Why do Christians see and evaluate needs differently?
A Christian’s motivational spiritual gift shapes his perspective on life. Depending on the gifting of an individual (prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, organizing, or mercy), his view of a situation will vary.
None of us sees “the whole picture.” We need to hear the perspectives of others to gain wisdom and understanding about the situations we face. When Christians identify and understand their motivational gifts and are alert to the gifts of others, they will gain wisdom about their own reactions and the reactions of those around them. These insights will help the group work together toward a common goal, despite their differences. They can appreciate and learn from one another.
For instance, let’s suppose that in a church board meeting, someone proposed giving $1,000 to a missionary. One person expressed frustration, another person immediately and enthusiastically voiced his approval of the proposal, and a third person responded with questions (which seemed unnecessary or inappropriate to many who were present). When each of these persons heard the request, he simply responded according to his unique perspective—his motivational spiritual gift.
The Server’s Response
The server, Mr. Jones, initially was frustrated by the thought of giving away $1,000 to someone who was not even a member of the church, because Mr. Jones had just spent four weekends in a row participating in a fund-raiser for the youth group—to raise $500 for a missions trip!
His reaction of frustration was not a rejection of the needy missionary nor the person who wanted to bless the missionary. Mr. Jones was thinking about the fact that none of the other board members present had been at any of those weekend fund-raisers, and he wanted reassurance that they all realized what a “costly” decision this was. He knew how much time and effort and hard work the gift actually represented, because he’d just invested a lot of his time, effort, and hard labor to raise half that amount of money.
Mr. Jones also wondered why none of them had shown up at the fund-raiser car washes—didn’t they see the need, or was he the only one who was sensitive to real needs? He is viewing the situation through the perspective of a server, who is driven to demonstrate love by meeting practical needs, usually through tangible work (as opposed to explaining, teaching, discussing, giving, or organizing).
Is the server’s perspective legitimate? Absolutely! However, his perspective is not the only one that is important. All perspectives of all the gifts are important—and needed.
The Giver’s Response
The giver in the group, Mr. Smith, immediately responded enthusiastically when the gift was proposed. He had recently made two trips to the Congo, where the missionary was serving the Lord, and Mr. Smith knew firsthand about many of the critical needs there. (Incidentally, Mr. Smith had financed both of those missions trips out of his own pocket, as an expression of his love for the Lord.)
The person with the motivational gift of giving is driven to conserve and share resources in order to meet needs. Since Mr. Smith was already keenly aware of the missionary’s needs, he rejoiced that the Lord was providing for those needs through the church and saw no need to evaluate or discuss the decision further.
The Organizer’s Response
Mr. Adams, who has the motivational gift of organizing, responded to the proposal by asking questions—lots of them. An organizer is driven to carry out projects by recruiting workers, organizing tasks, or delegating responsibilities. He doesn’t usually do the job, but he sees that the job gets done.
It was true that Mr. Adams hadn’t shown up at any of the car washes. However, what Mr. Jones didn’t know was that it was Mr. Adams who had come up with the idea in the first place! He had contacted the local gas station to request permission for their church members to conduct a car wash there. He also had organized the work schedule and the donation of all necessary supplies, such as soap and sponges. Mr. Adams asked lots of questions, because he was seeing the need from the perspective of his motivational gift: organizing.
Learn to Appreciate Each Response
Christians perceive and respond to needs from different perspectives. When these three men responded to the proposal—very differently—all three of them were reflecting different aspects of the heart of the Lord.
All three responses were legitimate. All three of these perspectives were needed, as were the insights and cautions of those with the gifts of prophecy, exhortation, mercy, and teaching.
When each believer uses his gift to evaluate an issue at hand, the full mind of Christ can be revealed about the situation. Each one should walk according to the Spirit (submitting to the direction of the Holy Spirit in behavior that reflects the truth of God’s Word), and not according to the flesh (making decisions determined by his sinful nature). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
When Christians work together, using their gifts and appreciating the gifts of others, much can be accomplished for the kingdom of God. Tasks will be accomplished with greater efficiency and the people involved will participate with minimum weariness. God has given the gifts to the Church to equip her for service and help her mature to be like Christ—let’s put those gifts to work!
The articles on spiritual gifts have been developed from a variety of sources, including the booklet, Understanding Spiritual Gifts.
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