"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our Lord stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

27 February 2006

Christian Thumb Wars?

I moved to a new office today at work. As I was sifting through all my papers I found a print out of a Spiritual Gifts Test which I have mentioned here before. Since the topic of discernment has been discussed recently I started to read through the descriptions of the gifts to see if I could gain any wisdom.

I thought the descriptions were quite interesting as they paralleled some things I have said recently and I had to laugh when I read the description of my main gift as it fits me to a tee. I’d like to highlight two gifts in particular here: The Perceiver and The Encourager. I hope by looking at the differences between these two you can see how they could fall on opposite extremes on some issues. Yet God gave each of us our own gifts to be used in conjunction with other members of the body. (I list my own results at the end)

Descriptions Taken from www.gifttest.org:

The Perceiver
The first motivational gift in Romans 12 is the gift of perceiving. The Greek word for this gift is "propheteia". In scripture, we can see specific traits and behaviors of the gift of perceiving. They are: 1) the ability to interpret scripture, 2) to reveal information to others, and 3) an ability to speak the mind of God.

Perceivers have a keen sense of right and wrong. This is a form of discernment that we have seen in Christians and non-Christians alike. It is because of this sense of right and wrong that perceivers hold very high standards. They tend to be perfectionists because of their high standards and often become their own worst critics. In some cases, perceivers do not realize their gift and they can become very critical of other people or situations, which emerges as a pessimistic attitude.

The primary function of this gift is to reveal information the perceiver has discerned in a way that will help others. This information is not always positive and well received. As a result, perceivers sometimes appear direct, blunt, or inconsiderate of the feelings of others particularly when sharing this information with people possessing different motivational gifts. This is a classic case of the gift being misunderstood because their real intention is to help people.
In contrast, at times the primary function of the gift is not to reveal the information the perceiver has discerned – in these cases, God has allowed the perceiver to discern such things so they can pray about them. Often when people do not understand the purpose of this gift, they can feel (and become) judgmental instead of prayerful. Make no mistake about it, this information is purposefully shown to the perceiver for a reason!

The Encourager
The Greek root word for encouraging is "paraklesis". The scriptures show that the gift of encouragement will 1) edify and exhort 2) give peace to a troubled mind through speaking a message of encouragement and 3) bring joy and comfort.

Encouragers have the ability to call forth the best in others through encouragement and motivation. Thus naturally, people with the gift of encouragement feel comfortable around people and tend to have extraverted personalities. Anecdotal research shows that encouragers not only encourage others but also like to prescribe practical advice. Encouragers want to see people improve and succeed. They have an ability to bring new life to people who have lost their determination and feel burnt out.

Encouragers are good with every personality and gift. However, because encouragers are considerate of the feelings of others, they can easily be offended when people are not considerate toward them. Encouragers love to "fix" things and make the world a happier place!

Hmmm. “Perceivers sometimes appear direct, blunt, or inconsiderate of the feelings of others” while “Encouragers…can easily be offended when people are not considerate toward them”. So should the Perceiver not be so blunt or should the encourager not be so sensitive? I guess it depends on who you ask.

If you haven’t taken this test yourself, give it a try and find out which areas you are most gifted (you get a percentage for each of the 7 gifts). I found the descriptions very helpful in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of my own gifts and the gifts of others. Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries did a great series on the pros and cons of each spiritual gift recently but unfortunately the outlines don’t appear to be posted on their website (but I’m hoping they will show up).

My top gift was teaching and sounds just like me (some excerpts from www.gifttest.org):
“People with the gift of teaching are consummate debaters.”
“Teachers need to know the reasoning behind concepts or ideas. They do not take anything at face value. Teachers can appear argumentative while they are simply trying to gain further understanding.”

I do learn by debating as I need to understand the logic behind things before it sinks in for me. Some days I’m denser than others. I have also been misinterpreted as being argumentative so I have become a wee bit better at how I approach my “debates” (maybe I should change that "wee" to "teeny-tiny"...)

