Fire! the readout said moments after I clicked for My Result. The giftings I have received from the Holy Spirit are represented by fire – at least according to the automated assessment of a hundred answered questions.
Fire hardly seems like it would fit my character – I am an introvert after all, I don’t really like public speaking and I’m certainly never going to form my own cult of personality. Yet I do like to think deeply on the things of God, and I do like to encourage others to do the same – sometimes even to their aggravation with me. And what good would that be to anyone in the church? I think maybe I should run through the spiritual gifts survey one more time – just to get a second opinion… ya know…
Fire! again. Oh, bother. The readout gives some example giftings: Teaching, evangelism, prophecy, pastor, leadership, discernment.
So what does that mean I’m supposed to do? I’ve never really seen myself as a Teacher, I don’t really feel confident enough to expect others will even listen to me. Am I supposed to mimic what Rick does up on stage? Maybe I can just teach a small group bible study instead? Or maybe I can just write up a lesson for the church newsletter every now and again?
Yikes! Evangelism is one of the fire gifts… that scares my shoelaces off. How can an introvert like me take on something so big, so important, so… frightening? Maybe I should take the survey test just one more time…
Fire! again… dang.
And what’s this? Prophecy? Does that mean I’m going to have to get in people’s faces about their sin like Jeremiah and Isaiah did? Oh, I couldn’t do that – that is even scarier than evangelism (although maybe in a way they are the same thing? I’ll have to think on that some more…)
The Fire gifts also include leadership and pastoring… does that mean I’m being called into full-time ministry? I’m not so sure I want that… in fact, I’m quite confident I don’t want that. Does my resistance to becoming a church pastor mean I’m going to be out of God’s will?
The last one on the list of giftings is Discernment. Finally, a description I am comfortable with. I mean… certainly I could develop discernment a great deal more, but I feel no resistance to this either – after all, who doesn’t want to be discerning. It seems that not being discerning would mean being easily deceived – clearly something to avoid I would think. But if this is a gift empowered by the Holy Spirit Himself, perhaps there is more to it than just my own personal development skills… Surely there must be something spiritual about it all right?
So what am I supposed to do with all this? How does my own personality and identity match up with the expectations that seem to come along with the Fire giftings? I know… I will talk to Rick or Dan about it. Or maybe the elders can help me sort this out. They will probably tell me I should spend some time in prayer about it – and obviously, they would not be wrong. I can’t be the only person in this church feeling overwhelmed by this… so maybe I should connect with some other people who also have Fire giftings, maybe study scripture together a bit and perhaps even pray together about how our unique sort of giftings should build up and bless our church family. Yeah yeah… that is exactly what I’m gonna do.
I wrote the above initially as an exercise to get me started on this writing thingy. I wanted to try to figure out what was important to say to Christians just learning about their spiritual gifts. I think the first thing I want to say is that, even though the giftings have names and fit into a few category boxes, each of us are unique, each Christian has a unique relationship with the Holy Spirit within them, and also a unique relationship with the humans around them – this means that the gift of teaching, for example, will find its expression in unique ways and circumstances.
Life with God is a dynamic thing. We spend energy to systematize it and categorize “The Christian Life”, but in any given moment the only thing that really has any value is relationship with God and others. Our systems may indeed help prepare us to engage in these moments, but they can also result in us getting trapped in the systems if we are not careful.
Where shall I “land the plane” (as Rick likes to say)? It is here – spiritual gifts are entirely relational (Love God, Love People). Do not try to figure out your giftings, or what they mean for your life path, in isolation from others. The categories we place these giftings in are meant only to be a help – not a nine-lock-box to get trapped in. There are others around you finding themselves in the same place of wonder and confusion – this is a blessing – a part of being the church – so go be confused together… go wonder in love.
Written by Shea Caperoon