Monday, September 11, 2006

Spiritual Gifts

I am getting totally sick and tired of hearing about spiritual gifts. Now I have to admit that at one point I was a devoted disciple of spiritual gifts and believed that every person had to know what their gift was and serve in that area. But I have been converted (de-converted) for better or for worse.
In case you do not know what spiritual gifts are let me explain. Spiritual gifts are gifts that the Holy Spirit has given to people to serve and extend the Kingdom of Jesus the Messiah. There are all kinds of gifts - I have seen many different lists with many different gifts. Now I do believe that spiritual gifts are biblical and that the Holy Spirit does give them but I am beginning to have a problem with how the church is using spiritual gifts.
I am not sure how long ago - but it was a while back - the church began to teach that everyone had to know what their spiritual gift was and then serve in that area. I personally gone through the process of discovering my gifts many times - and have in fact lead other people through this. But I have begun to see problems with this. It sounds good in theory but practical is a little more difficult.
First problem is figuring out what gift God has given me. The usual way is to take a survey. The problem with the survey is that it focuses on past experiences - not sure how else they would write a survey but this still causes problems. You see if I have never done something then how would I know if I have the gift or not. If I have not preached how would I know whether or not God has spoken through me. The other problem is that every survey has different gifts listed (and actually often define them differently). So if I am suppose to know my gift what happens if that survey does not have my gift listed? Another problem with finding my gift is that I believe God gives gifts for a period and then gives a person a different gift. So now I have to constantly say "I had this gift but I need to double check and see if I still do have it."
The second problem with the way that spiritual gifts are used is that instead of empowering people it seems to stop people from growing. It is amazing how many times I have heard the expression "that is not my gift." Instead of trying new things and being stretched we retreat to doing what is safe. Now my God is a god who likes to stretch me and push me into new things. But it seems that people are using spiritual gifts as an excuse for not growing.
This leads me to the third problem is that I see people using spiritual gifts as an excuse to be disobedient to God. They state it is not my gift when God has commanded them to do it any way. For example on Sunday my church was having a picnic and a stranger wandered into our area and looked around. He was obviously not a part of our group. But no one went up to him. No one showed him any hospitality. On his way out of our group my wife and I caught him and talked to him. Now I have to confess that I did not see him - my wife did. And if I did see him I am not so sure I would have gone up to him anyway. But the point is that no one did. I am sure we all have our excuses (and some of them are valid) but everyone had an excuse? I am sure some people would even use the excuse "it was not my gift. Hospitality is for someone else." Now no one said this in this case but I have actually heard people use their gift as an excuse for disobeying God.
So I am tired of spiritual gifts. My advice to people is learn to pray, read your bible and listen to God and then do what he says whether it is your gift or not.


Princess Tracey said...

I like it! Good idea Ben - pray, listen to God and then do what He says whether it's your gift or not. I can receive that.

Sister C said...

Nice rant Ben. Guilty!**smilie raising hand here*** I have totally said that before "I can't do that it's not my gifting"
I love the last line aswell -pray , listen and do - maybe there is also still room for the long term spiritual gifts. Looking at both with an open mind, we always need to be changable.