A Christian’s motivational spiritual gift functions like a pair of eyeglasses: it enhances his spiritual vision in a manner prescribed specifically for him by His Creator. It equips him to see life in the way God wants him to see life.
God has purposely distributed the gifts among His children rather than giving each of us all of the spiritual gifts. We need each other, and we need all of the perspectives reflected by the seven motivational gifts: prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting, organizing, giving, and mercy.
The following illustrations demonstrate how the gifts focus on different areas of life. Each one “sees” a unique set of needs and can share a unique perspective.
How the Gifts Respond to a Dropped Dessert
Imagine that all seven motivational gifts are represented in a group that met for dinner, and someone dropped the dessert on the floor. Here are possible responses from each gift and explanations of what would motivate their words.
- A prophet might say: “That’s what happens when you’re not careful!” (Motivation: To correct the problem)
- A server might say: “Oh, let me help you clean it up.” (Motivation: To meet a need)
- A teacher might say: “It fell because it was too heavy on one side, which could have been avoided if you’d checked the balance of the dish when you made the dessert or before you lifted it from the counter.” (Motivation: To discover why it happened)
- An exhorter might say: “Next time, serve the dessert from a different dish, and then everything will be alright.” (Motivation: To encourage and prepare for the future)
- A giver might say: “I’ll be happy to buy a new dessert.” (Motivation: To give to meet a tangible need)
- An organizer might say: “Jim, would you get the mop? Sue, please help pick it up, and Mary, come help me fix another easy dessert.” (Motivation: To help the group work together to achieve their immediate goal)
- A mercy might say: “Don’t feel badly. It could have happened to anyone.” (Motivation: To comfort the person responsible for the mess and offer sympathy)
What the Gifts Say to a Friend in the Hospital
If seven Christians, each of whom had a different motivational gift, visited a sick friend in the hospital, the following examples indicate how each of them might respond based on the perspective of his or her motivational spiritual gift.
- A prophet might say: “I’m concerned about your situation. Do you know what God is trying to say to you through this illness? Is there some sin in your life that you need to confess and forsake?”
- A server might say: “Here’s a little gift—I remembered how much you enjoyed this CD when you were at my house last year, and I thought you might enjoy listening to it when you get to feeling a little better. Don’t worry about a thing at home, because I’ve taken care of your mail, watered your plants, washed your dishes, and I’m taking your laundry home with me when I leave the hospital. I asked your neighbor if she would be willing to keep an eye on your house and feed your dog while you’re in the hospital, and she was happy to take care of those things. Is there anything else I can do for you while you’re laid up?”
- A teacher might say: “I did some research about your illness and conferred with your doctor when I saw him out at the nurses’ station. I believe I can help you understand exactly what the problem is and how the medical staff plans to treat it.”
- An exhorter might say: “It is exciting that God has given you this opportunity to trust Him! Even though you don’t have insurance, I’m confident God will meet your need abundantly, because He loves you and He has promised to meet all of our needs. Aren’t you excited!? How can we use what you’re learning now to help others in the future?”
- A giver might say: “I understand that you don’t have any medical insurance. I am sorry to hear that, but I want you to know that you don’t need to worry about paying your hospital bills. I have already made arrangements with the hospital to pay your expenses. In fact, I made them fully aware of your situation and asked if they would be willing to reduce your bill, and they agreed to reduce it by 60% if the entire amount is paid quickly. I would have preferred to meet this need anonymously, but as I pondered the situation, I felt the Lord directing me to go ahead and let you know about His provision, so that you can concentrate on getting well and not on how you are going to pay these big hospital bills.”
- An organizer might say: “Well, my friend, your assignment is to get well—as fast as possible! Don’t worry about the Jamison Project you were handling either. I’ve distributed your responsibilities among the other team members, and they’re reporting to me daily. Hurry up and get out of here so that you can help me get the Fredrickson Project started!”
- A mercy might say: “Oh, you poor dear, I was so sad to hear about your troubles. How are you feeling today? Any better? Can I get you anything—a blanket or a cold washcloth for your forehead? Are you hungry? Oh, I’m so, so sorry about this. Let me pray for you right now.”
What the Gifts See in a Testimony
Below is an excerpt from Russell Kelfer’s book, Discovering Your Spiritual Gift, in which he offers a simple description of how a person with each motivational gift would regard a testimony. Each gift perceives how the testimony affects his particular area of expertise.
- To the prophet, a testimony is primarily about how someone handles sin.
- To the server, a testimony is primarily about how someone handles availability.
- To the teacher, a gift is primarily about how someone handles doctrine.
- To the exhorter, a testimony is primarily about how someone handles trials.
- To the organizer, a testimony is primarily about how someone delegates successfully.
- To the giver, a testimony is primarily about how someone handles resources.
- To the merciful, a testimony is primarily about how someone responds to hurt.
- As you can see, the different motivational gifts provide unique perspectives on life. Each one has valuable thoughts to share, and by receiving insights from each one, we will gain wisdom and understanding.
“For the body is not one member, but many. . . . If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. . . . And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary” (I Corinthians 12:14–22).