10 Spiritual Gifts You Won’t Find in the Bible

by Andy Wood on February 18, 2009

in Ability, Hoarders, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos

spiritual-gifts-wordleSpiritual gifts are in the news lately.  Figured out what yours is/are yet?  It’s a fascinating study, provided we approach it with the right attitude.

The Internet Monk suggests that the Holy Spirit gives different people different gifts in different situations – challenging the assumption that we somehow receive a gift load when we are saved and carry that with us throughout a lifetime.

Tim Challies also wrote last month about discovering your giftings.

The Barna Research Group just did a survey on spiritual gifts and discovered some interesting stuff.  Since they’ve been doing this for a while, they reported some fascinating trends among Americans claiming to be born again:

  • Evidently the Holy Spirit is recognizing a greater need for encouragement over the last several years (can’t imagine why!).  The percentage that claims to have the gift of encouragement has tripled – growing steadily from 2% in 1995 to 6% today.
  • Also, apparently the Spirit has decided that Americans have enough understanding of the gospel (or maybe that some of the mega churches have all that sown up).  Since 1995, the proportion of born again adults claiming the gift of evangelism dropped from 4% to 1%.
  • On the other hand, Lucy, churches may have some ‘splainin’ to do. Evangelicals who have no idea what their gift is rose from 8% in 2000 to 13% today.

One of the questions about spiritual gifts that comes up occasionally is whether the gifts mentioned in Ephesians, 1 Corinthians, and Romans are exclusive. That is, are those sixteen or seventeen spiritual gifts the only ones the Holy Spirit gives?  Were those lists – all of which are different – meant to be just examples, or are they the only possibilities?

That sure came up on the Barna survey!  More than one-fifth (21%) of survey respondents claimed to have spiritual gifts that aren’t mentioned in the Bible.  These include:

  • a sense of humor
  • singing
  • health
  • life
  • happiness
  • patience
  • a job
  • a house
  • compromise
  • premonition
  • creativity
  • clairvoyance.

So I gotta tell you, my wheels are turning.  While it may be risky to step outside the framework of the Bible, the possibility of other spiritual gifts brings up some interesting ideas.  If other spiritual gifts really do manifest themselves in the Body, then I think I may have discovered some.  And I’m sure building a wish list for others.  So with apologies to the Apostle Paul, here are ten possible charismata he just didn’t mention: 

Dogs

Picture this scene.  You’re out doing church visitation, and you’re anxious to share Christ with someone.  You knock on the door, and suddenly, with no advance warning, a big, ferocious dog comes barking and snarling from around the side of the house.  The person with the gift of dogs is the one who can talk some sense into the dog and calm him down while you are presenting the gospel or ministering to someone in some other way.

Receiving

If there is a supernatural gift of giving, then doesn’t it make sense that somewhere there is someone who feels their calling in life is to receive?  Some people with this gift specialize – receiving advice, help, spiritual truth, money, etc.

Somebody once told a guy, “God told me to give you this Cadillac.”  His instant reply:  “God just told me to take it!”  He must have had the gift of receiving.

Sometimes you can spot a person with the gift of receiving by their reluctance to give back.  Ask them to give spiritual truth, money, or time?  “Sorry.  Not my gift.”

Condemnation

For years it has been said that the most cruel and critical people anywhere can be found in churches.  But maybe some people can’t help it.  Maybe they’re actually exercising a spiritual gift.  Perhaps it’s just their calling in life to make other Christians feel like low-life scumbags.

The goal of this gift is to keep everyone else inside and outside the church as humble and as close to hell as possible.  And let’s face it – some people are way beyond good or talented.  They’re gifted at it.

Cough

What a useful addition to worship-related gifts.  One of our characteristics in worship is that we can’t stand silence.  It makes us too nervous!  But this is where the gift of cough comes to the rescue.  If the mood of worship ever gets too intense, or too quiet, someone will soon be led to offer up a cough offering to the Lord.  You can just feel the tension melt.  Glory!

(This gift for noise should not be confused with someone who is recovering from a cold.  They can’t help it.)

Evaluation

People with this gift are so anointed that however they analyze us must be the same as God’s view.  They can analyze, theorize, and offer that always-engaging “speak into your life” that we all so long to hear and receive.  We all should speak the truth in love to each other.  But people with this gift take it to a whole new level.  You’ll realize you didn’t know a dang thing about yourself, your church, your family, your own giftedness, or anything else when this “dose of the Ghost” was manifested in your presence.

Opinions

People with this gift function as shape-shifters for entire congregations.  I have seen this miracle-working power live and in-person.  It’s incredible.

Once I was in a meeting where people were trying to decide whether to hire this guy to be our worship leader.  They went around the room, all talking positively about him and what he had to offer.  But alas, these were the non-gifted.

Suddenly the spirit began to move, and it was unlike anything I’d ever seen.  One guy – the Gifted One – simply said, “I don’t think we can afford to hire anybody at this time.”  One by one the entire group fell into unison.  It was a miracle of cosmic proportions.  To a man/woman, they all could testify that they had no clue what they thought until this Gifted One revealed their opinions to them.  Simply amazing.

Discouragement

For every congregation filled with encouragers, maybe the Lord needs to send someone with a second opinion.  Somebody with a supernatural sense of reality.  A spiritual “hang it up” expert.

Here’s a funny cartoon example of how this gift operates.

Think about it.  Shouldn’t the Almighty have somebody to talk us back from the point of no return?  A voice in the congregation who can let everybody know that God says it’s OK to quit?  I’ve known people who were powerfully used to change the direction of some stupidly visionary, faith-filled people.  God bless us every one.

Silence

This gift shows up in many places, including marriage, ministry, and congregation life.  People who are endowed with the gift of silence can turn a boisterous victory celebration into a vacuum chamber.  They are uniquely endowed by their Creator to sit in motionless silence whenever anybody is trying to communicate.  “No news is good news,” they say, and God is using them confirm that today’s a really good day!

Criticism

I mentioned “mote pickers” in the last post.  These are people with the gift of criticism.  But this is by no means used only inside the church.  People with this gift can hurl ‘em anywhere, at anybody!  They make a great interview on CNN – especially in one of those Crossfire-type debates.

Gifted critics are change agents.  Swords drawn in God’s name, they’re going to change something or somebody.  By leading the verbal charge(s) against the evil of the day, they are uniquely empowered to shorten the age of the church.

Confusion

People with the gift of confusion can take the simplistic notions of faith like “Jesus loves me” and find eternal variations on the question, “Now what do you mean by that?”

I once heard a professor with this gift.  He gave an impressive chapel talk about something to do with “mystic moments” with God.  I turned to a friend afterward and asked what she thought.

“Andy,” she said, “he was just talking about having a quiet time.”

Ahhh.  What a gift!

There’s more, including a whole set of platform gifts:  the gift of lights, the gifts of microphone, sound, drama, heavenly gaze, and everybody’s favorite:  the gift of look-hot-even-though-I-can’t-sing.

But I think I’ll probably stick with the original lists.

Still, sometimes I wonder…

How about you?  You have any suggestions for “spiritual” gifts you’ve seen in operation?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mattie March 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Andy, I just went back and read this. HYSTERICAL!!! Great post! And eye-opening, as well.

Matties last blog post..This is gross, I know, but bear with me…

Rhys October 24, 2009 at 2:00 am

Hi Andy – I seem to have met a lot of gifted people myself – my all-time favorite of course is the Judge, that person able to make split second judgements on ANYONE!
.-= Rhys´s last blog ..How to Preach With Conviction =-.

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