What’s your spiritual deficiency? I figure if we have spiritual gifts, we must have spiritual deficiencies as well.
I know mine. Mercy. When God was handing out the Mercy gifts I must’ve forgotten to get in line.
Spiritual Gifts Test, a website specializing in the explanation of biblical spiritual gifts (Romans 12:6-8), describes the gift of mercy:
It means to be patient and compassionate toward those who are suffering or afflicted. The concern for the physical as well as spiritual need of those who are hurting is covered by the gift of mercy. Those with this gift have great empathy for others in their trials and sufferings. They are able to come alongside people over extended periods of time and see them through their healing process. They are truly and literally the hands and feet of God to the afflicted.
All my life I’d read something like that and think, “Afflictions, suffering, patience, nursing…um, I think I’ll just stay over here with the teaching and administration.” For Mercy I’d get a big fat zero, or possibly an optimistic “1” on spiritual gifts tests.*
It was almost a relief to see Mercy at the bottom of my list; and an even greater relief when I saw it at the top of someone else’s list. “Oh good! You do that. I’ll just stay over here.”
But, as He so often does, God had another idea. Mom got sick. And suddenly Mercy wasn’t just over there anymore. It was right here, in my own hands and feet.
Practicing Mercy For Mom
We told Kai he needed to choose a sport to try in middle school. (Trust me, I’m coming back around to the point.) We suggested that he play flag football, like his brother Teo used to do. His response was perfectly logical: “But I don’t know how to play football.”
“Don’t worry, Kai, they’ll teach you.”
It was in that same way God began to teach me about mercy ministry. Like a football coach with a peewee team, God started small. He let me use what I was already good at to serve Mom.
I started by going to Mom’s doctor appointments. I would take copious notes and make sure I understood the plans for Mom’s care, the medication instructions, and the decisions that needed to be made. You see, at first I was using my top-of-the-list administrative gifts to take some of the load off of Mom and Dad.
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I also baked my healthy whole wheat bread to lift Mom’s spirits and to give her an easy snack to grab as cooking started to feel a little complicated for her. Baking? Absolutely!
I even updated my Facebook with news about Mom so that her friends could know the latest. Social media? Check.
By these little steps that were natural for me, I was able to serve Mom in Mercy, being the hands and feet of Jesus to her in little ways.
Over the months I grew in Mercy, moving from peewee to the big leagues as Mom’s disease progressed. God showed my that by his Holy Spirit in me, I could serve Mom in ways that didn’t come naturally to me. I could feed her. I could change her. I could turn her so she wouldn’t get bed sores. I could tend to her mysterious wounds. I could make sure her feet weren’t cold. I could brush her hair out of her face.
And, little by little, God taught me about Mercy.
Her Beloved Bridegroom would touch her cheek soon. But until that day my hand could be his touch on her face. My tender touch could show her his love. That’s Mercy.
I almost missed it! I almost sat back on my heels and said, “Other people can do that.”
But God, in his great love for me, gave me a job I never wanted, and through that he taught me about the gentleness of his hands, the tenderness of his care, and the grace of his compassion in my ugliest human moments.
Bring It Home
What is your spiritual deficiency? What gift do you score the lowest in?
Are you tempted to use your spiritual gifts assessment as an excuse for what you “don’t have to do?”
Have you ever gone through a trial that showed you a part of yourself – or a part of God – that you really didn’t understand before?
*You can take a basic spiritual gifts test here. It’s important to take these tests carefully! Remember, they aren’t meant to be an excuse for what you don’t want to do. They also aren’t meant to bring you shame about the things you are less equipped to do by the giftings God gave you. They are designed to help you see where you can most naturally use your gifts to serve; but don’t let the results put you in a box.