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A Free Kidney, Bad Christian Musician, and Spiritual Gifts

I want to share two things. A story and a revelation.

#1 KIDNEY FROM A FACEBOOK FRIEND

My dad sent me this video about a woman named Sherry in his church in Austin, Texas. Sherry needs a kidney transplant, and she’s getting close to going onto dialysis. What makes matters worse is that she has a special blood type, and it would take a miracle to find the right match.

Last November, they met the Cowan family, who live in Houston, through her daughter’s softball journey. After only meeting once, Sherry and Mrs. Cowan became Facebook friends.  Over time, Sherry began sharing her struggling health journey. Mrs. Cowan was really moved by her story and the hardship Sherry was dealing with. So much so, she decided to check to see if she herself might be the long-shot chance Sherry needed. And she was.

The Cowan’s recorded this Zoom call when they broke the news to Sherry and her family. This is a highlight of the end of the call.

[You can watch the full Zoom chat here.]

Insane, right? These people met once, live far apart, had kept in light contact for several months, then when hope is starting to fade out… here’s a kidney. How crazy is this?

I’m overwhelmed by the love people show each other, even when they barely know each other. This is so beautiful and wonderful I had to share it. Now onto….

#2 THE REVELATION

During the early 2000’s, a poster hung in youth groups across America, as if it were mandatory décor. My wife can attest to it, having worked in a Christian bookstore and sold many of them. The premise of the poster was “If you like (fill in a secular artist)… You might also like (similar Christian artist.). So, if you like Eminem, you might like KJ-52. Britney Spears? Try some Staci Orrico. If Limp Bizkit is your deal, how about Toby Mac?  Nickelback and Kutlass aren’t that much different.  But the laziest of all: Dave Mathews Band and David Crowder Band. These were real comp’s at that time.

I thought of this poster today, not just because my wife and I recently binge-listened to Christian 90’s/early 2000’s playlists on Spotify, but also because of a revelation I had. Two things I love are closer than I thought: generosity and personality tests.

I’m a recovering “test” addict. Meyers-Briggs. StrengthsFinder. StandOut. Enneagram. Which FRIENDS character I am. I’ve taken them all. The DISC profile was my first hit, but it got out of hand, and after taking one after another, I couldn’t keep most of them straight. It’s impossible for me to be unbiased or unaffected taking the tests and quizzes because I overanalyze the entire thing.

Although I had “retired” from the personality game a few years back, the enneagram exploded into the Christian culture. I fought it hard, then relented and came back for one more test. But other than that one moment of impropriety, I’ve stayed sober ever since. Sorry, “Working Genius”, I guess I’ll always have to wonder what I am. But deep down, I will always love personality tests.

So if someone like me loves Personality Tests so much, and is also interested in generosity… guess what the Christian equivalent is?

(pause for dramatic effect)

SPIRITUAL GIFTS!

Before the enneagram was a hot thing, people were taking all kinds of Spiritual Gifts tests. I had to take one in college, and then again when I worked my first job at a church. However, since then, I’ve avoided it completely. If someone asked, I’d say “Helps” (whatever that means) or maybe even “administration.” But why was I so uninterested with this band comp? I have some theories.

First off, the conversation around Spiritual Gifts is confusing. I listened to a preacher recently say, “There are nine Spiritual Gifts. You have one of them. So you better figure out what it is.” He seemed pretty convincing as he read from Romans 12, so I looked over the list. Boom! There was the “Gift of Generosity.” Mission accomplished. But to be safe, I googled spiritual gifts, and lo and behold, there were other passages. Not just Romans 12, but also 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4. A few of the gifts overlapped, and the names were all over the place. Not to mention other one-offs like the “gift of celibacy” and “gift of poverty” in other books of the Bible. Then the theory of APEST, where all the gifts are really just the ones in Ephesians.

So it’s really confusing. I’d rather just have a test tell me which of the nine I am, or better yet one of four animals!

Secondly (and probably the most likely reason) is intent. Most personality tests pat you on the head while proclaiming the best of you has yet to be discovered. All of them spend a lot of time focusing on you, navel gazing into your own special or broken characteristics. It’s kinda fun and can also get self-interested really quickly.

Spiritual Gifts aren’t about you so much, but what God wants to do through you for other people. Which doesn’t stroke my ego nearly as much as that I’m a “Connector-Visionary.” And that’s on me.

So combine confusion with a selfish attitude, and that’s why up until now I was completely out on the Spiritual Gifts phenomenon. And I feel kinda silly right now, because if God really did gift us supernaturally to do ANYTHING, it behooves us to know what that is. Cultivate the gift. Double-down on it. And give it away.

In revisiting Spiritual Gifts this week, I tried hard to come to some consensus quickly to put out this post. But it’s honestly a fascinating, deep well that I want to take my time with. The whole thing is intertwined so tightly with much of the generosity stuff I’ve been reading, writing, about and experiencing. So, this post is less a “Here’s the 7 ways I use my Spiritual Gifts (and you can too)”, and more of me telling you now that I plan to dive in and bring out some nuggets at a later time, as God wills it.

But I’m kinda pumped and excited for what’s going to come out of it. Hopefully less confusion, a little Staci Orrico, and more gifts.

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