Friday, October 8, 2010


Everyone loves a good gift.

Having celebrated my birthday yesterday, I had the pleasure of opening some gifts and finding things inside that I absolutely loved and needed. I felt extremely spoiled (especially with the 32GB iPhone 4 I received), but also appreciated and loved by those who gave them to me (in yesterday's case: my family).

I have to say that my favorite kind of gift is one that I can share with or use to help other people. I honestly think my iPhone 4 is just that as it allows my ever-so-busy j_high leadership team the chance to get communication to and with me, and fast. E-mail, texts, phone calls, pdf files, word documents, contact information, important/informative Tweets, service orders, itemized lists for the games, directions, meetings, etc.; they are all able to be dispatched and received immediately. It's remarkable, and something I feel isn't just there for my enjoyment, but also a tool that helps those serving with me to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

In the same way we have physical gifts, we are also imbued with spiritual giftings: skills and inner workings that provide us with a specific advantage. It is an honor and a privilege to have these giftings, but also even greater to recognize and hone it further for greater and more concise use. I know that one of my most prominent giftings is discernment: a gift that other members of my family possess and that allows me to be a lot more empathetic to others or be able to "feel them out." It has been a real treasure to see this gifting grow and be applicable in so many real-time, real-world situations and I truly cherish possessing it.

Now, I digress. Famed comic book hero Spider-man used to have a great mantra he often repeated about being a superhero. His Uncle Ben had once told him "with great power comes great responsibility," and so he used a lot of wisdom and careful thought to be responsible with what was given to him. I myself had this learn this concept as being someone who had to grow out of a lot of immature or unhealthy mindsets or struggles meant that my own "power"* was not always used responsibly. Still, we learn, we grow up, and we begin to see and use our giftings as something productive that can be a help to others who might have other giftings or need to reap the benefits of your gifting applied to their own life.

I think this is what makes me feel the most indignant about the Pharisees in Jesus' time. There is no doubt the Pharisees were gifted themselves: they were an influential political party, a respected social movement, and a revered school of thought; in short, dey was some smart fellers and were bestowed with giftings that allowed their enrollment, if you will, into notoriety. I can only guess and imagine that it was years of over-inflated and, subsequently, condescending piety which led to their almost cold state of affairs. Love was traded in for status, and we have one of the most chilling and explicit examples of irresponsibility as hearts hardened from years of self-entitlement and esteem from others.

I am reminded by their stories of old that I myself need to continue to walk hand-in-hand with humility. I am not against owning nice things or being technologically-relevant: it just makes your job easier. This is not really about that, though. This is more of taking ownership and being good stewards of what we were given and realizing we have been commissioned to love others as we ourselves are loved. I realize that there are gifts I might not possess or that are more dormant than others, but I can reach people in a unique and precise manner with what I have been given. Besides, God places people in my path that are also responsible with their gifts and complement or are strong where I am weak. Each and every day I continue to pray that my gift be the gift that keeps on giving by coming across opportunities to use it to better others and show others the path to Him.

*I use the quotation marks because I fear my use of the word "power" might denote some sort of mystical allusion which I would like to steer clear of.

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