Spiritual gifts and God’s will for me
Mark: I think this brings up another question. You know, we’re talking about this theme here, that is, what’s God’s will for me? And another thing that I heard when I first started practicing my faith was everybody has a spiritual gift or spiritual gifts. It sounds kind of weird, to be honest with you. When you first come in, it’s like, “Wow. So I have some magic power that God gave me.” And I know the Bible specifies particular spiritual gifts. And again, if you’re a new believer and people say this to you, you’re going to hear a lot of things, honestly, when you first read the Bible and when you first start hanging out with Christians, you’re gonna think, “That sounds pretty weird.” Don’t feel weird about that. I think that’s normal. You’re getting into a whole area that you’ve never experienced before. We’re talking about spiritual things that maybe you’ve not experienced before in your life to ever talk about. Understand that we’re talking about God, so anything’s possible. That’s very important. You’ve accepted that, that there’s a God is omniscient and all knowing, all powerful, Almighty, you worship that God. You’ve given your life to that God. So that means things you can’t even begin to imagine are possible. So part of that for me was this idea that we’ve been given spiritual gifts. And God has a will for us. He’s given us a particular spiritual gifts. He wants us to exercise those. Talk a little bit about what those are. What does it mean, God’s will in regard to giving a certain spiritual gift.
Spiritual and physical gifts
Tim: There’s a lot of different ways this is looked at. Let me first acknowledge that and all of them might be beneficial to people, but I’m just going to give you what I’ve kind of boiled it down to. And I’ve looked at this from many different perspective and benefited from a lot of the things that I’ve looked at. This is kind of what I boil it down to and my way of thinking about it. There’s a physical dimension. Bodies. And there’s a spiritual dimension. And we are spirit beings and we’re physical beings, so we have a trinity; body, soul, spirit, and we’re physical and spiritual. I can see your physical gifts. I can see, you may have a gift of being really strong, or you may have a gift of being particularly agile or whatever else, and you may be really smart. That’s a sort of physical gift. We have spiritual giftedness too, and it’s just the same thing in a different dimension. And when the Holy Spirit comes in, it supercharges whatever we have in that spiritual dimension. And so there’s a Mark Meckler spiritual gift, and there’s a Tim Dunn spiritual gift and there’s a Joey Willis spiritual gift. And the Bible will describe some of those things like this, just to make it clear that these things are all available in different people. And we kind of know our gift by what’s easy for us. We tend to undervalue it because it seems easy and we look at other people and say, “Boy, that that looks really hard.” And we tend to value that because it’s hard. it’s easy for them. So I think a part of what the scripture is doing here is helping us understand that what we do is important, and we ought to do that to the best of our ability. But not everybody’s like us. And we want to appreciate the other gifts. We need all the gifts. So don’t undervalue and don’t under-appreciate it. Don’t undervalue your own contribution. Don’t under-appreciate other people’s contribution. And then in 1 Corinthians 12, there’s actually a specific command to say that “The culture you’re in will tend to honor certain gifts above others.”Like in our culture, the upfront gifts tend to get more honor, whatever gets you on stage.
M: Athletic prowess, you can sing well.
T: Sing well, speak well are usually the ones that gets the most honored. And so those already get a lot of honor. So go out of your way to honor the other gifts, the parts like serving in the children’s ministry or visiting people in the hospital or things like that. Be sure to honor because they’re all important. It’s a body. Don’t don’t let the pretty smile get all of the all the adulation. Make sure that the fingernails and the little toes get plenty of adulation. You ever had a hangnail or a broken toe?
M: Yeah, it’s important.
T: It’s really important.
Don’t dismiss your gifts
Joey: Right. I think to continue on the analogy, I think we see the physical gifts, we talk about them a lot. I think as a new Christian, one of the reasons you’ll hear a lot about spiritual gifts is we want to try to elevate your recognition of that reality, right? That like your ability to care for people and welcome them into your home as a gift of hospitality. And that’s a spiritual gift. And so it’s a language that I think we use to help people to kind of recognize that these are important aspects of who you are. And we’re used to seeing things through such a physical lens that they can sometimes lay dormant. And like Tim saying, a lot of times we take our own giftings for granted. It’s like, “Well, of course, I just welcome people into my home. What else are you supposed to do?” It’s like, well, not everybody does that. And there’s a recognition which leads me to the other part of it, which is, you know, you don’t get to say, “Well, I’m very athletic, my physical gift is very athletic, so I’m not going to go to school because I’m not very smart.” You have to participate in all of the physical things. And I think it’s same thing with a lot of personality tests, we tend to use it as a way to really say that this is the only thing that I am, right? But the reality is even if I’m not particularly gifted in hospitality, hospitality is a spiritual gift and I should be exercising that behavior as often as I can. So there’s this kind of duality to it where I need to recognize and really press in and lean into the things that I’m strong in. But I also need to recognize that that’s not an excuse to not engage with the other spiritual gifts that are mentioned. They’re all important and they’re all things that I am capable of.
M: How does this tie into God’s will? Because we started with what’s God’s will for us? So, if God has gifted us with certain spiritual gifts, what’s he saying to us?
