“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.”
1 Corinthians 12:4, NLT
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”
1 Peter 4:10
Several years ago, the Holy Spirit upended my understanding of the Church. It took some time, as I’ve been in full time ministry for almost 40 years now–and that can be good (or bad.) But I’ve found that over years I had made the Body of Christ into a competitive sport. And although I wouldn’t of phrased it exactly that way, it was how I approached the Christian brothers and sisters in my life.
I guess a great deal of my effort was generated to receive the proper recognition.
I had misunderstood the very of nature of being a ‘gifted’ person. As I look back, I was very much like James and John, in Matt. 20:20-22. It wasn’t so much that I was exalting myself, but I felt (?) that I needed to push for all that Jesus had for me.
We must learn to respect the giftedness of others.
Often, this is easy. When we encounter those with a special ability, it can be fairly easy to do. A teacher or preacher, a worship leader or even an amazing writer–and because of that gifting it becomes fairly simple for the Church to recognize them.
However, we are probably more inclined to operate out of our own envy or frustration. Rather than accepting others, we look for any reason at all to invalidate and disparage them. We scour, and we search for anything to minimize or reject our “competitor.” To bolster our efforts, we label it as “discernment.” This justifies us, as we think that it is protecting the Church.
The Spirit, out of His infinite inventory, distributes the gifts to the Church.
We honor and respect him when we acknowledge that. We don’t elevate the person, but we do accept them, and their obvious gift. We don’t ignore any sin, but we should recognize the Spirit’s decision to use a person in a certain way. Almost always, that gift is hidden in a clay pot. (And maybe that’s our difficulty? I have met gifted saints who were awful jerks).
A necessary thought must be embraced. What about those who have a gift that is seen in someone 30 years younger than you? Paul wrote young Timothy precise instructions on how to handle his youth, and understand how he should understand his position in the Body.
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12
We honor the Spirit most when we honor his gifts. We should respect the giftedness that others may have. Humility often varies with the person, the gift and the maturity. And yet, it would be foolishness for us to think we have settled this issue, once and for all.
Someone once told me, “Gifts are something you do gracefully.” (I like that.) But there are no cookie cutters when it comes right down to it. And one last thought, which I only hope is a wise course for us to consider–
“Be desirous, my son, to do the will of another rather than thine own.”
2 thoughts on “When Others are More Gifted Than You”
This is another excellent post. Once again you have hit on a distressing reality of the Body of Christ. Competition is so much a part of who we are as people, not because it is reflective of the imago dei but because separated from the Spirit of God the Flesh drives us to an egocentricity that often goes unnoticed or worse is celebrated as the kind of behavior that brings success. Too often this false notion of success and the way it is achieved has, in my experience, been the underlying “wisdom” of ministry advice. We celebrate winners and eschew losers rather than celebrating Christ and eschewing selfishness. But choosing collaboration over competition requires, as you have alluded to here, a whole new way of thinking; one that is intellectually and emotionally consistent with the whole narrative of the scripture rather than based on a cut and paste theological reading of the text. So again, thank you for a wonderful post.
Ouch. I try not to do that, but yes, I’ve felt “competition” and jealousy before of others’ gifts….
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