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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.
- "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be
evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of
service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith
and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure
of the fullness of Christ."
Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
- A recent subscriber to Ministry Health
indicated she had a very strong background as a writer for several newspapers in some very
large cities. Sensing a possible opportunity I inquired whether the subscriber would
consider proofing some Ministry Health
articles. Her response intrigued me.
- "There are writers and then there are editors and I was always grateful
that the latter caught my errors and made me look good."
- Spiritual Gifts
- In past years spiritual gifts have enjoyed widespread appeal and attention. Spiritual
gifts were identified in Scriptures, various Spiritual Gift inventories have been
developed, and many congregations have implemented a variety of applications of Spiritual
Gift discovery and implementation for ministry.
- But in all the writing on Spiritual Gifts, one teaching I never found the teaching on
- God's Gracious Gift Giving
- God's Spirit distributes His gifts in a mysterious way. We don't choose them, earn them,
or qualify for them. They are given exclusively by His grace.
- Neither do we decide how much of a gift or what combinations of gifts and in what
degrees we will have. That also is determined by grace.
- The writer quoted above is obviously a gifted writer. But isn't it interesting that she
doesn't have the gift of proofing? It would seem "natural" that these two
abilities would always be matched up. After all, one might reason, doesn't one require the
- Not necessarily. In fact, there are many talents and interests that people have which
seem, from our perspective, to be "incomplete":
- Interesting writers may be boring speakers;
- Fascinating teachers may be poor preachers;
- Mesmerizing preachers may be inept administrators;
- Consultants with charisma may lack people skills.
- And the list goes on.
- Studying the short listing above doesn't it seem unusual that even the most gifted
individuals seem to have part of the gift but not what is needed in themselves to really
enable the gift to shine. They may be experts and unprecedented in their zealous use of
the gift they have.
- But something's missing. It's as if they are missing the other half. Some
examples might include...
* a winsome evangelist who can effectively share the Christian faith like no one else
one-on-one but is tongue-tied in large groups.
* one gifted in public speaking who is overcome by fear in a hospital visit.
* one who can preach more eloquently than St. Paul but has great difficulty writing.
* a consultant who can guide a church through conflict resolution but has difficulty
with interpersonal conflict in his or her own life.
* one who is able to study and learn deep truths of Scripture but can't communicate
* one who can teach adults with obvious expertise but flounders in a high school Bible
* one who inspires a congregation with charisma and enthusiasm but can't keep things
* a music director who, though training others to sing beautifully to the glory of God,
cannot himself/herself sing.
- In each case it seems as if God's Spirit gave "Half-Gifts." Sometimes one
might be tempted to wonder, "Did God 'mess up'? Did He make a mistake?"
- The Whole Truth About Half-Gifts
- No, God didn't make a mistake. Never has, never will. Yet it appears that everywhere we
look in the church we see individuals--gifted individuals--who are so close to
"having it all." If only they could have the gift of "x" they'd be
perfect leaders, supporters, etc. If only God would give them a little bit more giftedness
they would really make an outstanding difference in ministry. It's that half-gift that
they don't have that frustrates us.
- Looking at ourselves we might see the same half-gift phenomena as well. Some of the best
preachers are in small churches. One might wonder, "If my preaching is so good, why
doesn't the church grow?" Others with gifts of administration might wonder,
"I've got the proven gift of administration. What's missing?" What's
missing is the half-gift.
- Such questioning is the dilemma of the half-gift. It's such a joy to have the gift and
to see it used to build and extend the Kingdom. Yet it can be such a frustration that you
just don't have the whole thing.
- Moses' Half-Gift
- You are not the only one to have ever experienced the joy and frustration of Spiritual
Half-Gifts. Several Biblical examples come to mind. Most illustrative, perhaps, is Moses.
- Exodus three describes Moses calling by God in the flaming bush (no, it wasn't
"burning!"). In this account Moses demonstrates some amazing characteristics of
leadership. He was observant. He saw the bush from a distance. He was courageous and
approached the bush. He was trusting and obedient to God as he took off his sandals. These
combined with his royal Egyptian training seemed to indicate he had all the marks of a
- But note that he hesitated when the call came. Why? Because of a low view of himself.
"Who am I that I should do this?" he replied. "What if they don't believe
me?" he continued, demonstrating that he knew that there was something missing which,
if he had it, would make him a great leader, an outstanding leader. In Exodus 4:10, Moses
gives God a clear indication that he was missing the most important part of leadership.
- "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since You have spoken
to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." (NIV)
- What was missing was the other half of his gift.
- Why God Half-Gifts His Servants
- 1) God half-gifts us to maintain a profound sense of our weakness and His strength. If
we "had it all" our proud, sinful nature would overtake God's ministry. We would
be extremely susceptible to losing perspective as to whose work we were really doing...and
Who's really doing it!
