I’m fascinated by personality. In fact, sometimes I think I went to school for the wrong thing because often when people are telling me about their lives, I’m silently psychoanalyzing them. This interest only intensified when I began the journey of discovering my spiritual gifts. But if there’s one thing I’ve found these past couple of weeks is that in the same way every personality has its strengths and weakness, every office mentioned in Ephesians 4 has its limitations, often for the same reason it’s a gift. More than being a truth I cognitively assent to, it’s become a reality I’m seeing in my ministry.
Recently, I’ve had friends tell me I’m an evangelist and I’ll be honest: that excites me. Evangelists are heralds of the good news, motivated by God’s grace. With one foot in the church and the other in culture, they easily blend with people from various backgrounds without needing to be one of them and invite them to say yes to Jesus. Nothing excites them more than seeing people come to the kingdom and nothing disturbs them more than hanging out with a bunch of Christians.
This explains why I sometimes have a hard time getting along with other believers and why I’m bored to tears in most “churchy” environments. It explains why I have a better relationship with some of the skeptics and seekers on campus than I do with some of the Christians I encounter and why I get such a high from spiritual conversations. Whether I’m on a plane, train, in a café or a bar, I’m always looking for people to talk about God.
But for the same reason it’s a gift, it’s also a challenge. Because evangelists are outward-focused the challenge for them is to actually care for a flock of people under their leadership. They have a tendency to love someone for a time and then leave without actually showing people how to proceed after making such the decision to follow Jesus. Because their desire to see people come to the kingdom, the temptation is to present a reductionist gospel in order to gain numbers. And they’re not the only ones: Shepherds, in their love for people, can create codependent disciples; prophets, in their love for God, can be so passionate about truth they fail to speak it in love; and teachers, in their love for knowledge, can solely exist in their ivory tower. The list goes on and on.
If I’m honest there are certain gifts I’ve idolized, thinking to myself some are better than others, when the reality is all gifts are created equal and function together to establish, build, and strengthen his church. None of them can exist independently: each gift has its strength and its limitations. But more importantly, they’re never more important than the One who gives the gift. While the temptation is to restrict ourselves to ministries that only require our abilities, our job is to recognize our weaknesses, surrender them to Jesus, and allow him to grow us as we empower and learn from those who have what we lack. While I’m still grappling with what that looks like tangibly looks, recognition and confession is the first step.