The wrong spiritual gift?

The wrong spiritual gift? July 13, 2011

Update: for anyone who’d like to read my male friend’s personal thoughts on this issue, check out today’s guest post: “Conquering with kindness!”

I am not a fan of gender roles, as anyone who’s been reading my blog lately knows. As a women, I am constantly presented with expectations that I either cannot, or do not wish to live up to.

But gender roles are bad for men too.

A few weeks ago, I had a discussion with a male friend of mine (who gave me permission to anonymously write about him) about our spiritual gifts and how to put them to good use.

My friend, frustrated, admitted to me, “I feel like I have the wrong spiritual gift.”

His spiritual gift is kindness.

And we live in a world where kindness is not manly.

Men are supposed to be rough and tough. Men are supposed to get into fights and  conquer things. This is a prevailing attitude, both in society and in church.

Famous church pastors encourage us to follow a “prize fighter” Jesus who is looking for bad-ass, testosterone-driven disciples. Men are told to “step up” and be leaders. To be powerful and forceful. Men in egalitarian marriages are thought of as “whipped,” or even emasculated. They are told that “nice guys” finish last.

Kindness is the wrong spiritual gift for a man.

“Real” men have the spiritual gift of leadership.

Now, let me be clear: all of us, at some point or another in our lives are going to have to “step up” and be leaders for some reason. I am not saying that it’s okay for any of us to shirk those responsibilities. I am also not saying that you must be forceful, or “hyper-masculine”  to be a leader (that’s just a silly concept that, unfortunately, some influential preachers hold to now-a-days).

But the church should be the first to recognize the power of kindness. Instead, we tend to view it as a weak, feminine trait (I won’t even get into how degrading that is to women).

It is incorrect to assume that kindness = weakness…

…that men who aren’t natural-born leaders are immature…

…that men who aren’t powerful and dominating are effeminate….

…that nice guys finish last…

My friend has now come to realize that he has exactly the spiritual gift that God wants him to have. When we talked today, he told me that he has realized that “kindness is not a sign of weakness, but it’s a sign of strength, self-confidence and security.”

God doesn’t give people the wrong spiritual gifts. And there are no spiritual gifts that are more important (or more masculine) than others.

Christ is the great equalizer. We are all one in him.

What about you, readers? Have you ever wished for a different spiritual gift? Have you ever been unsatisfied with the abilities that God gave you?

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  • The whole idea of the “warrior” for Christ, the Jesus as a cage fighter is so not biblical. Peter Rollins says these images lead us to do violence to each other, maybe not physical violence, but violence to the heart and soul. Rollins says that this is the violence of the coward, like the man who beats his wife. Says that this is an impotent violence. He goes on to say that the violence of Christianity, the violence of Jesus is a greater violence and aimed at the powers and principalities, a violence that subverts the systems of this world.

    Those who would say that “leadership” is a masculine trait I am pretty sure are confusing leadership for management. These hypermasculine, cage fighter “leaders” are merely managers and not leaders. And bad managers at that. They seem to promote a management that is violent, that seeks to control, to oppress which is violent. Management is what Pilate and the council that tried Jesus engaged in. Managers seek to maintain the status quo while leaders seek to blaze new ground, look for new ideas.

    I get what you are saying about kindness and how it is perceived in society and the church. I don’t blame society for being society and accepting the kindness is weakness, kindness is a feminine trait, etc. But I do fault the church for facilitating such erroneous attitudes. Kindness IS a fruit of the Spirit. Jesus was kind, and I doubt any Christian would call Him weak.

    Your friend is right when he says, “kindness is not a sign of weakness, but it’s a sign of strength, self-confidence and security.” Especially in the face of the erroneous, yet prevalent view within society and the church.

  • “What about you, readers? Have you ever wished for a different spiritual gift? Have you ever been unsatisfied with the abilities that God gave you?”

    I’m still trying to figure out my gifts, honestly! lol!

    As such, I’ve been able to know a lot of guys who were kind leaders, as such. Not necessarily OMG!official preachers, but they were confident enough to lead bible studies when necessary.

    I know guys pick on each other about stuff, but it’s rarely ever actually serious. Helping the homeless, or doing pretty much anything else humanitarian is considered an act of kindness, and I hear more preachers preaching for folks TO do these things, rather than avoid them.

    • Yes! kind leaders are needed.

      It’s good to know that some churches encourage kindness in men. Unfortunately, I and my male friend have not had similar experiences. But it’s good to know that there is hope!

  • Ladybugred

    So wordpress has blocked me from my site how sad. I totaly agree kindness for a man is great.

    Sorry this nezt statement is random and please dont judge, giggle yes idk it is kinda funny for i do not seem like this type of girl. But i watch wwe wrestling and the mask on Jesus is a Rey Mysterio mask. Not like you care,but hes my in my top five wrestlers and i had to giggle a lil

    • oh no! Why are you blocked? that’s sad.

      But, I do so care! I don’t know anything about wrestling, but I feel like I am a better person for knowing that bit of information. Plus, my boyfriend (as kind as he is) is a big wrestling fan, and I can impress him with my knowledge now! haha

  • I am spiritually gifted with loving people unconditionally. And while that is sometimes awesome and all well and good, sometimes I wish I had someone in my life who had that same spiritual gift to show towards me. I know God’s unconditional love is really all I need, and it is wonderful. But every once in awhile I feel really lonely, and I wish that I had more friends who really loved me no matter who or what I am at the moment.

    • yeah, I know what you mean. It’s hard for me too, having moved around so much. I know I have people who do love me, but most of them (like you!) live so far away! I know I’m not close by but I love who Heather Harris is!

      • Thanks Sarah. It’s just hard because the people I’m closest to, the people who I hold most dear have given up on me several times, and even though they come back there’s still that voice in the back of my mind screaming at me that they won’t always be there, that they didn’t love me enough to stay, and it ruins everything. It’s hard to combat. It makes me want to abandon my spiritual gift altogether because it feels like it just ends up hurting me more than it helps anyone else. It’s a hard one to deal with.

  • It is really hard to be a woman (or man) who does not fit into Christian stereotypes of their gender. I have always struggled with this and finally I just realized: I am exactly as God made me and intended me to be. I am not a model of “Biblical womanhood” what ever that is but I am a child of God and that is good enough for me. I have no idea what my spiritual gift is either, I envy those who do but that is a sin and I should repent. Also by total awesome coincidence, I posted on a related topic.

    • You know, sometimes I think we put too much emphasis on spiritual gifts. Mine is definitely discernment, and it’s obvious for me. But it’s not obvious for everyone. Some people are jacks of all trades, and there’s nothing wrong with that!