How God’s will is to be sanctified
T: God’s will is to be sanctified, which is to walk the path that is actually in our self-interest. Right? One of the greatest things you can do to walk the path in your self-interest is to develop the gifts God gave you as resources, to actually do the jobs that He’s given you to do. Because one of the most fulfilling things you can do, is accomplish a job that you set out to do. Whatever that is, to paint a painting or to build a house or to raise a child or whatever it is, you set out to do something and you see it happen. Well, that’s really fulfilling. Each of us have gifts that God has given us. And when we develop those gifts and fully resource those into our walk and our way, the way He asks us to use them, rather than walking the exploit others path. Well, that is actually God’s will.
M: And scripture lists a series of gifts that are specific to you. Can you tell folks what those are so that people can look at themselves and say, “Well, maybe that’s my gift”?
T: I don’t think of it as a gift. I think of it as everybody has a unique package. And you develop that package. And in time, you may actually become good at things you didn’t think you were going to be good at when you first started. So whatever that package is, the various things that are talked about in the Bible, Joey mentioned hospitality, and so everybody should be hospitable. Some people are really gifted at it.
M: I would say in your family, that’s something you guys focus on.
A command for all gifts
T: But I would say we have a culture of hospitality and some people are more gifted at it than others. But we have a culture of hospitality. But hospitality is also a command. “Be hospitable. You might entertain angels.” So it’s a command and a giftedness. So the question you would ask yourself, is this something I should focus on some or a lot? And that’s a matter of resource allocation. Another gift is a gift of wisdom. Everybody wants to develop wisdom. Some people are going to have more gifts of wisdom in various areas. What are some other ones that you can think of?
J: Discernment is on on the list. There’s couple of places where there’s a list of them.
T: There’s also some things like miracles and healing and prophecy. Prophecy and speaking in tongues and things like that that are given as gifts that are really actually channeling the Holy Spirit into some specific instance. And you see those things, that’s a move of God that’s coming through people. And that’s more God’s choice, I would say, and a matter of availability. Are we available to be a part of that? But there’s people that, the two ditches on that, I would say the people that say you can kind of make God do that at your command. That doesn’t really work. And then there’s the people that say, “Well, God can’t do that anymore.” I’m pretty sure He still can. And the question is really one of availability and then there’s these functions that Ephesians 4 talks about given to the church, Apostolic functions, which is really visionary. And everybody has some ability to do that, some are much better than others. There’s the prophetic thing. Everybody knows what’s true and what isn’t, and some are much more gifted at just speaking it. There’s evangelists which is like the enthusiasm for spreading God’s way and mobilizing people and then going out. And everybody does that to some extent. Some people are really gifted at it. Then there’s the shepherding function. All of us have a shepherding responsibility. Some people are just really amazing at it, more naturally gifted at it. And then there’s teaching. And teaching is something that all of us need to learn to do. To some extent. You have kids, you certainly should teach them.
M: If you’re an employer and you have employees, if you’re a manager and you’re managing people, you’re going to do some teaching.
A matter of stewardship
T: Some people are really gifted at it. So I think, just having some awareness of, developing my gifts and put in the resources for it, it’s all a matter of stewardship. Here’s I think the big key. Are we looking at how am I stewarding what God gave me so I can serve him? Or are we looking at, what can I do that will make other people look at me and I can manipulate their affirmation of me? That second thing is a trap, a fraud, a slavery.
M: And incredibly common.
The right intentions
T: Yes! And a burden that’s unbearable. It’s ridiculous, don’t do that. And we’re all naturally wired to do that. And this other thing as well. How do I get self-awareness? I talk to other people again. I gain insight. How can I best steward who I am, who God made me? Usually self-awareness comes over time. But sometimes you get with that prophet who will speak real plainly to you and tell you things you didn’t want to hear about yourself. Because you want to chisel that part away that is not productive and, and lean into the part that is.
J: Yeah, I would say, in summation, you know, if we’re talking about God’s will, if we were to say “God’s will for your life is to be an Olympic athlete,” you would say, “Okay, well, I’ve got this body and these certain muscles and there are resources that I can use to build those things up. I’ve got to use my brain to learn about the sport or whatever.” If the Bible itself says God’s will for your life is your sanctification, we’ve got to look around and say like, “Okay, well, these are the gifts that are given towards that end.” And one element of this we haven’t covered is that even the gifts of your community, like you were just saying a prophet will sometimes speak into you and that helps you move towards sanctification. So it’s a recognition not just of your own gifts and the way this works in your own life, but the people you are in community with and in fellowship with, and how that can affect each of you individually, but also you collectively towards that sanctification.
M: So we’ve said a lots, but I think it comes down to the same thing. You kind of know, it’s the stuff that’s easy for you. Often, it’s stuff that’s most satisfying for you to do. And then you take what is a gift and if it’s a spiritual gift and you feel that and you develop that, that’s your responsibility towards sanctification.
T: That’s right. And the goal is, “If I do it for God, I’m benefiting me. If I do it to manipulate others, to affirm me, I’m losing myself.” And if you can choose that perspective, you can’t really mess this topic up. If you don’t choose that perspective, you can’t get it right.
J: There’s a great story in the Bible. I believe it’s a parable from Jesus where he says, “When you go to a banquet, don’t sit there at the head spot and then have the host have to tell you, like, ‘this isn’t your spot, buddy.’ Go sit at the lowest spot. And then the host will be like, ‘Oh, no, no, this isn’t where you belong. Let me take you where you belong.’” And it takes a certain amount of trust and humility for us to do that with God, to say, “I’m going to serve, I’m going to give my life to you. I’m going to focus on you and worship you with the trust that you’re going to take me from that lowly seat and put me into the place where I belong.”
M: Right. Excellent. That’s great.