Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spiritual Gifts as Situational Anointings

This week Michael Spencer, aka the "Internet Monk," ventured some Some Thoughts on Spiritual Gifts
Much of the teaching on spiritual gifts that has morphed into “inventories” and such seems to be about my own possession of a gift so tied to my own identity that no matter what situation I am in, that gift is my one offering to the community.

So if my gift is teaching, then I am gifted for teaching in every situation. And I’m justified to say “I would like to help, but that’s not my gift/calling/ministry.”

Instead, I’d like to suggest that the Holy Spirit manifests a diversity of gifts in diverse people in diverse situations, and what may be my spiritual gift in situation “A” may no be at all what I am gifted to do in situation “B.”

The applicable prayer here is not just “What can I do?” but “Father, how can I be a gift from you to this situation?”
What Spencer is describing sounds to me a lot like what Gary Best (borrowing from John Wimber) called "situational anointings" and "God's tool box." Best says when we face a need we can just reach into the tool box and what we pull out seems to be the right tool for a given situation.
Instead of stressing one's lifelong, unchanging, gifting, it appears that Paul's primary purpose in using the metaphor of the body is to counter the Corinthians' competitive sense of independence. (Naturally Supernatural, page85)
I highly recommend Gary's book Naturally Supernatural for anyone interested in learning more about this concept. We use it extensively at our church in training people how to pray for needy people and move in spiritual gifts. But a warning - do not try to learn more unless you are willing for God to start invading your comfort zone. He has a habit of doing that!