the weblog of Alan Knox

Super-gifted vs. less-gifted

Posted by on Feb 9, 2010 in blog links, discipleship, edification, gathering | 5 comments

Last week, I wrote a short post concerning 1 Corinthians 12:22-25 called “The weaker are indispensable” in which I concluded with the following questions:

Who are the people with “weaker” gifts, and how do we demonstrate that they are indispensable and worthy of greater honor?

Now, Andy at “aBowden Blog” has written a similar post called “Unequally equal?” in which he considers how some people are “gifted” more (or differently) than others. But, Andy does more than ask questions. He says:

The highly gifted, then, end up accumulating more and more responsibility, leaving less and less for the other believers to do. It is easy to understand how such an error was made. After all, wouldn’t it be logical to assume that the most highly gifted should do most of the ministry? Sadly, I think in our ultra-technological age we are beginning to see the tragic consequences of such a flawed assumption. Now the super-gifted do not merely accumulate the ministry within the four walls of a local congregation. Rather, we find that now the most gifted pastors and Christian speakers are not merely confined to their own congregations, but are projected live via satellite to numerous locations throughout the country. If such a practice continues, we could very soon find that five or six super-gifted believers do all this type of ministry for those of us who have an average or sub average gifting in this area.

So it seems, then, that although there remains inequality among beleivers, this does not mean that the most gifted should take on more and more of the work. What is the proper response, then, to such inequality? I think the solution is quite simple. Allow the less gifted a chance to exercise their gifting. There will always be someone more qualified, more gifted, more experienced, more capable. But maybe, just maybe, God delights in using the unlikely, the weak, the bumbling, the foolish. Perhaps it is not about always having the polished delivery, the best, most state of the art, most professional. Perhaps God delights to use those who don’t have their act together, who are still beset with weakness and struggles. Wasn’t it the apostle Paul who talked about God using cracked pots so that the glory would go to the contents, rather than the vessel?

Perhaps Paul had this idea in mind when he wrote, “On the contrary! Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indespensible, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor” (1 Cor 12:22).

For some reason, God delights to entrust his magnificent gospel to us weak, foolish human beings. Why would he do that? Perhaps, whatever the answer is to that question, it is the for the same reason that he delights to equally use the unequally gifted.

Very well said, Andy! God does delight to use the “weak” to confound and even teach the “strong”… if the “strong” are willing to give the “weak” opportunities to speak and serve (1 Peter 4:10-11).

Could there even be a place for the “weak” and “less-gifted” to speak and serve when the church meets together?


5 Comments

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  1. 2-9-2010

    Alan, Great question! Similarly, how many believers are looked down upon as “less-gifted” or “weak” just because they choose not to compete with seemingly “strong” or “highly gifted” brothers and sisters? Or even worse, out of fear of appearing “less-gifted”? Whereas in reality, many who are highly gifted may not be discipled to use their gifts for the good of others. How many gifted folks are left on the sidelines or sitting on the bench? How many are not even given a chance?

    Furthermore, what qualifies as “highly gifted”? Intelligent? Educated? Well-Spoken? Industrious? Willing? With Good Connections? It seems to me that many folks who are elevated in ministry are considered highly gifted because of external reasons, not necessarily spiritual reasons (though I’m not trying to create a dichotomy here).

    I hope that the Lord will use the gifts he gave me for His glory to encourage many, not that I would be exalted, but so that I would be able to participate in the work of the Holy Spirit together with other believers and believers-to-be.

  2. 2-9-2010

    I think we have crafted our meeting space and style to favor those we and the world most highly esteem. In doing so, we have shut out most of what would normally take place when a family gets together. The difference is even grater when we have a large family gathering.

    Family gatherings are not monolithic meetings. University lectures are.

    In a family gathering everyone of every size, skill and gender naturally functions, plays, works, talks, loves, and finds deep acceptance as a family member.

    In a university lecture o one may speak but the professor, unless invited, and only until shut back up by the professor with a “thank you, Bob. Now, as I was saying…”

    Have we gained the world’s favor by having meetings meant to only show our best side, our most powerful features (as the world values them)? (and just what is that worth?) Have we lost the sense of belongingness and natural contribution in the midst of messy, chaotic, well ordered, lovely, crazy family reunions?

  3. 2-9-2010

    Alan,

    Thanks for a top article.

    Do you think we use the terms “gifting” and “weaker/stronger” far too loosely?

    I regret the fact that for a large part of my pastoral ministry in the traditional church scene, those who were “appointed” by the church to various “ministries”, because of their “gifts”, were often the ambitious, the proud, the loud, or the wanna-be. They were regarded as the “stronger”.

    It is still happening in many of the newer expressions of the church! We still need to come to grips with the truth of 1John 2:16!

    The quiet, retiring, humble ones, unobtrusively faithful, were literally disregarded, and, often the objects of critical comment by the “stronger”.

    During my later years, I discovered that many of these were the real “stronger” ones, who, when given the opportunity, proved to actually be the “gifted” ones who ought to be in leadership.

  4. 2-9-2010

    When we get to heaven I think some people may be surprised at where the “strong and gifted” really rank versus the “weak and less gifted” by human standards. Those who are exalted or exalt themselves on earth are not going to be so in heaven.

  5. 2-9-2010

    Wes, Art, Aussie John, and Joy,

    Great discussion! Thank you!

    I think we will begin to see the true power of God displayed when some of us who may be considered the “strong” or “super-gifted” shut up and allow the “weak” and “lesser-gifted” serve and speak, especially when the church is gathered together.

    -Alan