure it falls under spiritual gifts category! :)
My two primary gifts are Discernment and Exhortation (or Encouragement). After that comes Mercy, Hospitality, etc. These can be a little tricky for a woman to have, it seems. But I have learned more and more to pay attention to the gift of Discernment, in being a help-meet to my husband. In offering input during meetings of the Pastoral families, and goodness knows, in parenting! Exhortation or encouragment has been useful in the areas of small groups and Bible study.
My desire is to surrender myself and anything that I am to God's purpose for using and developing the Gifts He gave to me. If He gave them, then He alone knows best how we should use them.

Ephesians Four Ministries has a spiritual gifts test that you can take online. You can find it at www.churchgrowth.org

Keep it coming!

Anita said...

I enjoyed taking the Spiritual Gift Analysis quiz.

It appears my strong points are:

Showing Mercy
Shepherd
Evangelism
Exhortation

Things like administration and overseeing money are my week points.

Ladyluck said...

Good discussion. I took both the inventory you mentioned Tara and one from here http://www.kodachrome.org/spiritgift/index.htm
and got the same results. Teaching and wisdom/prophecy.

Here's something that bugs me... I do wish I had more mercy and hospitality... you know, the more "feminine" gifts. Especially mercy since it is also part of the fruit of the Spirit which we should all have. It's not that I don't care about your troubles, but I'm just real short on the whole hugs and love stuff. Now when you are ready to indentify the issue and get back on track, then I'm your girl.

So anyhow, what do you think? Can I blow it off and say "hey, it's just not my gift" or does it just mean that while it doesn't seem to come naturally, it's still an admirable quality and I should work at developing it?

~Heather~ said...

I just took the test. I know that my main gift and what I LOVE doing in life is hospitality...but that didn't really show up on this test. I showed up as Administration, Showing Mercy, Pastor/Shepherd. Not sure that the results were correct, but oh well. =)

Hoping all is well y'all's way.

Love, Heather

Kimberly said...

On this test, my 2 highest were 1) Showing mercy 2) teaching. That makes sense and is similiar to others I've taken.

Just a couple thoughts here: I think it's a great idea that we actually be involved in pursuits for which we are best suited (in church or anywhere else.)

I know these type of tests are more and less popular at different times. I have yet to see one that seems "Reliable" in the true sense of the word. I worry that the way of measuring is very open to manipulaiton either by the "taker" or whoever is in charge of the process. I also wonder about the whole idea of who puts who into whatever ministry or who is kept out due to a fairly sketchy method.

Like Jody, I wonder if perhaps we should seek to develop those gifts that are not "naturally" in our makeup. Also (as we've discussed off and on in blog world) I think it's pretty clear that all Christians are basically called to both similar tasks and attitudes. I wonder if trying to put ourselves in categories is a complication.

At the same time, the process of seeking to know ourselves and where we fit in God's Kingdom is always worthy and ALWAYS must be Spirit led. I have also learned that it is entirely possible to use different "gifts" at different times/places/seasons of life.

Amy said...

This was a really neat test! I was surprised to see that my highest score was for shepherding. Mercy was next.

I thought before taking the test the mercy would be tops.

Giving, Teaching, and Administration were all in third place.

Very interesting!

Tara said...

Kimberly: enjoyed your input here as always. Yes, I too am reluctant to jump on the "test analysis" bandwagon, which is why I didn't mention it in my original post. I think they can be helpful, but I don't think it's necessarily the gold standard for gift-determining. After all, when this issue was originally raised during NT times, I guess they had to rely on a clear direction from the Spirit Himself in knowing what their gifts were.
However, your comments bring something else altogether to mind, which has only been alluded to here in the discussion. Is your thinking that we are all to develop fruits of the Spirit, and that there aren't those SPECIFIC individually given gifts? That is an interesting thought. If maybe we have misunderstood or misconstrued what the scripture was saying. I guess I'm just wondering what the current-day application would be of the "gifts" issue.
I understand Jody's feeling of not necessarily having the "girlie" gifts! Doesn't mean that we don't show mercy and hospitality, though, yodee; just doesn't ring our bell the way our own strong points do. Given the things that you've shared about taking in your husband's nephew and reaching out to his friends, etc....that sure sounds like Mercy and Hospitality to me.
So what we seem to be saying is that we all have a responsibility to think, act, respond, and interact as CHRISTIANS, with the fruits of the Spirit, and a surrendering of our will to Christ's will......and question is still, beyond all of that, does each believer have a gift that is given to them for the express purpose of edifying the Body of Christ? Guess we'll have to dig in to the theology of this for an answer, or just hope that a Theologian stumbles upon our discussion and helps us out! :)
Thanks again, gals, for your thoughts. Enjoy hearing from each of you.

julie f said...

Our church, in the past few years, has put an empashis on spiritual gifts. We frequently have a class given by the name of "Network" (the book has the same title).

I can say that this has changed the structure of the church body. The choir director had to be willing for people to serve somewhere else; the children's pastor had to be willing to let people move on and wait for gaps to be filled...you get the idea. The emphasis moved from a frantic "We need workers to fill these spots!" to the idea that if there was not someone with a call and passion, it may not be the time for that ministry. The emphasis is not on doing as many jobs in the church as you can possibly fit in, but finding your God-given passion that matches your gift. (I think this is hard for people like myslef, raised in a small church, and the pastor's kid, and always filling gaps where needed.)

It is so true that 20% of the people do 80% of the work, even in a large church. I think this structure enables new believers or those not normally involved to serve where they best fit. A little scary at first, but I think a needed thing.

In regards to spiritual gifts changing, I personally think that your top gifts can take different forms, or even "change places" during the different seasons of life. For example, one of Robb's top three gifts was faith, but due to difficult times in our lives, that became his top gift.

I am going to take the test you referenced; I was odd in the fact that the class I attended was wonderful, but actually confused me as I left there with more questions than answers. It might be my season of life...who knows?

Thanks for the fun discussion!

Tara said...

Julie, your church sounds like it was following the "Natural Church Development" structure. Does that ring a bell?

Kimberly said...

I'm certainly not theological :) but do think we probably are given specific gifts...they may be an outgrowth of personality if nothing else...or could be specifically "spirit given". But still, think we are all called to develop full range of "fruits"...(wow, what a task!)

Certainly agree w/your comments to Jody...sure looks like mercy to me!! sometimes the practical is the most important!!!

Re: Julie's coments: It IS hard w/our backgrounds to not just jump into everything...maybe it's getting older and tireder, but I have really learned to say "no" better and prioritize more. But at the same time, I never want to "ignore" a need or place of responsibilty vecause it's not "my gift."

And just to stir the pot a little more, I wonder if all these marketed ideas (surely a big business?!) aren't trying to address a more basic need....the fact that a few people really are doing most of the "work" in churches and the need in general is for more real committment.

Ladyluck said...

Tara, I had another comment, but it just got longer and longer... so I'm thinking I will post it on my blog? My only hesitation is that I'm not sure that I have the same readers that you do, and I would love to keep the discussion going. So... all of Tara's friends, come on over :-)

julie f said...

Tara,
Yes, our church has followed the "Natural Church Development" structure in regards to our church's health analysis, but I don't think we have used it for spiritual gifting. The "Network" book I referred to is through Willow Creek.

I appreciate your thoughts on the voting process and what it seems to have come to. I have had many of these same thoughts. And I don't think we are alone.

Blessings on you!