Looking at Gifts Backwards
We have talked about giftedness plenty of times - in this blog, in sermons, in casual conversations, in the business of the Nominating Committee - no lack of ways. Giftedness is some ability that God gives you. It's not a skill that you develop from scratch, like tying your shoes. Rather, it's something God gives you, usually at birth or by the Holy Spirit after salvation ... hence the word "gift."
We believe that the ideal is for people to serve out of their giftedness, that God gives these gifts because He intends for us to use them for His purposes. I even call these gifts the "Minor Commission" (compared to the Great Commission) - each particular gift is a command from God to serve Him in that way. Why else would He give a gift?
I was at a conference last night where we talked about using an assets-based approach in neighborhoods of economic insecurity. Some of those assets available to us are our gifts given to us by God. But there was one side comment by the main speaker that caught my attention and shifted my view of gifts in just a bit.
Perhaps it's just me, but I've tended to think if gifts in terms of me receiving the gift. God is the giver, and I am the receiver, and I'm really happy to receive a gift from Him. Of course, I should serve Him with it, but I'm the receiver of the gift. And this is an accurate view.
But the speaker talked about gifts in terms of what we have as assets in order to give away. We're "gifted" in the sense that we have something to give, something to contribute, an asset to add to the effort of a community. I'm the re-giver of the gift.
The perspective is that I, as the gifted one, have been given gifts to give, rather than the perspective that I have been given gifts to merely be a blessed receiver. We can reflect either perspective with how we talk:
The receiver-focused person says, "God has gifted me with empathy. I'm empathetic."
The giver-focused person says, "God has gifted me with empathy so that others can have someone who understands and cares about what they're going through."
We are gifted to be givers, not just gifted to be recipients.