During the spring break trip a couple of weeks back, the students here spent some time with a few Navigator staff who specialize in spiritual gifting/personality/career fit, etc. It was a great time for them and has led to some good questions and conversations.
Until recently, I’ve really hated this whole topic. Whenever I take any sort of spiritual gifts inventory I always come back with the gifts of Exhortation and Mercy. Those can seem very contradictory in nature and in my life, my “Mercy” gift has frequently stomped on my “Exhortation” gift. Meaning, I have a deep and nagging sense that I should speak to someone about an issue, but I so FEEL for them, that don’t. I’ve also felt that maybe my “mercy” gifting was really not mercy, just whimpiness cloaked in tears.
For the mathmatically minded, here’s how it’s felt being me:
1 Gift (exhortation) + 1 Gift (mercy) does not = 2 Gifts because Mercy is actually a -1 and so that = ZERO Gifts! Get me?
Anyway, recently I have experienced the freedom and fruit of operating out of both of my gifts at the same time, and I have found they are really a wonderful partnership after all. This is overwhelmingly God’s gift to me at just the right time. Just when I needed to see some fruit to encourage me, just when there were some difficult and healing conversations to be had, He gave me the confidence to confront and rebuke, in love and with mercy.
What happened? What was the change? Well, I think I have in the past misunderstood the meaning of spiritual gifts. I guess I thought of them more like things I had inherited – they were given to me and they were wholly mine to keep, use, make the most of. They were no longer connected to the giver. So, whether or not they were used to their potential was solely my responsibility.
I’ve begun to see them more as an way in which the Holy Spirit and I can work together. They are like those hokey “Best Friends Forever” heart necklaces where each friend wears one half. I’ve been given the capacity to exhort and extend mercy, but without the power of the Holy Spirit, there is no kingdom significance.
I don’t totally know how this works itself out practically. I don’t say any special chant or prayer to “activate” my gifts, but I sense this deeper understanding of what they are and how they can be used properly has really made them much more effective.
And so, for you mathematically minded, I say , 1 + 1 can = 2 if you = + 1 Holy Spirit. Get me?