29 June 2007

Friday Five: Gifts and Talents

Our Circuit (Methodist) is having a "Gifts and talents day" tomorrow- we have a minister visiting from another circuit who has modified the Myers Briggs personality test and added a few things of his own to run a day where we get to look at ourselves in the light of giftings and of the whole church. The idea is to encourage everyone with the news that there is room for you in the ministry of the church- and perhaps to discover where that ministry might be.....It should be an interesting day, and one where I hope people will leave feeling encouraged and challenged...So with gifts and talents in mind here is today's Friday 5;

1. Personality tests: love them or hate them?
I'd have to say neither. When I was working in camping ministry, we did a couple of simplified Myers-Briggs tests during summer staff training for a few years, and it always seemed like the tests either enabled people's aberrant behavior ("you can't criticize me, it's just who I am!") or it was crushing to people who weren't the life of the party ("see, it really IS me - no wonder kids like Johnny Popular better than me..."). I was one of the people enabled the first couple of times, but when I got to management level it was just annoying. I think there is definitely value in self-awareness and self-understanding, but we are no more captive to being INFJ or whatever than we are captive to anything else (other than sin, of course - no personality test is going to take care of that problem).

2. Would you describe yourself as practical, creative, intellectual, or a mixture?
Definitely a mixture. I have my creative moments, but I certainly tend more toward the practical and intellectual end of things. Perhaps you could say that I am creative in regards to vision and holistic stuff - I like to think of ways to use the creativity of others in ways they may not have considered possible. But I'm a sorter and function junkie - I crave order and predictability and cleanliness, which as you can imagine has made parenthood a bit overwhelming at times.

3. It is said that everyone has their 15 minutes of fame: have you had yours yet? If so, what was it? If not, dream away: what would you like it to be?
I'm not sure how to answer this question. Being a pastor with a tendency toward speaking out, I've been quoted often in newspapers and the like. Like many of us, I've come to understand that I'm almost always in the public eye, even when I would rather not. But it's always been in a commentary or protesting role, not for something I've done or accomplished. So, let me dream: I'd love to have my remaining minutes rise from inspiring a congregation or ministry to dream about what it could be and then helping that dream come to life.

4. If you were given a two year sabbatical (oh, the dream of it!) to create something, would it be music, literature, art...something completely different? Share your dream.
Definitely literature. I've had a book idea rattling around in my head for almost two years now, and I'd love to think that someday I could bring it to fruition. But it might take an extended sabbatical or a major kick in the ass to help it happen: being anal retentive, I tend to lose forests for trees and distract myself out of the creative process. It's happened several times when I've tried to get going on this book project. But hope springs eternal.

5. Describe a talent you would like to develop, but seems completely beyond you:
Songwriting, definitely songwriting. I can write sermons, fiction, poetry, what have you, but putting words down with music just escapes me for some reason. I can sing, and I can write, but thus far whatever skill or innate talent allows the two to be combined just hasn't clicked for me. Maybe that would be a better project for the two year sabbatical?

Bonus question: Back to the church. What does "every member ministry" mean to you? Is it truly possible to encourage/implement?
"Every member ministry" is a dream for most of us pastors, and for me it means exactly what it says: that every member of the church would realize that he/she has gifts and talents for the proclamation of the gospel and take it upon herself/himself to develop and use those gifts/talents for proclamation. Is it truly possible? Yes: I've seen it working in various settings. Is it easy? Not in the least, in my particular denomination (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), because we've trained ourselves to think that only ministers do ministry and everyone else is permitted to stop learning and just watch from confirmation until the grave. It's one of the most frustrating aspects of my job, knowing that folks come to church just to be told that they still have their tickets to heaven punched and ready to go. But I keep hoping that the Spirit will awaken the church to her mission for the kingdom of God in this world, and if that can happen through me, well, that's just peachy. :-)

The picture is our favorite group, Storyhill, singing at a concert in Montana. That's a skill I have developed that I'd love to put to use: singing with Chris & Johnny is a dream of mine!


  1. Love that dream- as for the book- looks like there are a few books bubbling away amongst us....it would be great to see them all published!

  2. It's so interesting how many of us have musical dreams.

  3. great play!

    i hope you're able to get working on that book, before that sabbatical comes along! hoping the sabbatical comes along as well!

    your 15 minutes of fame dream is beautiful, seriously beautiful.

  4. You mean there is no EZ-pass to the pearly gates? (that could be a title of a book right there) Writing - Faith - Reading - Music you're a regular Renaissance Rev!

  5. I love to hear your skills, dreams re: writing. Have you published any? (other than getting quotes in the paper).

    Also, I like your taste in music (esp. the Wailin' Jennys)

  6. Songwriting. What a great idea.