Gifts to do our missions: Listening for them
Everyone has gifts from God. These are gifts that the Lord gives you in special combinations and strengths to help you to do the work you are called to do. Do not be limited by what you have heard of the gifts listed by Paul in Romans, 1st Corinthians, and Ephesians in the New Testament. Those were his words for gifts in the church life of the first century and can be a bit difficult to grasp and use. Since we recognize that all skills and talents are gifts from God, we see gifts in all of the areas of daily life, not just church life. And we will use today’s words as we talk about them. We might talk about the gifts of:
Advocacy – defending an oppressed person
Coaching – working with a girls’ softball team in town
Communication – editing a political party’s newsletter
Imagination – finding ways to teach environmental awareness
Intuition – sensing the needs of one’s teenagers at home
Monitoring – helpful oversight of others
Organization – pulling together the staff of an office, coordinating the work of a car repair shop, or computer maintenance work
Self – Knowledge – aware of both one’s talents and one’s limits
Welcoming – seeing the visitor meets others at coffee hour at church
There are many types of gifts and ways to discover them. In this activity, you will identify the gifts you already have and/or the gifts you will need to carry out your missions. Remember, gifts can be developed and honed so don’t worry if you feel you lack the gifts needed to do your missions. If God gave you the mission, then you will also be given the skills to accomplish it – or a partner who has those gifts. You may even find that you have gifts you did not know you had simply because you hadn’t used them until a specific mission brought them into play.
The following activity is best done in pairs or trios. Another’s perspective can help you to clarify the gifts you already have and/or are needed in your mission fields. So do this with your partner or divide your small group if you have one. If you’re working alone, pray and ask God to lead you as you reflect on the gifts you already have or the gifts you will need for a particular mission. Just remember to use today’s words for the gifts you will hear at work in each person’s story.
Activity: Listening for God’s gifts
For Small Groups:
1. Form pairs or trios composed of people who know each other less well.
2. Each person picks his/her most important daily mission and describes it in more detail. The others tell what gifts they see at work in what is being done and/or what gifts will be needed to carry out the person’s mission.
3. As each person finishes sharing, the small group or pair prays for the increase of the gifts already in use by that person and for God to give him or her the gifts that will be needed. This can happen through the development of his or her own gifts or through the addition of a partner with these gifts. End with asking for God’s blessing on all of that person’s daily missions. Recall that God blesses us by being present to help us (see Blessing, Claus Westermann, Fortress Press, 1978).
4. As a whole group, discuss “What are some of our feelings, learnings, or questions about our gifts for our daily missions?”
If working alone, pray for God to lead you. Imagine yourself carrying out the mission. Then see the gifts you already have that are at work in what you are doing and list them. Thank God for them. Next, see what gifts are at work that are beyond what you already have. These are the gifts to pray for.
We keep struggling with evil. God – Jesus – the Holy Spirit – the church – the sacraments – the Bible – these are our anchors and places of safety and love. Still, Jesus sends us on mission – “He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two” (Mark 6:7). And, we are given the gifts we need to carry out our missions. Drawing on God’s gifts, we, too, will cast out the demons of hard hearts and mean people and mean governments and exploitative corporations.