- 2) God half-gifts us to force us to move ministry beyond ourselves. God's intent for
spiritual gifts is to use them for the good of the whole Body of Christ so that all are
built up. Thus, we are forced out of our comfort zone and drawn to delegate and share and
combine half-gifts for a common cause.
- 3) Spiritual half-gifts are a visible and uplifting reminder that we are all joined
together in the Body of Christ to Christ and each other. One of the ways we become more
tightly connected is by matching our missing half-gifts with others who have the other
half. As this pattern proliferates throughout the Body of Christ, the "unity in the
faith" and the "whole measure of the fullness of Christ" is realized.
- 4) Spiritual half-gifts keep us in a servant leadership role. When one's gift is used to
serve others, others begin responding in like manner. When they see the joy of your use of
your half-gift for them, they may be more inclined to respond similarly by complementing
your missing half-gift with theirs. This builds unity, energy and strength.
- 5) Spiritual half-gifts make us dependent on God's power daily. Every time we get to the
"end of our rope" in the use of our half-gift our realization of personal
powerlessness directs us to the power of God.
- 6) Half-gifts remind us that God builds the church, not us. He gives us just enough to
let us "go along for the ride" and experience the thrill of participating in His
- 7) Half-gifts curb our pride. Every use of our spiritual half-gifts entails the
possibility of abuse, arrogance and pride. Striving to complete the other half with our
own power and prowess moves us toward a subtle perversion of the real purpose of the gift,
namely to build the Church.
- 8) Half-gifts seek resolution and connection with other half-gifts. Churches which
encourage the discovery, use and sharing of "half-gifts" often find a fellowship
that is strong, vibrant and connected. Where half-gifts are joined together, there is
great joy, great effectiveness and a great sense of unity in the Body of Christ.
- 9) Half-gifts cause us to celebrate God's mysterious and marvelous synergy among us.
When half-gifts are joined, the use of the two half-gifts surpasses the power and
effectiveness of either one. It also has more power than if both half-gifts were in the
same individual. As the half-gifts combine in effective and energetic ministry God gives
the joy of service to two, half-gifted people, not just one fully-gifted individual.
- This synergy sets in motion an avalanche of joy. God always desires to increase the joy.
His working through half-gifts is just one of the many ways by which He works among us to
give His joy.
- Are There Really "Half-Gifts"?
- Admittedly there are no Bible verses that specifically discuss "Spiritual
Half-Gifts." It is not an explicitly stated Biblical doctrine.
- However, there is plenty of evidence demonstrating that God sometimes restricts the
fullest use of our gifts by physical limitations, circumstances, etc. St. Paul's extreme
giftedness, for example, was restricted by the "thorn in the flesh."
- It still happens today. Often we encounter extremely gifted individuals with handicaps
of various kinds--blindness, memory, auditory disorders, lameness, fatigue syndromes,
debilitating scars from accidents, injuries or illness, etc. Many of these, like Rick
Warren who lives with a chronic tendency to dangerously elevated adrenaline levels, are
living proof that God is really the one who builds His Church.
- When individuals with handicaps experience greater "success" than ourselves,
it ought not make us jealous. It ought make us rejoice. What they demonstrate to the Body
of Christ is that in Christ there is no half-gift. He graciously and generously
makes up whatever is missing so that the use of our gifts can glorify Him.
- What a powerful witness of God's working this is! What a blessing and display of grace
that God often does more powerful things with those who have handicaps than through those
who are healthy and whole. What an amazing demonstration of the power that is in all our
God-given spiritual gifts!
- One Thing For Sure
- However God gives His gifts, one thing is for sure. However God gifts us--in full, in
part, or in halves--God always gives us His full promised presence. Moses may have felt he
only had half-gifts. The recognition that he did not have all the giftedness he needed led
him to seek God's power and promise. God did not disappoint him.
- God graciously and faithfully fulfilled what was missing in his half-gift indirectly
through the half-gifts of his brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, and directly through
His Word and power. God was always with Moses so as to enable him to confidently and
completely fulfill God's calling.
- God graciously and faithfully fulfills whatever is missing in our half-gifts just
as He did with Moses. He does this for all His called servants. His Spirit fills to
overflowing whatever and wherever we lack.
- The truth is that God never really gives half-gifts. He gives the fullness of all His
gifts to His Body, the Church. The calling to ministry is not to dwell on half-gifts.
Instead, it is to focus on God's completing these gifts in and through us and others. When
this occurs, we see the remarkable powerful working of the Spirit's gifts among us.
- So you "only" have a Spiritual half-gift? Don't despair! God has given you the
joyous privilege to discover, develop and minister to bind together the many half-gifts in
His Body. Minister boldly with your half-gift and watch God's Spirit build the blessed
"tie that binds!"
Thomas F. Fischer
Index Articles 1-49
Articles 50-99 Articles
100-149 Articles 150-199
200-249 Articles 250-299
Articles 300-349 Articles
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was revised on:
Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:03:29 PM