If you take the test stop back over and let me know your results!


Carol said...

Well, after reading this post, I was all about, "Yeah! I agree. The perceiver and the encourager descriptions totally make sense. Great test! I think I'll go take it."

So I took it and my results: The Ruler

"The sixth gift in Romans 12 is the gift of ruling. The Greek root word for leader is "proistemi," which translates "rule". The scriptures illustrate how a ruler will: 1) set good examples 2) provide sound counsel 3) give admonition and warning to the people of dangers they are headed toward 4) reprove for negligence and 5) rule with love versus rigor.

The behaviors of a ruler are similar to behaviors of the other six motivational gifts, which make this gift harder to identify. The difference is in the motivation. The objective of the ruler is to move everyone toward the common goal. Like the perceiver, the ruler will give admonition and warning of upcoming situations. Like the teacher, a ruler will provide sound counsel and instructive reasoning to convince the people of the common goal.

What makes the gift of ruling unique is the ability to see the "big picture". The ruler is intuitive, which enables the ruler to look ahead for possibilities and dangers. The ability to guide people and communicate to them regarding how to develop the "big picture" gives the ruler an assertive, take-charge attitude. So, naturally, rulers can appear bossy to other people who do not understand the ruler’s gift."

Personally, Carrie, I think I'm a couple inches short of a ruler. :-/

Carrie said...

Interesting! I think I tried to crown you the Queen Nut not too long ago. Does that count?

"Couple inches short of a ruler" - you're cute!

Corina Bowen said...

Mine was Encourager and the Server which fits right along with what I am doing with our Adopt A Block (which I love!)

The second motivational gift is the gift of service. The Greek word for service is "diakonia". Throughout the New Testament scriptures there are three specific behaviors or traits demonstrated. They are: 1) providing for the physical, material, or spiritual needs of people 2) taking care of the less fortunate in society such as the poor or the widowed and 3) helping in the distribution or collection of food, clothing, etc. to give to those in need.

Servers have an extraordinary ability to recognize tasks that need to be done. They are very cognizant of their surroundings. Perhaps this comes from their need to provide for others as seen in scripture. Servers are the first to lend a hand. Often they work in the background providing services that others will never see. Servers show their loyalty through action rather than words.

What motivates a server is helping someone else. Because servers have a tendency to prefer jobs in support roles, they are not usually in the forefront or public eye. They prefer to accomplish their tasks without an audience and therefore, their personalities tend to be more quiet and reserved. Unfortunately, some people interpret the reserved nature of a server and the desire to work behind the scenes as being uninterested. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Servers see the needs "behind the scenes," as essential to making things work on the "front lines."

eph2810 said...

First I like to thank you for sharing your results with us :) and second, thank you for the link :)...
My two top ones are:
Encourager (100) & Showing Mercy (72)...
This is really great material - maybe for a future post. :)

Carol said...

Oh, Iris is definitely an encourager! I just knew mine would either be server (scored way low on that) or teacher (a distant second).

Shows how much I know.
Queen Nut indeed! Hrumph!

Muley said...

Thanks for this great information! Is there a category for "the consumer" or "the jokester"? If so, I seem to fit one or the other of those most of the time.

Terri said...

Thanks for the link. Turns out I'm perceiver and mercy. The parts on the perceiver that are me are "perfectionist...your own worst critic". The part that didn't fit was the part about hurting others feelings with bluntness. Being Mercy as well helps me speak the truth without the harshness. I always thought it was something anyone with tact could do, but maybe I'm expecting too much?


Carrie said...

Thanks for sharing everyone.

Muley - a sense of humor always intrigues me as I haven't come across much humor in the bible.

Terri - You bring up an interesting point. You're combo of perceiver and mercy may keep you out of trouble. As someone with teacher and perceiver as my top gifts, I have to choose my words carefully so as not to offend others. Some days I choose better than others.

Christian Women Blogging

Articles for Christian Women