ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: A COMMUNITY OF GIFTS

By James M. Decker

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 
–1 Peter 4:10-11

As a Christian, I’ve found that spiritual gifts are a topic we need to discuss more, and discuss more often. A simple definition is that spiritual gifts are the specific abilities and gifts given to individual persons to use for the good of others and the world around them.

If you’ve never thought too much about it, it’s very simple: different people have differing abilities and each should use their own ability accordingly. Some people have a gift for music. I am not that person. Others have a gift for service. Still others are well suited for teaching. Some are gifted at leadership, some at giving, and so on.

In short, spiritual gifts are the individual tools that we use to make an impact. A proper discussion of spiritual gifts requires honest self-reflection and examination. What you *wish* to be your spiritual gift may not be the gift you actually possess. It is important to use what you have, rather than waste it wishing for something else. It’s also important to remember that no gift is better than the other. Each gift is very different, but vitally important. A church needs singers, but a church full of singers with no teachers and servants would be lacking.

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And so I wonder…have we ever considered the concept of community-oriented gifts? What specific abilities and gifts do we each possess, individually, that we can use for the good of the community around us and the people of the community?

Have you ever thought about your own community-oriented gifts? Much like spiritual gifts, some have the gift of service within the community—the worker bee who stays behind the scenes but makes every event functional. Others are gifted with leadership, to seek elected office or other leadership roles and use that position to inspire and lead others. Some have the gift of giving through financial resources—they can donate to good causes or finance new businesses. Others have a gift and passion for culture—perhaps they want to see the community grow its arts and culture, so they take on a leadership role in spearheading new cultural offerings.

A church with all servants and no leaders would not function very well. A town with all leaders and no servants won’t function well either. Much like all the cogs in a machine, a well-run church or community needs each cog doing the best for what it was designed to do.

We were each designed to do something great in our community. What I’m designed for is different than what you’re designed for, but both are equally important cogs specifically designed for a purpose. Have we ever engaged in self-reflection to examine our community-oriented gifts? Have we talked with others to plan out how our individual gifts might come together for the betterment of the community at large? Perhaps we should.

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James Decker is a lawyer, farmer, and mayor in Stamford, Texas, and the creator of the forthcoming “West of 98” podcast and website. He may be contacted through Facebook at facebook.com/james.decker.

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