Human Talents and Spiritual Gifts
The Rev. Rob Courtney
Fr. Rob is the rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church & School
Our sermon series Epiphany—A Season of Self-Discovery continues, and this past Sunday Mtr. Liz preached about our identity as part of a community, and the roles we play within our communities. Our identity as children of God through the power of the Spirit that we gain at baptism also identifies us as part of the Christian community. Within that community, “My gifts carry you. Your gifts carry me,” she quotes one author as saying. “It is God’s intention that we rely on each other, that we need each other.”* Mtr. Liz points out that in the story of Jesus’ miracle at the wedding at Cana in John 2, “God uses the gifts of the gathered community to make the miracle happen.” The water changes to wine by Jesus’ power, but it also comes about through his mother’s persistence, the stewards who carried the water jars, and the headwaiter who shares the good news of the miracle with the wedding party. Mtr. Liz helps us see that when we use our gifts within community, “miracles happen.”
One challenge we have in learning about ourselves is the discovery of our own giftedness. We all have gifts to share. Thinking on this reminds me of a book by the Episcopal priest Lloyd Edwards called Discerning Your Spiritual Gifts. There are a couple of things he says in this book about gifts that have always stuck with me. One is that there is no difference between natural talents and “spiritual gifts” other than conversion. Once we begin to see our own human talents as gifts from God we can really begin to use them in God’s service—not just in the Church, but in the world. Edwards says that when “I am using my abilities in God’s service . . . they are spiritual gifts.” What are you truly good at? No matter what it is, it is a spiritual gift if you are using it to bring you closer to God, and to build up others.
Edwards also points his readers to a powerful quotation from Frederick Buechner who famously wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Again, when we are using the things we’re good at—which usually revolve around things that bring us joy and fulfillment—in the service of God, and in a way that meets the deep hunger of the world around us, we are using our spiritual gifts.
Have you ever thought of your talents as spiritual gifts? Have you ever used them in a way that you believe was God-focused and brought you deep fulfillment?
Listen to Mtr. Liz’s full sermon here on our YouTube channel, and join us this Sunday for part 3 of our series.
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