Helps, Service, Singleness

Diagram of 3 colors of GodDo you know that assisting others is a group of spiritual gifts, named and/or described in scripture?  As we have focused on the Commitment Dimension (red) of Ministry, we may have had a tendency to overlook some of the most dedicated people among disciples of Jesus Christ: those who support leaders and ministries, allowing them to be a more effective and personal connection for followers. These gifts cover a broad range of tasks and conditions – some unexpected.

Training for this set of gifts involves “who and why” preparations, rather than “what or how” study, although some responsibilities are better served by developing certain skills.

The gift of Helps is variously described in scripture as being given to persons who serve others, or who serve as levels of leaders under other leaders, or who serve Jesus by being available for many specific support needs.  Christians who place their own gifts at the disposal of other Christians release those others to concentrate more on their ministry.  Helps is like the gift of Mercy for disadvantaged persons in its focus on individuals, but is used to lighten the load of other Christians, especially leaders. Scripture basis is Luke 10:38-42; and also Ex.18:21-22, Num.11:16-17, Rom.16:1-2, and 1Cor.12:28.  Church leaders (pastors, elders, worship and committee leads) need support in diverse activities, and those with the gift of Helps will want to seek out those areas and to develop skills where their assistance is most needed.  About 13% of Christians have this gift, although some may not recognize their abilities as a spiritual gift.

Much like Helps, the gift of Service can support with similar tasks, but in contrast to Helps, is directed towards groups or organizations, rather than individuals.  Service and Helps gifts often exist in the same persons (about 80% pairing), and enable a Christian to recognize where her/his participation is needed and to see that urgent jobs get done. Scripture basis is Luke 22:24-27, and also Luke10:38-42, Acts6:1-7, Rom.12:6-7, and 1Tim.3:8-13.  Although quite willing to fulfill needs, those with either/both of these gifts must recognize when not to assume too much too often, which makes people co-dependent, nor to be taken advantage by others.  As one actively seeks to serve needs, another danger to avoid is gift projection, where one judges others who do not have these gifts.

One gift not easily acknowledged by some as a spiritual gift is Singleness.  This gift cannot meaningfully stand on its own, except as combined with another spiritual gift, just like the gift of Missionary alone cannot be a viable ministry.  Roman Catholics, with the oath of celibacy, may be more comfortable than other Christian faith traditions with the presence of this gift in people.  Scripture basis is 1 Cor. 7:32-35; also see Matt. 19:10-12, 1Cor.7:7-8, and 1Tim.4:1-5.  Singleness can make other gifts more effective, and those with it are happier than if they were married.  In contrast, marriage doesn’t require a specific spiritual gift.  Other Christians should not pressure those who have accepted this gift by implying those who aren’t married are missing completeness in their lives.  Some ministries, particularly foreign missions and church plantings, even require flexibility that is difficult to harmonize with family concerns.

We will next begin to explore another Ministry Dimension, the Power (blue) spiritual gifts.  This group of gifts may normally be the least natural to those of us in a mainline church.   In general Christians are familiar with the concepts of Power Dimension spiritual gifts, yet still be uncomfortable around those who use them in praise and service of God.  If you are inspired to know more about a ministry in which you think you are gifted by the Spirit, sign up for a small group discovery study at the Connection Point, Sanford-Davis Room, PUMC.

Originally publish in The CHIMES as, “SPIRITUAL GIFTS – WHAT ARE THEY (Part 6)?