Valuing Personality and Gifting: Part 3June 17, 2016
This is part three of a four part series on valuing personality and gifting. Knowing one’s spiritual gifts can be a great source of strength as you live and serve in this world. In this third part, I want to unpack how the other spiritual gifts can be helpfully understood and deployed. But before we get to that, let’s review where we’ve been.
Common Identity & Vocational Lens
In my first blog, I talked about the Gospel and how understanding your gifting begins with understanding who God is and what he has done. Knowing this helps us understand who we have been made to be. We called this our “common identity.” Please read that blog if you haven’t done so yet.
In my second blog, I shared about the gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4. These gifts make up a kind of lens that we view the world through. Once you understand the reality of the new creation that Christ brings, then you need to understand how that works itself out in the world. Please read that blog to understand what we called, your “vocational lens.”
Our common identity and vocational lens make up the context through which the other gifts are deployed. In this third blog, I’d like to address the varieties of other gifts and how they are deployed.
The “Tool Belt”
I’ve come to see the other spiritual gifts kind of like Batman’s tool belt. The interesting thing about Batman is that he actually possesses no superpowers. He’s a normal guy, just like us. Yet there are a few basic things that make him effective. First off, he’s really strong and is basically a ninja. Second, he’s got that cool suit. On top of that—cool vehicles, lots of them.
To press the illustration further, as Batman is out and about, sometimes he needs to access other smaller gadgets in his tool belt. Every so often he needs some throwing stars or smoke bombs or other tools. Batman isn’t identified as a throwing star, no, his identity will always be Batman. But he does have some tools he utilizes.
Batman illustrations aside, my point here is that our common identity is set—we are new creations, the family of God, etc… And we all view the world in particular ways (Eph. 4:11). But the tools we utilize on the journey are all different and given for varying purposes at different times. Depending on our vocational lens, deploying the same gift will look differently as well.
Examples of Spiritual Gifts Being Deployed
There are at least 25 spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible and we are told they are for one reason—service to others (1 Peter 4:10). The goal of this service is that people would experience the tangle presence of the living Christ through his people (Eph. 1:22-23).
Not sure what your “tool belt” holds? There are numerous gifting assessments online you could take. You could also read the main passages in scripture that contain the most comprehensive lists (Rom. 12:6-8, 1 Cor. 12:8-10 & 28) and discuss with a friend to see what you think yours are. To help this make sense I’ll give you a few illustrations.
A person gifted with the evangelistic lens who also has the gift of administration will most likely organize people for purposes of evangelism. Yet someone with with the shepherding lens who has the gift of administration in his tool belt will probably organize people for purposes of pastoral care. Do you see how knowing the lens you see through effects how you might organize? Again, knowing one’s lens helps to know the context in which the items in the tool belt will be deployed.
For instance, I know someone with a shepherding lens who also has the gift of service. She has been known to clean people’s houses and organize their things as a welcome home present when they are gone on vacation. Don’t get uncomfortable with this—she already had a relationship with her neighbors and they gave her a key to their house to feed the pets while they were gone. She serves from a shepherds heart.
Are you beginning to see how this fits together?
Watch your kids. At a young age, you will begin to see how their lens shapes their other gifts. My daughter asks quite often, “Dad, when can we throw another party for the neighborhood?” That’s the lens of an evangelist, gathering a crowd, and the gift of hospitality at play. My daughter thinks about the many. On the other hand, my son regularly says, “Mom, so and so’s family doesn’t have much money and their birthday is coming up. I want to make sure they have something, so can we go to the store and get them a soccer ball?” That’s the lens of a shepherd, caring for the heart, and the gift of service. While my daughter thinks about the many, my son thinks about a specific person. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. Try it.
To Summarize—Here’s the Grid I’m Trying to Help You See
Common Identity -> Vocational Lens -> Tool belt.
Remember, the purpose of knowing how our gifting works is that we might be able to more effectively serve others. We do this because God first served us through Jesus (1 John 4:19). Weren’t we hungry once? Jesus fed us. Weren’t we a disorganized mess at one time? Jesus came in and brought order. This is why we deploy our gifts: Jesus did this for us. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to remember how we’ve been loved—this, he said, will lead to a tangible love for others (John 13:34).
I hope this third blog has brought more clarity to the gifting conversation. In my last blog in this series, I would like to summarize the previous three blogs and offer a brief word on how understanding the modern day concept of personality type fits into the conversation. Stay tuned for what’s coming next.