Monday, July 22, 2013

Individual Gifts and Talents

Today I've been thinking about the charismatic church experience, which is what I'm most familiar with, and something has been highlighted to me by Holy Spirit which I never quite saw this way before.  Here's the scripture that got me started down this road:

"Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly." -Romans 12:4-8

We are each part of the body of Christ.  We each have special gifts and talents, and we each need to be equipped to fulfill our particular role.  We are not supposed to fulfill the same role many times over, we are each called to be something different from anyone else around us.  We say we understand this, and yet how much of the time are we comparing ourselves to each other?  We see someone touched at the altar and think that they have something that we don't have because they fell down under the anointing of the Spirit and we didn't.  Or they gave a word in tongues and interpreted during a church service and we've never done that, so we think they are some how better than we are, more loved by God, more anointed, etc.  We think that in order to be more valuable in the Kingdom of God we need to do what someone we look up to is doing.

And yet, in this passage of scripture, some of the gifts listed don't seem that impressive.  Prophesy, yes, that's something we all want and go after.  But serving others?  Like, offering to clean the church, or working in the kitchen, or watching the babies while their parents are in the main church service?  Encouraging others?  Giving? Showing kindness?  How are these important gifts? We don't see them as having value in the Kingdom of God because they seem too easy.  Out of the list of 7, we only think there is true honor in 3 of them: prophesy, teaching, and leadership, and somehow we think we have to fit ourselves into one of these 3 or we're not being effective for the Kingdom of God.  We all think in order to really do something for God we need to be a leader in some way.  We need to fall into one of the 5-fold ministry positions.  Usually the first thing someone who's on fire for God wants to do is go into full-time ministry.

Where did this idea come from?  Certainly not from God, because here equal value is placed on all the gifts, even those gifts that we think are easy, like encouraging others, or giving.  We have equated being effective for God as standing up in front of people.  You've "made it" if you've got a pulpit from which to speak.  But I don't need a pulpit to be a giver.  I don't need to pulpit to encourage others.  I don't need a pulpit to be kind to the people around me.  And apparently, to God, those gifts are just as vitally important as being a leader or a prophet.

So the question then is, when are we going to start valuing each other for what gifts and talents we are bringing to the Body of Christ?  And when are we going to see the value in ourselves?

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