Gifting Etiquette for Spiritual Gifts & Other Kinds
I heard one sentence last week that made me stop and reflect on why I do certain things.
The speaker, and I truly do not remember who it was, said: "if we are sharing our gifts to expect a response back then we are only using our gifts for ourselves."
It made me stop and go "hmmmm" for a long time.
If I am giving you a gift - a birthday present, a wedding or baby gift. I am giving it to you to without any strings attached. I am expecting that you will like it or even love it but when I walk away - the gift I have given you is "yours". Even if you do not like it or you return my gift in order to get the cash back - it is your gift to do whatever you want with.
But if I give you my gift and want you to "ohhh" and "ahhh" over it - making "me" feel better in the process then it is not a gift for you, it is a gift for myself - to make me feel better.
The "hmmmm" for me came when I put this concept into spiritual gifts. God has given each of us spiritual gifts to use for the betterment of others. He commands us to use them and by using them to draw other people to Himself.
If I am called to "preach" or "write" something, then I need to do it because I am being obedient to the call, exercising the gifts that God has given me. If I do it because I want your praise or my pride gets inflated in the process - it ceases to be a spiritual gift because I have now turned it into something for myself.
The story that comes to mind is the Bible story of the managers of the talents. A man was going away on a journey and called his managers in and entrusted his money to them. A talent was a sum of money - a large sum. To one he gave 5 talents, to another he gave 2 talents and to the last he gave 1.
When he came back, the 1st manager with the 5 talents had earned his master 5 more. The 2nd with 2 talents had earned 2 more. The last manager was afraid and hid the 1 talent he had received and did nothing with it. It was taken from him and given to the one who had 5 and he was punished because he had not even put it in the bank to accumulate interest and he was called a lazy and slothful servant (Matthew 25:14-30).
What about us? Are we using the gifts that God has given us to "earn more"? By that I mean are we using the gifts to build up those around us, to encourage, and help or are we squirreling them away until the "right time" or "when I get time" or "I am afraid of what others might say"?
Our gifts were not given to us, "for us" - they have to be shared; from my writing perspective and the others writers I am involved with - there is no "right time" ever to write - if you do not just do it you will probably never write. If you play music - you know you have to practice continually and find an audience. If it is in encouraging others, you have to connect with others to use that gift but you have to make contact.
What kind of manager will you be with the gifts God has bestowed on you? A wise manager who invests and reaps dividends or the scared manager who was to afraid to try and squirreled away his gift instead of using it.