Valuing Personality and Gifting: Part 1April 19, 2016
Each person is uniquely wired and gifted for something amazing, I truly believe that. The problem I’ve found, however, is that many people lack the self awareness to discern the intricacies of their makeup. Understanding why you think and do the things you do can be the difference between a life of deep meaning or a life of constant frustration.
These realities play themselves out in all arenas of life. For me, I see it often in the business world as I coach leaders and teams. The greatest leaders have deep self-awareness while the most problematic ones are lacking in this area. This issue of understanding personality and gifting plays itself out in a missional community too.
For this reason, I was asked to share a three part series on personality and gifting and conclude with fourth summary blog. I hope this series will serve you well.
The Miracle of the New Creation
What I want to share is how you can help everyone know how they have been particularly gifted to make disciples. The first layer of understanding is knowing what you all have in common—a new identity.
Those who follow Jesus identify themselves, not by what they do, but by what’s been done to them. Ask most people about themselves and they will identify themselves by their job or place in life. For instance, I could identify myself as an executive coach, church planter or dad. But what happens if I lose my job or my children? Then the foundations of my identity are shaken and I’m left grasping for meaning.
The way of Jesus, however, is a completely different path. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come,” the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17. What this means is that those who have come into a relationship with Jesus become new people—full stop. Let that sink in.
Followers of Jesus identify themselves, not by what they do, but what Christ has done to them. He has made them new, changed people. Yes, they still work jobs and parent children, but those things aren’t at the core of their fundamental identity anymore (Titus 3:5 ,1 John 3:1). Add to that, anything good that comes from me now is the result of God’s work in me (Gal. 2:20).
In the story of Jesus we learn who God is and what he has done. This affects who we are and how we live. Not knowing this will result in people stacking a new legalism onto themselves that says they should be good people for the sake of others. Living a good life is a fruit, and good fruits have good roots. So what are these roots? Well, good roots are beliefs.
In the Soma Family we call this our Trinitarian Identity. Here’s what that means in summary.
- Because we were outsiders who were brought in through Jesus work, God is our Father and we are his Family (Rom. 8:15-16, 1 John 3:1). This is why we open our homes and enjoy fellowship around the table. It’s because this is what God did for us through Jesus. Now we have a home with God and a restored fellowship with him and each other. This is reflected in how we interact with outsiders as well.
- Because Jesus is a servant King who served our greatest need, we are no longer prisoners, poor or needy. Because we have been served like this, we are now Servants of King Jesus. This is the reason we serve the least of these—we were once that too and Jesus cared for us anyway (Phil. 2, Matt. 25:36-40).
- Last, because God’s Spirit has been poured out on us, we now have an internal power that moves us to speak of our motivation for why we would do all these things. We love because we have been loved! This is what it means that we are Missionaries. Because we’ve been given the Spirit of God, we are motivated to share about his amazing grace to us (Lk. 24:49, Acts 1:8)
Understanding our common identity that’s resulted from the Gospel is foundational. We are Family, Servants & Missionaries. This is why we call a missional community A Family of Servant Missionaries, sent by God to make disciples who make disciples. It’s not just a good method — it’s a response to the Gospel.
If you are seeking to help those in your missional community learn more deeply about how they’ve been designed—start with the Gospel. When people know and experience who God is and what he has done, they will know who they’ve been made to be. This will result in worship, and worship leads to new ways of living.
“We just don’t have anything in common,” is something that’s said often as an excuse as to why to not pursue a relationship with a fellow believer. Only a person who doesn’t deeply understand the gospel could say this. When we share the cup and break bread to remember Christ’s blood shed and body broken for us, we share “communion.” This word taken from latin means literally “common union.” Followers of Christ have everything in common—they’ve been made new creations! When a believer says they have nothing in common with another believer, they are basing their identity on something other than Jesus work—and Jesus work is what brings relationships together where there would have normally been division (2 Cor. 5:11-21).
Where to Start
After you’ve shared about the new identity Christ gives, ask your group where they think they are strongest (Family, Servant or Missionary). Then ask where they think they need to grow the most, why they think that and how they see they could work that out together. Last, develop a plan based on what your group says.
“What ought we be doing together?” Is the wrong starting question. Ivan Illich said well that “Neither revolution nor reformation can ultimately change a society, rather you must tell a new powerful tale…” For the purposes of this blog, the new powerful tale is the Gospel. Tell that tale well and watch the Holy Spirit change people. This is the right starting point for the gifting conversation.
Once a disciple understands the concept of common identity — then you can begin building. In my next post I would like to talk about the next layer to understanding gifting in the context of a missional community—we’ll call it a “vocational lens.”
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