I grew up, as they say, "in the church," meaning that it (church) has always been a part of my life. Church services, Sunday School, Bible School, church camp, and youth group: these were all activities that were part of my routine growing up. Not only that, but they were activities that I was expected to be involved in. No, I wasn't forced; it was just what I was supposed to do. It was what most of my friends did, too. And most of the people I knew, in fact.
So, it came as a bit of a surprise (but, really, not a huge shock) to me--about four or five years ago--when I realized that I don't really know very much about the Bible. For having grown up "in the church," I'm pretty dumb about church things. After coming to this realization, I began reading and attending what--at my church--is called Gathering Space (adult Christian education). I still don't know a lot (because, face it, there is A LOT to learn), but I do know a lot more than I did five years ago.
A couple of weeks ago I took a Spiritual Gifts class at my church. This was a wonderful class that has inspired me to learn more about Spiritual Gifts. Those of you who know me are well aware that when I find a subject I want to learn more about, I immediately invest a lot of time and energy (and, sometimes, money--depending on whether or not the books are available from the library) in reading whatever I can on the particular subject. My current quest, though, is not so much about the Spiritual Gifts themselves, but it is about figuring out how I can use mine.
In the class, we took an assessment to figure out what our strongest gifts are. My Spiritual Gifts weren't what I was expecting them to be...until I thought about it (and I'm still thinking about it); then, it made sense. My strongest gifts were assessed to be Faith, Mercy, and Discernment. (This doesn't mean these are my only gifts; it just means that they are, most likely, my strongest ones.)
(Not surprising to me was that my weakest gift was Evangelism. I was also relieved to know that this was okay (phew...) because we all have different gifts; God gave us each different gifts. It is necessary that we all have different gifts.)
"There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit." I Corinthians 12: 4-7.
We are to use our gifts with love: this is easy for me to understand. But, finding ways to use them is a little trickier for me. I think I use several of my gifts (including ones that I didn't rate as high on) when I tutor my adult student in reading and writing. Perhaps that explains why the two sessions per week of tutoring are often the high points of those days for me. It's when I'm tutoring that I know I'm doing something useful, something I'm excited about, and, better yet,...I'm doing something with joy and love, something I know I was meant to do.
(Now, I just have to work on doing something like that (making a difference, doing something useful and important, using my gifts) more than just two hours a week...!)