A Variety of Gifts

Wildflowers on Canyon Ridge, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington
Wildflowers on Canyon Ridge, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

When I go for a hike, it’s fun to see the variety of scenery along the way.  There are usually trees (unless I’m in the desert), but not all of the trees are alike.  Then I cross a stream, and maybe there’s a waterfall.  The stream is in a valley, which is different than the hilltop I’m climbing to.  Views stretch away to other hills and valleys.  Along the way, I might even see wildflowers, various animals, or other features unique to the trail.

Siyeh Creek, Glacier National Park, Montana
Siyeh Creek, Glacier National Park, Montana

No two trails are quite the same as to what you’ll see along the way.  But unless the trail is only about 10 feet long, chances are you’ll see more than one kind of feature as you hike.  It’s one of the fun things about hiking: you never know exactly what you’ll see next.

Not what I expected to find - a potash settling basin along the Potash Road, Utah
Not what I expected to find – a potash settling basin along the Potash Road, Utah

When most people talk about spiritual gifts, they’ll insinuate that you have one primary gift.  This is useful in the way of definitions, pigeonholes, and teaching, but it’s not practical in real life.  I’ve yet to meet a person who only had one gifting on their lives.  Maybe the gift of leadership was dominant and primary, but that doesn’t mean that the person didn’t also have a strong gift of, say, hospitality that was aiding and abetting the leadership gifting.

Some gifts go well together, so you’re likely to see a person with both – sometimes so intertwined that it’s hard to figure out which gift is primarily at work.  The gift of prophecy and the words of knowledge work hand-in-hand, and many prophets also have strong giftings in decerning of spirits and the interpreting of tongues.  Teachers frequently also have gifts in the area of words of wisdom and exhortation.  Service gifts and hospitality gifts and the gift of helps are often found working together.

Tower Arch from the North Window, Arches National Park, Utah
Tower Arch from the North Window, Arches National Park, Utah

Like a hike with only identical waterfalls, over and over and over, so is a person with only one gifting.  In other words, it rarely happens.  You and I have been given several gifts to use for the glory of God and the building up of those around us (1 Corinthians 12:7).  When used under the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:6), these gifts work together (instead of warring with each other) to make us a unique person distinctively able to do God’s work.

Marymere Falls, Olympic National Park, Washington
Marymere Falls, Olympic National Park, Washington

If you’ve ever been told that you only have one gift, revisit the spiritual gifts.  (A good summary of the Gifts of the Spirit can be found here.)  Chances are there are other gifts also operating under the surface that are helping the primary gift in your life shine.