We all like gifts. Getting, giving, opening, buying… gifts are good.
But there’s another type of gift. There are gifts that are given to us for the specific reason to be shared.
I’m talking about our God given spiritual gifts.
For some reason, in my denomination we rarely hear anything about spiritual gifts. A realization I stumbled upon in conversation with a good friend who is wondering what is next in her ministry, and inspired by a speaker we had at our recent Cruxifusion conference.
Somehow we make it through an “intense” discernment process which helps identify those called to paid accountable ministry within the church, yet we never talk about the spiritual gifts God has blessed us with and how they might be offered to the church.
So here we have a bunch of clergy who do not fully understand what it is they offer, which has a significant impact on not only how they execute the ministries, but also on their pastoral identity within the churches and communities they work.
Is there any wonder why we have so many clergy on stress leave or in conflict with the churches they serve?
Thankfully I did a spiritual gifts inventory with some Baptist friends about a decade ago. Every so often I will go back and check to see what, if anything, has changed, and to make sure I am remembering what I bring to the church.
It helps me remember why I’m here, what it is I bring, and where my weaknesses are.
Yet, many of our clergy have no idea. And so they struggle with who they are as ministers and how they fit into the church.
How is this healthy?
If you are struggling with your identity, whether you are a minister or an active lay person in the church, you really should do some work around discovering your spiritual gifts. There are many resources out there you can use, and it wouldn’t hurt to explore more than one. Do it with your church! Or with a bunch of friends! But do it!
If you are a student… do it! It will help you to understand yourself better.
We don’t talk about these things nearly enough in the United Church of Canada. We talk about “affirming people’s gifts”, but usually that means we allow people to chase their passions… for better or for worse. Unless we explore the scriptural basis for our God given spiritual gifts, then our passions may not be pursued to their fullest.
Passion is good, but passion needs to be supported by the appropriate gifts.
If a church does not understand the gifts it has within its membership, how can it successfully reach the community in which it serves?
Simply… in most cases it can’t. (Yes there will be exceptions)
Imagine if our clergy, and the people who call our churches home, understood the gifts they have and how these gifts can be used to support the ministries we wish to carry out in our communities. Imagine how much more effective we could be in sharing God’s love with the world around us.