Gifts of the Holy Spirit Part 2

The Motivational Gifts

In the previous article we looked at the 1 Corinthians Gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the Manifestations of the Holy Spirit.


In this article we take a look at another list of gifts of the Holy Spirit, often called the “Motivational Gifts” because they speak to what motivates us in our personality to serve the Lord.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:5-8

As with all of Paul's teaching on spiritual gifts, this passage is set in the context of the Body of Christ. Paul is determined to make the point that regardless of the ways in which the Holy Spirit empowers individuals, the gifts are meant to be exercised within the corporate oversight of the local church. They are not given to elevate certain people or to empower solitary christians.

The language of this passage is different to 1 Corinthians 12 where the manifestations refer to graces given for a particular need. Here Paul is using the language of individual gifts. These gifts remain with us. They are “hard wired” into our personality. They are characteristics which, when used to the glory of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit, become gifts for the Body of Christ.

This is the God-given ability to see beneath the surface of things. As 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” The person with the gift of prophecy has that ability to see into the hearts of others.

My wife Margaret has this gift which she calls insight. She sees what motivates people, what they are thinking or planning. She understands more about other people than most of us.

These people can come across as being judgemental because they speak the uncomfortable truths about us that we don't like to hear.

Some people love to serve others. They are not necessarily the up-front people who lead from the front but they make a church function smoothly. They see what needs to be done and do it. They are the people who go the extra mile and do more than their fair share just because things need to be done.

Servants often become influential without necessarily having a formal leadership role. Because they are always giving of themselves to others, they win the hearts of the people they serve.

Teachers have the ability to take complex subjects and explain them in a simple way. They take boring subjects and make them interesting. They are passionate about passing on information and making it accessible to others.

Teachers are readers. They are always explaining things or sharing fascinating bits of information.

Wise teachers know that teaching is more than transmitting information. They model behaviour and demonstrate attitudes.

An encourager sees the positive in every situation. They have the ability to communicate enthusiasm even when failure seems inevitable. As the Titanic is sinking they will say what a boon it will be for future people to make sure that there are more lifeboats on ships, or how this tragedy has brought them all together.

While everyone is focussing on a narrow field of view, encouragers can often see a bigger picture and remind people that God's purposes are bigger than we can see.

Some people have the ability to give away huge amounts of money and to share their possessions extravagantly. They see their role as contributing physical resources. These are the people who buy gifts for no reason, who buy two of every appliance or power tool because they know they will give one away before long. They finance the needs of the church and of charities.

Givers are not the people who live in the best houses or drive expensive cars. They often don't have the best paying jobs. They do know how to make money go around and how to make it available to others.

Leaders see how the resources of a group are best mobilised to meet a need. They are very good at delegating because they can make a good match between the needs of a job and the gifts of the people present.

Leaders can describe a vision or a need and how to meet that goal. They plan and work out details, they share their visions over and over until they know that everyone understands and has appropriated it.

Mercy people are empathisers. They know how others feel in a situation and they respond to those feelings. They are the people who reach out to the grieving and celebrate with happy people.

Their goal in life is to keep people as happy as possible. They bring a balance to the other gifts in reminding us that people are important- more important than our goals or facts. They stop the rest of the church from getting lost in plans and programmes and pull us up to consider the individuals who make up the Body. They are, in many ways, the glue that holds a group together.

What Motivational Gifts Do You Have?

Most people have a mixture of motivational gifts with one or two dominant over the others. Many of us, though, are unsure about our gifts.

Here is a story to help you work out your motivational gifts. As you read the story try to put yourself right into it and think about your own reactions. Some people find this hard- they want to cover all the bases, say “well it depends on who is there” or make the story more complex than it needs to be. Just focus on your gut reaction.

Imagine you are at a friend's house for a dinner party. The first course was just scrumptious and everyone is having a great time together. The hostess goes to the kitchen to fetch the piece de resistance- the dessert. She comes back carrying the creation high above her head balanced on one hand. The inevitable happens- she trips, and the dessert and the plate come crashing to the floor.

So in this situation, what do you do? What is your reaction?

If you don't have a reaction, re-read the story and really try to imagine the situation.

Here is how the different motivational gifts play out. Which one most closely fits your reaction?

You tell the person “I knew that was going to happen. Just a little too much pride there, and pride comes before a fall”-- prophetic person.

You quickly drop to the floor and start collecting the bits, then go and vacuum the floor and do the washing up- servant

While you are helping pick up the bits you remember how you were reading this article about how many people drop desserts at dinner parties and ways to avoid this- teacher

You comment about how everyone was full anyway, and isn't it great that we can help each other in cleaning up- encourager

You quietly slip a $50 note into the hostess's hand so she can buy a replacement platter- giver

You work out the best way to deal with the situation, directing people to different parts of the clean-up- leader.

You sense the embarrassment of the hostess and give her a big hug- mercy

Because we are all on a spectrum with a combination of motivational gifts, your reaction(s) may not be the same as described here. The way we respond in these spontaneous and unusual events does give us insight into what our motivational gifts are.

The Corruption of the Gifts

Because these gifts are a part of who we are and are there regardless of our relationship with God, they are open to being corrupted by sin.
Prophecy becomes judgement. Servants can be self-pitying or demanding that others pull their weight. Teachers can become lost in their own interests and consumed with trivia. Encouragers can become people-pleasing always playing for the approval of others. Givers can use their entrepreneurial abilities to feather their own nest or become miserly. Leaders can become despots. Mercy people can be burnt out by the emotional needs of others.

We need to be aware of our gifts and also aware of their potential to be side-tracked by sin.