Where Are All the White Boxes?


The more I learned about spiritual gifts the more I frustrated I became. I had been praying for God to show me where He had gifted me and to-date no one has approached me with, “Janna, your spiritual gifts are seventy percent encouragement, twenty percent giving, and ten percent faith.” Either a person gifted with knowledge is my missing puzzle piece or that’s not how God intended to speak to me. I waited for like… three whole days, but no clear cut answer came.

But that’s how I tend to be. I’m a clear cut kind of person.

What I needed was a visual of boxes each labeled with a spiritual gift. Upon opening you can clearly see what each gift is composed of. Teaching: you are often invited in front of large audiences to present a bullet-point presentation of information that was easy for you to gather and compile. Encouragement: you send weekly cards of nice words and Bible verses to your friends and family members. And don’t even get me started on Prophecy – a box compiled of multiple boxes. Do you know what that does to a type-A personality? Gifts over-lapping? Oh, it was enough to make one cry.

Where were all the black-and-white tests with questions and answers? Why make me do all the work? Why not someone just tell me already what to do and how to do it?

Well, speaking opportunities are not pouring in and I can barely get a bill sent out on time never mind a card of encouragement to a friend in need. So the two gifts I thought I had must not be the ones I had. Great. Back to square-one.

I honestly began wondering if learning about the gifts was even worth it. Why not just do what God gave you peace about doing?

But the Holy Spirit opened my ears and heart in perfect timing for Pastor Jon Marshall’s message this past weekend. I sat riveted as he spoke on realms of gifts.

Speaking gifts – teaching, prophecy, encouragement, knowledge, etc.

Non-speaking gifts – acts of service, administration, prayer, etc.

While I can bring a pre-arranged meal to a family in need my God-given strengths tend to be heavier in the speaking realm. (If only those elementary teachers who told my mom I never shut-up had known!)

I sat thinking. My brow was deeply furrowed and I twisted my lips while thinking. Pastor Jon probably thought I was in deep doubt or consternation over his message.

Then he got me right where it hurts. He said if we had false humility and wrote off the fact that God had indeed given us a spiritual gift we were insinuating that God was a stingy God. I took a quick gasp and whispered to my husband, “I can’t believe he just said that to me!”

No, I was not offended, I was convicted.

Maybe I had not wanted to actively seek out my gifts, because it felt to me-focused to study what I’m more good at than not. See? Even saying “what I’m good at” feels strange.

Well, after speaking to my husband (who is gifted in wisdom) and our fearless leader Suzie Lind I can confidently join the throngs of Believers my God gave richly to me, just as He gave richly to you. I can now stand in the assembly and say, “Hi, my name is Janna and I’m an encourager and a teacher.”

So why spend time praying and searching for what your spiritual gifts are? Because once identified and the glory is given to it’s rightful owner: God Almighty. He gave us life so we can live. He gave us gifts so that others might live too. We have the freedom to work within those gifts with much prayer and training and concern for spreading the un-perishable truth to those around us: Jesus is indeed alive!

And don’t we all need to hear that from time to time?

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace; whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11

2 thoughts on “Where Are All the White Boxes?

  1. okay, it’s me again but I just could not sit here, read this and not say anything, well actually I really don’t have to say anything because you said EVERYTHING that I too was thinking after this weeks message!! I was sitting there (Sunday morning, early service) with probably the same look that you had – furrowed brow, lips twisted and then he said it and I thought “no way, that’s too me focused” but then I really bent in and listened and well… it really isn’t about me at all is it, but all about God and funny enough – His story and where and how I fit, where and how we all fit …. another “turning point” for me. I love how God does that! So here I am living the life He has called me to, bending in and simply embracing Him and His promises that arrive daily as pure and beautiful gifts because that’s what happens when you live in the moment of His calling right, giving out through the spiritual gifts He has given you – it all just fits.

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