Read this testimony from Stacy Brown Braeske on spiritual gifts:
When Diane called me this week and asked me to talk for a few minutes about my spiritual gifts journey, I answered right away. No problem! I can do that. How hard can it be, right?
Because even though I am confident that public speaking is neither one of my spiritual gifts nor talents, I can talk for a few minutes about how it is possible to be nearing the end of my fifth decade on this planet and still struggling to figure out what god is calling me to do. Right? How hard can that be?
Well, I’m sure you see where I was going with that.
It was really hard, and kind of painful, for a couple reasons.
First of all, I don’t think I understood what spiritual gifts really means. Or rather, I was looking at the question wrong. Turns out spiritual gifts are not necessarily those things that you love to do that give you a spiritual high, or make you feel warm & fuzzy or happy or even holy. That can be a part of it, or a byproduct of it, but it turns out that’s not really the point.
If instead a spiritual gift is something given to us, as Christians, by God, that we have the responsibility to use to serve God and each other, maybe I have actually known what my spiritual gifts were all along, I just didn’t want to see it. Because for some people, tapping into your spiritual gifts can be hard or scary and we don’t think we can do hard things, or we don’t want to try and fail.
One of my favorite writers, Jen Hatmaker, wrote about spiritual gifts in a piece called ‘Run Your Race.’ She said that for those of us who are waiting around for God to tell us what to do, she thinks God would say to us, “I love you, but get going precious snowflake, because chasing the dream I put in your heart is hard work. So don’t just stand there, bust a move.”
So back to my spiritual gift quest, I have always been very quick to turn down pretty much every opportunity that comes my way to teach children because, as my own children will tell you, maybe surprisingly, I do not like groups of children. Especially when they act like children: you know, rowdy, silly and loud. However if, like I suspect, I actually do have the spiritual gift of teaching, there are plenty of ways to teach that don’t involve child crowd control. I could teach adults, or I could teach children one-on-one.
Or I could write. As much as I fear public speaking, I love putting words to paper. I absolutely love it. But anyone who has ever written anything knows that writing can be hard, and it can be scary, and sometimes we avoid doing hard and scary things.
Then there’s the spiritual gift of helps. Now that all of my kids are in school, God has blessed me with the gift of free time and the sincere desire to help. I want to be of service to others, which always has the added side benefit of giving me that spiritual high that I seek. But do I do it? A little. But not nearly enough. Because it’s work, and it involves sacrifice, and opportunities to be of service don’t usually fall directly into my lap, and no one comes over and takes me by the hand and leads me right to the people who need my help.
So, what’s my point. It is that I don’t know yet exactly what I am meant to do with my spiritual gifts, but I am committed to figuring it out and I invite anyone like me who is also struggling, to keep trying to figure it out. Whether you are 47 or 77 or 27, I believe we are obligated as Christians to stop being spectators to our faith, and instead become active participants using the spiritual gifts given to us by our creator.