Gifts, Passions and Personality

giftsI think I know myself pretty well (a statement for me that comes with the confidence of the mid-thirties…I love this decade!). I’ve taken every practically every personality, spiritual gifts and strengths test there is and could spit out a series of letters and words to describe my make-up and gifts (ESFJ, Maximizer, Activator, Input, Wisdom, Encouragement, Administration and Otter are a few results from a variety of my past tests). These letters and words help me know that I enjoy being with people, getting things done, having insight into relationships and situations and can orchestrate the heck out of a project. I know I’m passionate about music, health, the outdoors, making life more beautiful, and encouraging women. All this knowledge gives me focus and helps me be a better mother, employee, friend, spouse, and church family member. But…I think I’ve been missing the point.

Only our amazing God could design each one of us with a very unique set of gifts, passions and personalities. And I get a lot of enjoyment out of the gifts and passions He’s given me. But he didn’t do it with the ultimate goal of giving me a great life of living out my potential and dreams. He did it to bring glory to himself.

He has given us our gifts and our make-up to influence our piece of the globe in the way that only each one of us can. He wants you and I to play a role in bringing his glory forward on earth. It’s going to look a little different for everyone, but our purpose is shared. As Jennie Allen points out in her Bible study, Restless,

God’s chief pursuit is that his glory, through us, would fill the earth. Everyone of our unique callings will display hints of the glory of our God.

A way to think about glory:  the visible expression of God’s character on this earth.

So…my gifts are not for myself, they are to bring Christ glory. They’re so I may live a life that points to his character. “So whatever I do, I do it it all for the glory of God,” paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 10:31.

It’s not that I haven’t known that forever, in some sense. How many times have I read 1 Corinthians 12,  the passage about spiritual gifts, and one body, many parts? The Bible assures us that we are all like one body, with many parts, and that each part, no matter how un-glamorous, is essential to the well-being of the whole body. (Well, maybe except the appendix guy). So I got that— my gifts contribute to the well-being of the body of believers.  But really the gifts in action of the whole body are to further this ultimate purpose. I didn’t really make the connection until I continued on from Corinthians Chapter 12 into 13 to get the rest of the story.

1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter and popular wedding reading, illuminates the idea of how our gifts play out for God’s glory in a way I hadn’t thought about before. It’s not just about the body, it’s because we’re aren’t complete yet on earth. We aren’t truly experiencing ALL of Christ’s glory because we also have the effects of sin. “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears,” I Corinthians 13:9-10

When completeness comes…. Ahh, now I see.

When completeness comes—that is being with Jesus himself in heaven in a perfect new state that He will bestow upon each believer—we will no longer need our gifts, because we have the thing that gifts point us all to. Our glorious Savior. The only thing left will be love (v.13). We only need gifts on earth, where we are absent from that completeness in Christ and his full glory isn’t evident to all….yet.

Where does that leave me and all my personality and gifts tests? Knowing my gifts and executing my life to the best of my ability is simply not enough; if I am understanding the purpose of them, it changes my approach. As I do something now (blog, volunteer, work outside the home, take care of my family, facilitate a Bible study, work out…whatever it is) I have to check my motives, “Am I doing this for the glory of me or the glory of God?” It’s hard to find any situation that doesn’t have at least partially mixed motives, but I know that now that I’ve been convicted of in this area, the Holy Spirit can continue to work.

It doesn’t mean you or I can’t imagine big things for our lives, or that we can’t enjoy living out the passions and gifts God has given uniquely to us. I’d love to speak to women about spiritual things someday. Or maybe write a book. Or have a women’s backpacking ministry. But in realizing that the ultimate goal of any dream is to bring God glory, not myself, I am freer than ever to live a life that He can shine through. He is the sun and I am the moon, my light is only a reflection of His.




  1. I love this post! 1 Corinthians 10:31 is my motto verse for my photography business. It’s a good reminder to me to give glory to God. With an art like photography, when people tell me that my work is beautiful, it’s hard not to feel pride. I have to remind myself that it’s not me, but God who uses me to create the images. It’s like when people tell me, “Your camera takes nice pictures.” It makes me laugh because someone without my knowledge would not yield the same result on my camera. What my camera is to me, I am to God; an instrument to be used for great things. Without God and all his greatness, I would just be one, underexposed, out of focus picture after another.

    • Oh my goodness, I love the metaphor here. It’s so, so true and one that you will carry with you as you do your work. I think we forget that we can still have joy in the beauty/art, even if we don’t get/deserve the glory. Your pictures ARE beautiful, because God gave you those eyes and that heart to take them. And your capturing images of His beautiful creations. What a gift to be able to do that. Man, you playing the Glory Giver at VBS this week and everything, God is bringing this topic up all over the place!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing what The Lord is teaching you in this season, Heidi. It’s such a blessing!

  3. Excellent blog! I have been coming to some of these same conclusions through studying the life of Joseph. Sometimes the glory of God doesn’t look like self-fulfillment or even the opportunity to use my gifts. I have dreams and aspirations, try to live my life with passion, try to use my gifts, but all with the goal of glorifying HIM. Therefore my dreams, aspirations, passion and gifts must be held loosely. I blogged about this last week!

    • Thanks, Don…that means a lot! I just went back and read your blog, thanks! I love how this seems to be the “hot topic” in my life right now. In what we’re studying at church, in my Bible study, even at VBS it was a theme…. it’s so easy to forget that all that we are is His. That may mean joyful times, it may mean suffering. It certainly doesn’t allow for pride in our own efforts and frees us from comparisons and jealousy. I’m so glad that I’m encountering this truth with a fresh perspective…I needed to!