"Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful" (excerpt from I Corinthians 12:4-11, MSG).
A little less than a month ago, I wrote a blog post in which I asked the following question: how do people find meaningful activities/occupations in this lifetime? Three people responded thoughtfully (Thank you to them!), but I have to admit: my question didn't spark the conversation I'd hoped it might, which leaves me with new questions.
I hope the answer to one of these new questions isn't that most of the people I know are without a meaningful activity/occupation.
Because that would be depressing.
When I wrote the aforementioned blog post, I promised to answer my own question, and--after a morning of meaningful activity--I thought I'd take a few minutes to do so.
My meaningful occupation is staying home with my children, and I'm deeply thankful for the opportunity of it, but I would be lying if I said mothering, in and of itself, fulfills me. For one thing, I am very extroverted, and--although the mother of young children is rarely (if ever) alone--mothering can be extremely lonely.
All of my meaningful activities connect me with others. Several of them involve my serving others within the community, but don't think me someone I'm not because--as strange as it may sound--my serving is very nearly selfish. I am fed and fulfilled in serving.
A critical point in my journey toward happiness occurred after I identified my spiritual gift as being "mercy" and sought education and opportunities in pastoral care. I could write for a long time about what I've learned and experienced (and how I've grown), but, instead, I want to take the opportunity to promote self-understanding.
The more we understand how God has wired us, the more we can make use of our spiritual gifts, and the more fulfillment and peace we can experience.
Here are a couple examples of how self-understanding has really helped me over the past several years:
As I came to understand that my spiritual gift is mercy, and not teaching (as I had supposed), I came to understand why I have been both satisfied and dissatisfied as an English teacher/instructor. (I have been satisfied only in the teaching situations in which I have been able to express mercy, and in which it has been accepted and appreciated.)
Also. As I came to understand how much I need to connect with others to experience fulfillment, I came to evaluate my writing process in a new light. Writing for others works for me. Writing without sharing does not. Thus, I haven't managed to keep a journal since I was a girl. Now that I understand why, I've forgiven myself. I've also started assembling in my mind the group of people with whom I will share my screenplay. As I write it.
For scriptural reading on the topic of spiritual gifts, you might explore I Corinthians 12, Romans 12: 3-8, and Ephesians 4: 1-16. (For the record, I always start with the KJV but often proceed to read the same passage in other translations.)
Additionally, here is a quick, online test you might use in identifying your spiritual gift(s). It's not the test I took, initially, but--when I took it, just now--it provided results very close to my previous ones. After you identify your spiritual gift(s), you can click on "Define" and/or "Uses" for your higher-numbered results, or you might google "spiritual gift exhortation" or whatever your specific gift(s) for a better understanding.
Be sure to comment or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org); I'll be anxious to hear what you've learned!