Gifts and Callings Affect Our Perspectives

We all look at what’s happening around us through an interpretive grid that is informed by our gifts, callings, temperament, and past experiences.     

This means that it is to be expected that many of us will size up a situation differently.  This does not mean that truth is relative, but that we must have a humble realization that our own perspective never includes all the truth of a particular circumstance.           

A good example would be Paul’s reference to “the work” that we find in Acts 15:37-38:
Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also.  But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.

What was “the work” referred to here?  And would everyone on the mission team perceive “the work” through the same lense?    

 
According to Paul?  He would likely define the work as carrying out the mandate of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles so as to establish viable churches, with viable leaders, in the great cities of the Gentile world, in the midst of great opposition.  Paul’s focus is on the ethne, that is, the unreached Gentile people groups.
 
According to Barnabas? He would have probably viewed the work differently than Paul.  He would have seen it as using his gifts to help key individuals get connected with God’s incredible calling on their lives.  Barnabas’s focus is individual people that need encouragement and coaching…and the possibility of affecting many people through them.
 
Hence, Paul saw John Mark as a potential liability to the critical mission of the team.  Barnabas would see John Mark as a big part of the mission!  Who was right?  They both were!  But in the heat of the moment we do not always realize that each of us views life and opportunities through the grid of our own callings and giftings. 
 
This is important because I cannot function in your calling, but must be about my own.  You are not gifted to do what I do.  You must embrace your own ministry design.  We need the wisdom to realize that our gifts and our perspective are not the FULL answer.  We will often need to be very discerning in how we move forward.  Invariably, it will be important to function in teams and to humbly show deference to others who are involved.
  

Have you ever recognized how the Bible often combines things that we usually separate?  Like: “Full of grace and truth”   “Speaking the truth in love….”  “Showing mercy…hating even the garment polluted…’ We tend to polarize on one end or the other.  For instance:       

 The mercy motivated/gifted person, senses the hurts and brokenness of others and feels compelled to support them, most importantly helping them  to feel loved and accepted.      

 The prophetically motivated/gifted person, senses the sinful thought patterns and untruths that have locked a person into a sinful lifestyle, and desires to help them walk in victory.      

 We will often see people with these two very different giftings in conflict over how to appropriately deal with a particular person or how to handle a particular ministry situation.  Both perspectives are true and needed.  But they need to work with a humble appreciation of one another. This is why we need every member in the body engaged in ministry.      

 I think Paul and Barnabas had conflict because their primary giftings and callings were a bit different – a difference most radically seen when relating to the peculiar needs manifested in John Mark’s life.      

 More tomorrow.

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