A merciful heart for all people. Would give you the shirt off her back. Capable leader. Encouraging to others with an aura of peaceful acceptance. Wise and patient teacher. Meek and soft-spoken woman of God.
Skeptical. Brazen. A little too honest. Calls individuals out on their wrongs. Rude. Blunt. And permanently stamped by our society with the all-time, most misunderstood and infamous label – judgmental.
The first time I heard about spiritual gifts when I was about twenty-six. I had only been a Christian for about 4 years and was chomping at the bit to figure out what my spiritual gifts were.
Aside from brown eyes, a love for all things ornithological, and a passion for crocheting, to think that God personally blessed me with a spiritual gift since birth was exhilarating. My one true calling was to be laced with a special gift to enhance my walk to glorify Jesus!
And then I took the test.
Discernment. With a small side of Craftsmanship and a spoonful of Faith. I was puzzled. Frustration set in.
And where was my “pretty” spiritual gift?
My waitressing days in college had prepared me to serve others hospitably with everything from enchiladas to spilt iced tea. Leading a small group of ladies or dogs was not a problem, and I received affirmation from others that I was capable. Giving gifts is my love language, hands down!
As my spiritual gift was unfolding in front of me, a wave of overwhelming dread mixed with fear swept over me with incredible force once I started researching a textbook description of spiritual discernment:
- Distinguishing between spirits
- Recognizing the motive behind circumstances
- Immediately “knowing” whether a person’s true intention is good or bad
My fervor for sharing and growing this gift waned quickly, resulting in spiritually running the other direction, chasing what I thought to be more pleasing, socially admired gifts. This lasted for fourteen years.
Right after I turned forty, I attended a women’s worship night at my church. I sang, I praised, I laughed. A lady who I held in high regard in our church who was leading the women’s worship night gently picked up the microphone and sweetly described the night’s subject we were about to discuss.
My head irked. I felt my eye twitch. I thought surely my gift had changed because I had changed, knowing that I was not the same person I was the first time I took this test, so let’s go… but my gut was nagging me.
Fifteen minutes later, I sat and stared at the results of the “new” test, whose black and white words echoed a very familiar black and white answer.
Something told me I was not going to outrun my circumstances this time.
I couldn’t help feel a tiny wave of green-tinted disappointment wash over me as I quietly questioned, “Are you sure, Lord… Hospitality, Giving, Mercy… those all sound much nicer.”
I enjoyed discussing spiritual gifts with all kinds of people, and learning about the *sparkly* gifts that had not been in God’s design for me. I couldn’t wrap my head around the feeling as if I were walking along a dry desert of inequity.
My focus broke as one of my friends beamed at her results, “Oh, WOW – I got Compassion!” And it fits her. She’s blonde, sweet, beautiful and always smiling. Always.
Another lady across the room beamed, “I love this, it was spot ON. Serving others is such a passion of mine!” Okay, I don’t even know you, but can you get a sister a diet coke? I’m negotiating with God over here.
But the hits kept fluttering around the room, ladies giggling and glowing excitedly at the “pretty” spiritual gifts their test results had revealed.
To top it off, another friend of mine looked over my shoulder, smirked and said rather flatly, “Well look what you got. Totally fits.” She got Encouragement. Interesting.
Before I could finish uttering a response, the merciful leader lady reached for the microphone again and flowed into a melodic series of instructions for each of us to divide into groups, according to our spiritual gift. I stood up, grabbed my purse and moseyed over to my designated side of the sanctuary.
The “D-List” corner.
As I was finding my way amongst the Mercy girls, the Leadership ladies, and the gracious Givers, I cringed at the fact that I might be one of the lowly few women with the same, odd-girl-out gift.
I found a chair and settled into my station. Another lady sat down. And then a few more until there were about forty of us. All different ages, different backgrounds and hair color. My heart secretly lept – I was not alone! For years, I thought I was isolated in every church I ever attended. With this gift: my spiritual discernment gift.
Before long the “D-Listers” were comparing stories:
- Consistently described as blunt
- Accused of being skeptical and rude
- Unwavering distrust of certain individuals within seconds of meeting them
- Carried a heightened sense of knowing when danger or foreboding evil was present
- The first to sniff out a fake
God never makes mistakes. I struggled for too many years with the notion that I was burdened with a spiritual gift that scared and intimidated me. It also fascinated me and proved time and time again it saved my neck or someone else’s throughout my life.
I didn’t think it was a pretty, more desirable gift. Far from it. It is a vital gift. As is everyone’s gift.
Discerners are part of the church, the body of Christ, working alongside those whose blessed with Healing, Prophesy, Exhortation, together for the good of His kingdom.
A watchdog for false teachers and doctrine.
A blunt and skeptical watchdog.
I sipped my Diet Coke and smiled. I had a lot of work to do.