Talent vs. Character
By: Bryan Nutman
Don’t shoot me down in flames!
The role of character is one of the most difficult areas to discuss regarding spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:4–11) and the revelatory gifts (prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discerning of spirits). Our character needs to be in a place to uphold these gifts! Although, you may want to shoot me down in flames, why do I make this bold statement right off the bat? My personal view and understanding are that motive is directly linked to character, and we need character and integrity to steward the gifts to glorify God, and not to just glorify ourselves!
Seek the Giver of the gifts.
Sometimes we start out having good intentions by desiring these precious gifts, and that’s what we should do. Even Paul says we are to earnestly desire to operate in the best spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:31). Unfortunately, however, I have seen too many times that this initial motive becomes miscued by undeveloped character. I have seen believers start to chase after the gifts—and then signs and miracles—in a way that points people to themselves and not back to the “Giver of the gifts and miracles.” This is wrong in so many ways, especially if the person is called into leadership within the ministry and others recognize the gifting or anointing on them.
Learn how to operate in the gifts correctly.
I am all for believers operating in the gifts in a stronger and more supernatural way, especially when it demonstrates to others that it could have only been God who has done this through them. But what I do find difficult is when someone is released to flow in the gifts too quickly and they are elevated to a place where they are not accountable to anyone. This is dangerous within the modern-day church, where saints chase after someone with a visible gift because they want a word or miracle. This is not good, as it can turn this person over to pride and self-performance very quickly if they are not grounded in their relationship with the Godhead, His Word, and the knowledge of how to operate in the fruits of the Spirit, as clearly detailed in Galatians 5:22–23 (New King James Version).
Remember, accountability doesn’t mean you have to be under the thumb of a particular mentor or leader. But it does mean that you give an account of your abilities to someone who is a seasoned leader/minister. This is an important safeguard, especially if an anointed person is called to be part of the five-fold ministry and operate in the office of a gift.
Pride can lead to downfall.
If you look at the former verses in Galatians chapter five (vv. 19–21), there can be dire consequences of our fleshly actions if they are left unattended. If an immature, but gifted, believer is not accountable and is raised up into high levels of leadership without the correct stewardship, bad things will ensue for the minster and those who are being ministered to. I am not saying that this anointed Christian won’t go to heaven because of their miscued views and because they incorrectly flowed in their gifts. But I do feel that they won’t be operating in all that the kingdom has for them here on this earth or, perhaps, during their lifetime.
Remain humble before God.
God is God and we at all times should be cognizant of His desires and His ways, and not of our own. Let’s face it; we became sanctified and His alone when we gave our lives to Him. So, that’s how we should operate—in complete humility. Just look at Jesus (John 5:19–20, NKJV)! During our whole lives, we should remain humble before God and teachable by man. That shouldn’t just characterize the moment we were saved.
Character building takes time.
The only way to really see these truths is to renew our minds to them in the Word of God. Below are a number of verses to read and meditate on regarding godly character and humility. I think these are areas we can all grow in. Remember, it’s not an overnight progression. Character development takes time and is proven through life’s situations and circumstances. We must be intentional to grow in integrity, humility, and godly character. In this way we can start to steward the gifts of the Spirit in ways that will bring true glory to God.
Preparation time is never wasted time.
Do not look at delays as being an issue; look at them as preparation time! Preparing your character today is essential to becoming the person God has called you to be for tomorrow. If you truly want to walk in His grace, love, and all the gifts, then your character and integrity will be tested for purity and longevity.
Please take time to read and ponder on these scriptures below:
- 1 Peter 5:5–6
- James 4:10
- 2 Timothy 2:15–21
- Philippians 2:15
- Ephesians 4:22–24
- Colossians 1:10–12
- Romans 5:3–5
- 1 Corinthians 3:12–15
- Colossians 3:12–15
- Romans 8:14
Remember, “Let your words be the genuine picture of your heart” (John Wesley (1826)The Works of the Rev. John Wesley: Forty-two sermons on various subjects, p. 264).