Today’s blog continues to explore the gifts of the Holy Spirit (charisms) – the uniquely creative way in which God seeks to be known in the world through us and the magic through which we are vessels for God’s transformative love in the world. A charism is not, however, to be confused with a gift or a talent. Talents are something we learn. Charisms are something with which we are endowed. The mark of a true charism is in its effortless accomplishment and in its miraculous fruits. When we are engaged in our charism, we find that the work of doing it is effortless and the results are far beyond what we know ourselves to be humanly capable of. The reason for this is that when engaged in our charism, it is not ourselves who are doing the work, but God doing it through us.Today, we specifically examine the charisms of pastoring, prophecy, service and teaching.
The Charism of Pastoring
A woman or man with the charism of pastoring, is uniquely gifted to nurture the relationships and long-term spiritual growth and connectedness of a group. Pastoring, in a Christian sense, is often associated with a priest, bishop or even the pope, but can be present within any individual working within a faith community who has the gift of building community and a sense of interconnectedness. Pastoring, however, is not limited to religious communities and is often witnessed in any work or even family environment when one person has a remarkable capacity for building a sense of community and connection within a group of people. Pastoring is similar to the charism of leadership, except that the latter is directed toward moving the group toward the accomplishment of a task, the former is specifically directed toward building a sense of community.
The Charism of Prophecy
To speak of the charism of prophecy, I will borrow from Albert Nolan’s amazing book, Jesus Today:
“Defining the prophet:
Prophets are people who speak out when others remain silent. They are watchful of the areas in need of reform in their own society, their own country, or their own religious institutions. True prophets are men and women who stand up and speak (or act) out about the practices of their own people and their own leaders – while others remain silent. True prophets are not part of the authority structure. Prophets are never appointed, ordained or anointed by the religious establishment. They experience a special calling that comes directly from God, and their message comes from their own personal experience of God. (Thus says the Lord) Any attempts to practice the same spirituality of Jesus would entail learning how to speak out boldly as he did – and face the consequences.”
- Ability to read the sign of the timesProphets are typically people who can foretell the future, not as fortune-tellers, but as people who have learned to read the signs of the times. Prophets are able to see where it is all heading.
- Devoted to a life of prayerProphets experience not only a special calling from God, but also a special closeness to God that enables them to understand God’s feelings and thoughts about what is happening and what will happen in the future. It is this mystical experience of union with God that enables them to speak on God’s behalf.A life of constant prayer and contemplation is required to cultivate this union.
Through the Holy Spirit, prophets are empowered to speak God’s truth freely, openly and without reservation, even in the face of sure persecution.
The Charism of Service
What distinguishes one with the gift of charism is their sense of personal responsibility to a task. Uninterested in delegating a task to another, they prefer to do it themselves – typically because they are usually the only one who sees the task that needs to be accomplished and because the tasks they see as needing to be done are usually quite simple and practical in nature. Additionally, those with the charism of service are not interested in accomplishing someone else’s work, they see themselves as filling in the gaps between what leaders and administrators seek to accomplish and what leaders and administrators often fail to see. The tasks of a server are usually simple – seeing that a volunteer failed to show up and stepping in to do their task, remembering to set out extra toilet paper rolls for a large event, making signs to help direct people to a conference, getting a glass of water for a conference speaker. Servers see the little things that need to be done and they do them.
The Charism of Teaching
The charism of teaching empowers one to help others learn information and skills that help them to reach their fullest potential as a human being. Teachers are voracious learners themselves and are constantly looking for ways to share what they have learned with others. One can affirm the charism of teaching within themselves by the way in which others learn through their teaching. The learning effect is the true mark of a teacher.
Lauri Ann Lumby is an ordained interfaith minister, spiritual director and author. Lauri works with individuals in the fulfillment of their greatest potential, which includes the discovery and cultivation of their charisms. To set up a personal session, call (920) 230-1313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.