I like Janese’s calling. She is one of the leaders in our ward’s Young Women’s program. I enjoy hearing about how the week-day activities and the lessons went. She loves her calling, the women she serves with, and the girls she gets to spend time with. Today we were discussing the lesson she taught: “How Does Heavenly Father Want Me to Use My Spiritual Gifts?”
Of course, part of the lesson is to discuss how we determine which gifts we’ve been blessed with. For a short reading on how Mormons view spiritual gifts, take a second and read this short article on the LDS.org site. I’m not much for dramatic spiritual demonstrations, but we, as Latter-Day Saints, really do believe in the gifts of the spirit:
We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth. (Article of Faith 1:7)
In fact, though you’ll find lists of spiritual gifts in the scriptures, there really isn’t an exhaustive list of gifts we receive through the Holy Ghost that bless others and assist us as we strive to build the church and spread the gospel. There are endless gifts. I believe that for every weakness, there is a gift that can “fill in the gaps”, so to speak. If you need to speak another language to help share the gospel, the gift of tongues can help you learn the language. If you need to be a better listener as a parent, the gift of being able to listen without judgement would help you. And the list goes on…
So, back to the question: How do I figure out which gifts I have? I’m actually going to share some thoughts on a different question: How can I help another person determine what gifts they have? There are a lot of different ways to help someone else determine their gifts, but I’m going to focus in on one: Give genuine and specific compliments.
There are a million reasons that we should be better at sending “thank you” cards that are also complimentary, but one of the best reasons is that people often don’t realize they “have a gift” until someone says, “Wow, you’re really good at writing poetry that helps me feel closer to the Savior”, or “I really appreciated the time you took to coach my daughter in soccer. You were really patient with the girls and helped them improve a lot this season”. When a person or two points out something you are doing well, it allows you to ponder whether God has blessed you with a gift through the medium of the Holy Ghost.
Our compliments and praise, according to Elder Neal A. Maxwell, ought to be deserved and specific. When we compliment someone who didn’t really qualify for the compliment, they begin to doubt our compliments (but not our intentions, I hope!). When we compliment too generally, it looks as though we weren’t really paying attention enough to their efforts. But when someone says, “Your talk in sacrament meeting was just what I needed to hear. I’ve been struggling to find ways to improve my personal scripture study, and your three steps are something I’m going to try”, the compliment can possibly help the recipient realize that they may have a gift to communicate gospel-centered ideas.
Finally…who needs our deserved and specific compliments the most? How about those who we probably have some kind of responsibility to help determine their gifts, like our spouses, children, and friends? Of course we want to be kind to everyone, but I wonder if there are some people that Heavenly Father expects us to bless with a genuine compliment so that they might have a hint as to what He has blessed them with?
These are my personal views, and don’t represent an official position by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints…