For the past two weeks I have heard a good friend teach about spiritual gifts in a class at the church we attend. Thiis is not the first time I have heard teaching on this subject over the years. I have even taken a spir. gift inventory or two. But I am beginning to wonder a couple of things:
- How important is it, really, to know what spiritual gift we might have.
- Is the whole discussion and search truly edifying?
- Is it necessary to know what are gift might be in order to minister to others more effectively?
I’d appreciate your thoughts. Frankly, I did not walk away from the class today feeling very encouraged. Tim
Wow, this brings back memories as it was a regularly rotated course at my Bible College and in a few church groups I attended during and after that. I fully understand why you may not have been encouraged because of it. The validation for this premise is Biblical, which simply means that one can use Scripture to back up the concept. It doesn’t mean, however, that the practice we’ve established has anything to do with the meaning in Paul’s letters. For his words didn’t suggest taking any kind of “spiritual inventory” or to “discover your spiritual gifts”. Instead, he referred to something that had been obvious among those he wrote to, encouraging them to continue in the very expressions of life they had already exhibited among the group. It’s just like with anything else, we have turned the expression of God into a formula by our attempts to dissect, identify and categorize the miracle.
Now, I’m sure that many who teach these classes believe they are carrying out that which is important to God. They may be desperately struggling to increase a sense of community among groups that lack such interaction. I mean, how many groups have any of us been part of that have little to no real interaction? I realized way back as a teenager that whatever Christianity was supposed to be that it ought to have some real connection other than just showing up and getting together for the sake of form. This is one reason why we’ve searched the Bible for programs and teachings, for we want to create some reality and then “pass it on”. Here we are with life blossoming all around us and yet we resort to methods of duplication in an attempt to clone the life, and then wonder why our clones don’t seem to perform as we had expected.
I found no edification by participating in those classes either. I knew that my examination would surely produce poor results (at least in view of what I had hoped I might discover). I would only discover how lacking I was. I sensed the exhilaration/desperation in the air around me through the comments as to gifts or lack thereof that were being “discovered”. Mostly, I didn’t want to know because I didn’t want to discover that I might be a failure in what I thought God would expect. And to be honest, it really came down to my own expectations, for if God approved of me then perhaps I could approve of me.
It has only been through the revelation of my true life in Christ that I began to recognize the expression of God that had been expressing itself through me even in the midst of my own dissatisfaction and disappointment with myself.