by Rebecca Miller 

Over a decade ago, I worked with a spiritual gifts ministry in my church.  Under the supervision of our pastor, we worked to help identify spiritual gifts in the members of our congregation and to help them find places to plug into service in the Body of Christ.  Instead of taking people who hated working with kids and making them be Sunday School teachers because it was their “turn” or asking people to be just another warm body on a church council, we sought to match passions, spiritual gifts and maturity levels with appropriate positions.  This approach gave me an infectious desire to spot and affirm the multiplicity of spiritual gifts that God has placed in His body.

Although I still think often of how this relates to my church congregation, I have begun to think about what spiritual gifts mean to the family and how they can reveal God’s calling to each Christian.  I am writing primarily from the lens of wife and mother, but I think that what I have to say could relate to those who are single and those who do not yet have children as well.  All of us have a family or community of friends, relatives and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ whom we are called to encourage and work together with.

As I look at my husband and two kids (a five-year-old girl and a baby boy), I can see unique personality traits, passions, and spiritual gifts that God has placed within them.  Sometimes it’s all too easy to fixate on the ways they are different from me.  But in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul points out that God has purposefully made each of us unique.  He never intended us to all be the same.  Rather, His mission is fulfilled through very differently gifted people working together to accomplish the same purpose.

Although there can be some slight variation between lists of spiritual gifts, these are the main passages to which Bible scholars tend to turn: 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11; and 1 Peter 4:9-10.

Following is a list of the gifts found in these passages along with some hints or clues on how they might start to show up in a child.  Obviously, the older your child is, the clearer things are going to be as their personality begins to form and cement.  However, I see some of the same personality traits in my daughter today as I did when she was a newborn.  Spiritual giftedness does differ from personality in some ways, but since God made every part of us, these things are in conversation with each other.  What fun it is to see a little person unfolding like a flower and to see how God is working in them!

(Keep in mind, too, that God is surprising and so often uses us in spite of our natural abilities so that He might get the glory!  While our gifts may tell part of the story of God’s calling on our life, they may not reveal the whole story.  They are, however, a great place to start.)

Wisdom

  • Special insight into practical problems
  • Peacemaker in a conflict situation (perhaps with siblings)
  • Concrete in applying Bible verses to everyday life
  • Excellent “common sense”

Knowledge

  • May be studious and love learning new things about faith
  • Wants to know what every Bible verse says about a question
  • May “know” things about God that you haven’t taught them yet

Faith

  • Easy, breezy when it comes to trusting God
  • Not much of a questioner; accepts what he/she is told about God
  • Not thrown by difficult circumstances
  • Prays naturally and without worry

Healing/Miracles/Tongues/Interpretation of Tongues

Scholars differ on whether these gifts still are around today.  My personal belief is that they were never revoked in Scripture and Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  However, it goes without saying that if your kid has these gifts, it is probably going to be pretty obvious!

Prophecy

  • Truth teller
  • Rarely, if ever, lies
  • May sometimes come across as harsh in speaking truth
  • Hits the nail on the head
  • Is often convicting, even to Mom and Dad

Apostleship

  • Full of new ideas
  • Loves to start something new
  • Creative
  • Concerned about people who don’t know Jesus
  • Interested in other cultures and peoples
  • Interested in doing something to share Jesus with others

Teaching

  • Loves to come alongside younger siblings and teach them
  • Patient
  • Able to use multiple methods and words to get an idea across
  • Conscious of whom he/she is talking to and able to tailor the message to them

Helps/Service

  • Happy in the background
  • Loves to help with practical tasks (loading the dishwasher, dusting, sweeping, setting the table)
  • Is always following you around and wanting to work together with you
  • Asks for jobs to help with

Administration/Leadership

(two separate gifts that often—but not always—come together)

  • Always organizing friends (“you do this, you do that”)
  • The kid who comes up with the ideas that everyone else wants to do
  • Uncomfortable following others
  • Likes a clean, organized room
  • Inspiring

Encouragement/Exhortation

  • Frequently reminds others “you can do it!”
  • Sees the good in others, even when some people don’t

Giving

  • Willing (or even offer) to give away their toys
  • Love to always have something to give in the offering plate
  • At Christmastime, suggests that you give gifts to the needy instead of to them

Mercy

  • Might cry at the thought of children going hungry or suffering
  • “First on the scene” when a friend or sibling falls or is hurt
  • Big hugger and kisser
  • Careful to speak kind words
  • Tender and loving with animals or small children

Evangelism

  • Invites friends to church
  • Shares with friends about Jesus
  • Even talks to grown-ups about Jesus
  • Writes evangelistic letters to friends or family members who may not know Jesus yet

Shepherding

  • Nurtures friendships
  • Helps people join together and belong
  • Caring
  • Good listener
  • Gentle
  • Concerned for others
  • Notices the person who doesn’t have friends and reaches out to them
  • Gathers a troupe of littler kids around him/her

Rebecca MillerRebecca Miller is a mom, pastor’s wife, and freelance writer and editor.

 

5 Comments

  1. Becky Alexander says:

    Writing a children’s picture book about gifts. Ran across your post. Thank you!

  2. This is so great! I never really thought about taking a personality test myself, much less to observe my little guys to find out what their strengths are. I look forward to trying to do that and get to know their character better and better 🙂
    I think if parents really take the time to observe and learn all about their children, they can really help them get to know themselves so much better, especially in the teenage years!

  3. Very interesting! Thank you for sharing this with us~ I love watching my kids and wondering what they’re going to be when they “grow up”. 🙂

  4. I love how you’ve explained each of the gifts, Rebecca! Thank you so much for joining us here to share your passion for encouraging our children’s spiritual gifts.

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