If Lent is the time for doing without, Eastertide is the time to try something new. We’re living in a new kingdom. A spirit of new life and restless growth is upon us. I’m going to propose an experiment as you approach Pentecost. Try some new spiritual gifts. We find out what we’re gifted at by trial and error. And because the gifts do not exist outside of community that means that you must often be seen as foolish by those that you are closest to. One of my most vivid memories from college was a small group of us in the church late in the evening praying and worshiping. We tried different spiritual gifts. Someone who had never spoken in tongues tried to do it. Someone else tried to prophecy. It was awkward, vulnerable and holy.
Faith is not just a quiet trust but can also be a terrifying display of courage. It’s fine to sing, “I believe in Jesus!” But what about those sick that need healing? And the spiritually troubled that need liberation? Our religion is boring because we are too timid. Our personal timidity has corporate effects. We are the Body of Christ and our diversity is a strength if different gifts are recognized, practiced and nurtured. As a lifelong Assemblies of God member, I confess that I am terrible at speaking in tongues. I can do it if I’m forced. And sometimes (usually when I’m scared speechless) I do pray in tongues. But it is certainly not my gift. I have a gift for teaching. My dream job would be Sunday School teacher. But in my denomination we have often been guilty of making tongues the entrance fee to earn your badge in an exclusive club. A young man at the Bible college here in Mozambique stutters when he preaches but sings like an angel. I am praying that he will be recognized for the spiritual gift he has and not rejected for the one he lacks.
Spiritual gifts are diverse by nature and like gifts they are especially selected for each person with care. Today is my daughter’s birthday. Everyone in the family has picked out something special for her, knowing her likes and interests and abilities. God is like that when he gives you a spiritual gift. He knows you very well. He created you and his gift for you is ideally suited to you.But, how to discover your gift? You might begin with some research. Read 1 Corinthians 12-14, the key verse is this:
Well, my brothers and sisters, let's summarize what I am saying. When you meet, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in an unknown language, while another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must be useful to all and build them up in the Lord. (1 Cor. 14:26, NLT)Another good place to look is the “words in red.” What were the things that Jesus said his disciples would do because he was returning to the Father and sending the Holy Spirit? Read this and ask yourself if you believe it:
Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:11-14, NIV)And for a secular resource on giftedness try the StrengthsFinder Index. While the Myers Briggs Type Indicator can tell you how you’re different from others, StrengthsFinder helps you understand what you’re good at. See here for an interesting discussion of the correlation between the two tests: Strengths Finder/MBTI correlation.
There is a man in our village who is mentally ill, or demonically possessed, or something. Whatever it is, he’s deeply troubled and lives a filthy beggarly existence. I keep thinking that instead of giving him a coin or a handful of beans that I should lay hands on him and pray for his liberation. But frankly I’m scared. It’s risky and uncomfortable. Do you have something risky like that that you’re feeling you should do but aren’t because you’re afraid of failure or embarrassment? Perhaps discovering our gifts requires a risk-taking faith.