I remember the first time I was told everyone was blessed with a spiritual gift from God. It was college, the (of course) the Christian groups I was a part of, there was every year a time when the group would review what are the spiritual gifts and sometimes offer surveys and suggestions about how to determine your own. And it was probably the first time I felt “funny” about figuring something out for my faith. Not that I have never heard of the spiritual gifts–its just in the church I grew up in your focus as a child was to memorize the Apostle creed, eventually make it up to communion (which was more of a remembrance time instead of impacted with Christ–again, kid’s perspective) and know all the good stories of the Bible. I guess you can say figuring out where you fit in the description of the Kingdom wasn’t a priority for a child. (no offense meant to those who were about or who still practice in my childhood congregation.)
So, back to college and figuring this out. I was all for this. After hearing the verses on gifts myself, i was all for taking a survey that told me what category I fit into. Surveys made solving life easy. You didn’t have to adapt–you just had to learn who YOU were and APPLY. Easy, no?
HA! I struggled with this for several years… I would take one test, of course it would tell me I was musically inclined (which was not much of a guess cause i grew up in that environment) but I never consider that an “important” gift. I would take another test and it would tell me a completely different set of gifts. The problem is (which I found is a default of pastors and psychopaths) I can read people really well–aka read surveys really well and almost tell you exactly what categories are there without knowing the answer. I enjoy taking surveys not because I want to figure out who I am, but see if I can fit my life into a definition. Something I think all of us try to do. And yet, thinking back on it–I didin’t need a survey to tell me who I was. I only needed God and His Word, and when I do things that are of God, that are good, I should be thankful they are his gifts. And then I should use them for His glory and to help others. That’s the point, really. Kingdom focused, not self-centered.
Despite this rediscovery–I did learn a lot about myself. First, I learned that I HAD faith. I think for years, because I grew up in church and didn’t actually get it when they talked about finding Christ in the lives because I have honestly never not known who Christ is, I believed I didn’t have real faith. I wasn’t like this person who found Christ or that person who went on a mission trip. I was just me, who went to church, who loved it and wanted to spend time with the people who matter (church friends mostly) and do fun stuff at church. It was shocking when I actually accepted the idea that I had belief in God and could inspire others (if worked upon) to have belief. Again–That was a shock to me, since I had never known anyone that I had personally “brought to Christ.” Yet, somehow I was still acknowledge for having faith.
I also learned that I have the gift of knowledge. Now–honestly, what in the heck (sorry) am I suppose to do with that? I love learning. I love knowing everything about what is going on. I don’t like being left in the dark. Honestly, just ask my husband. He surprises me all the time and it can truly freak me out sometimes. And I think in trying to figure out what to do with my gifts I have figured out the whole point I mentioned earlier. The gifts are God’s, for His people, and as a community of the Living Word we are to work towards His Kingdom with the tools He has already given us. Again, Kingdom Focused, not human-centered.
Finally, I learned I did not have one specific gift (and I already knew this but its kind of a big one)– Prayer. I noticed prayer was not on my high point of spiritual gifts. And as a challenge I worked on trying to be more active because prayer is emphasized so much in the biblical text as something needed for faith and working for God. However, as time moved on, I realized that God didn’t NOT give me this gift. It’s just defined a little differently. Yes–I struggle (as most younger adults do) with silence and meditation. But I feel like I pray every time I take a moment and stop, consider God, talk with Him and acknowledge Him. My “pause buttons” are not defined movements where I write a letter (explain to me again why all prayers start like this…) to God who is probably already in tune with my wants, needs, my prayers and my concerns. They are truly as if I hit “pause” on the remote of life and turned my way towards God to get a little feedback or talk about something I just saw on the television “LIFE.”
So next time you get to Corinthians and see Paul talking about spiritual gifts and wonder “There’s no way I fit into that bubble”, I hope you consider some things first, talk to God first and enjoy what crazy stuff He has to offer.