I remember the first time I took a spiritual gifts inventory. It revealed I had the gift of exhortation.
I was relieved.
I didn't have one of the "hard" gifts. You know the gifts I'm talking about -- evangelizing, teaching, leadership, prophecy.
I had the gift of encouragement. I could just be the cheerleader, the hugger, the card sender.
I was 15 at the time.
I have taken several spiritual gifts inventories since then, and time and time again, it is revealed that I have the gift of exhortation. I have other gifts as well -- teaching and wisdom among them. But exhortation is always at the top of the list.
As I've aged in years and matured in my walk, I have come to realize how precious this gift is. And how hard it really can be. Exhortation is not the gift of cheerleading I once believed it to be (though sometimes cheering does come into play). It is instead, the gift of recognizing someone's need to be encouraged in whatever situation they may find themselves and reaching out, right where they are, with love, comfort, compassion and positive words of reassurance. Often it is being the catalyst to help ignite the passion in (or light a fire under) someone to become all that God intends for them to be.
The word exhortation comes from the Greek work, paraklesis, which means "calling to one's side". It's a coming alongside, standing in the gap, buttressing kind of gift. Exhortation can make an immediate impact or take it's sweet time. It can change a moment, a course of action. or a life. It is a blessed gift.
It often humbles me to remember some of the ways in which God has allowed me to use this gift. From jobs I've had as a nurse (labor and delivery, home health care, nurseline), to people He has placed in my path (patients, friends, family, neighbors, even strangers and a few people whose path I have wished hadn't crossed with mine), and now as a homeschool mom, who loves to mentor other homeschool moms, He has given me so much opportunity to encourage, counsel, comfort, pray with, lead, teach, and mentor so many people, in many different situations. My life has been greatly enriched and blessed by these opportunities to serve. I have made a difference and I have also made mistakes. I have learned that His grace truly is sufficient.
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. ~2 Corinthians 12:9
I know that I have not always been an obedient daughter. It saddens me to think of the times I have missed out on my Father's blessings because of my own selfishness or lack of attentiveness to the needs of others. I pray daily that He continues to break my heart for what breaks His. And that He will continue to trust me with this precious gift. I know that He has so much more in store for me. I am anxious to discover what's next. I pray that I will be obedient to His call. That I will be humble, compassionate and loving in all that I do for His glory.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. ~Romans 12:6-8
Do you know your spiritual gifts? Have you taken a spiritual gifts inventory? If you have not, I encourage you to. There are several available for free online. I would love to hear all about it. Leave a comment for me and let's chat about your spiritual gifts!