A Few Questions Answered
While writing this blog series I have received questions from friends and family about the “redemptive gifts”. Before I close this series I’d like to answer a few. I should say that I’m not close to having all the answers. The final book about the gifts hasn’t been written, because each new person is a new chapter. With that caveat, let’s begin:
Can a person have more than one redemptive gift?
The short answer is no. The short answer is also misleading. The best way to think about our gift is like light.
In Proverbs 20:27 it says,
“The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the innermost parts of his being.” (NASB)
Imagine white light being passed through a prism. White light contains the entire color spectrum. But when it passes through a prism it splits into the seven colors of the rainbow.
1 John 1:5 says, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (KJV)
The light of God shines in and through us. Our spirit, which is the lamp of the Lord, contains that pure light. Our spirits contain all seven colors of that light, and all seven of those redemptive gifts (prophet, servant, teacher, exhorter, giver, ruler, and mercy). But what comes out of our soul is one dominant color of that light- one of those gifts.
But we aren’t only our gifts. If that were the case all of us would have only one of seven personalities- and God loves color and variety. We are shaped by many factors: the gifts of our parents and their parents, our birth order, the values of our culture, and our life choices. We are also shaped negatively by our sin nature, the wounds of our past, and what was done to us or not done for us.
What about people who act like carnal or immature versions of their gifting?
Sometimes people need to heal to become who God intended them to be. Sometimes they need to grow. There are a lot of wounded, infantile people in the world who need both. Healing requires listening, prayer, comfort, and deliverance. Growth requires a kick in the pants and a heavy dose of truth. A lot of people are good at one but not the other.
Look at the example of Jesus. The same man who healed and comforted people drove out tax collectors and called His own disciple Satan. He knew how and when to switch it up.
For those who are interested in the levels of human development as told from a Christian perspective, I highly recommend Dr. Jim Wilder’s book “Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You.” With that said, there are some things you can do to help someone you associate with heal and/or grow.
1. Pray for their design: This may take some work to discover, but it makes your prayers more specific and effective. A person may be flawed, but their design isn’t. They may operate out of wounds or immaturity, but God still likes the way He made them. It’s worth figuring out why.
2. Honor their design: When you see something in someone that is noble call it out. Just the act of honoring someone’s design may cause them to see themselves in a different way.
3. Be an example: The most powerful persuader is not a good-sounding argument. It’s fruit. The fruit of your life is hard to argue with. You may not even realize what people are seeing in your life that they admire. But they do.
4. Tell stories: If you want to change culture where you live, work, or play- tell stories. Tell stories that show the values you treasure. Make it a part of your culture’s vocabulary. It gives your tribe a common mind. God told the Israelites to tell the stories of His deliverance to the next generation. When they didn’t, they fell into idolatry.
How do I know which gifting I have?
There is no personality test for the gifts. Some have tried. They aren’t very effective. So while I can’t give you a silver-bullet, here are some strategies:
1. Read the Bible in a new way: Instead of reading the Bible for study or self-help, look for design. We often view Moses, Deborah, David, Abraham, Sarah, and Mary as “biblical characters”. They exist in our minds as symbols and types to help explain some doctrine or truth. We see them as a means to an end, the end being our spiritual wellbeing. But they were people. Some were used by God and still didn’t experience fulfillment in life. Some missed their design. Some nailed it. They were complicated, just like we are. Our lives aren’t any more sophisticated because we have WIFI. So don’t approach these people like myths. Approach them as people.
2. Pick a day, pick a gift: Each day of the week, put on the persona of a different gift. Monday, think like a prophet. Tuesday, think like a servant, and so on. By steeping yourself in the thoughts and motivations of different gifts, you can better understand and honor those gifts.
3. Journal through your life with gratitude: Each of us has things in our life we prefer not to remember. But the truth is, Jesus was there for all of it- if we know where to look. Begin by writing out what you are thankful for and stay there for a while. Then begin to look back through your life and ask Jesus, “Where were you in this situation?” I guarantee you He was. You may begin to reframe some of those memories. Perhaps he kept you from harm, or kept it from being worse. Maybe what seemed like a bad thing actually turned out for your good. Maybe it really was awful, but God was there and you weren’t alone. God deals with us according to our gifts. So the things that bring you joy and fulfill you, all those good things, come from Him because He knows you enjoy them. That may help you understand yourself in the process.
This teaching on the redemptive gifts is in no way my own. I rely heavily on the extensive work of Arthur Burk.
If you would like to dive deeper, this teaching series is a great place to start.
Do you have more questions or comments? Let me know!