The Holy Spirit’s Gifts Must Be Opened and Used

My husband is hard to shop for. He has simple tastes and knows what he likes. Over the years I have tried and tried to find the perfect gift he would really love and use. I’ve attempted to be clever, tapping into his interests, hoping to come up with something he would enjoy. I have had little success in thirty-eight years.

About ten years ago I was looking for an item I thought he might have put into one of his drawers. I started rummaging through his dresser and low and behold I came upon his past gift stash, many of which I had given to him which were still in their original packaging. I was surprised, but mostly perturbed and hurt.

Men and women are different regarding their approach to an unwanted gift. Women might consider exchanging it or pretend to like it, then give it away accidently on purpose. Guys are comfortable with tucking it away, out of sight out of mind.

What do we do when it comes to spiritual gifts given to us? In Isaiah 11:1-3, we read about the seven gifts typically associated with Confirmation. St. Paul in Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Cor 12 writes about more of these spiritual gifts which are given by the Spirit “for some benefit… distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.”

These gifts given by the Holy Spirit are referred to as “charisms.” As Baptized persons we are all given these supernatural gifts, so that we might be supernatural instruments for God. Charisms are meant to be given away. They are not for us, rather, they are outward focused, to build up the Kingdom of God.

Often our charisms lay dormant, undiscovered, and unused. We may misunderstand or assume that they are only for those charismatic people, or people more gifted or holier than I. Nothing could be further from the truth. We often reject these incredible gifts simply by not taking the time to learn more, pray, and ask God to show us how He wants to use us. Charisms are God working through us in practical ways.

People often inquire why the mighty miracles in Scripture don’t happen any longer? One answer might be that we simply are not open to the charisms the Lord has given us. Jesus said to the Disciples in John 12:14, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these…”

Greater than what Jesus did on earth? Wow, that should make us sit right up and pay attention.

In the world of charisms, it’s use them or lose them. Additionally, it might seem kind of weird to be given gifts that really aren’t for us. Yet, these amazing gifts of the Holy Spirit are in fact gifts that feel pretty awesome when “exercised” and given away.

It’s like a double bonus. We get the grace of the gifts, and we get the joy that comes when giving them away as we observe the incredible fruit the Spirit bears from that effort.

The Holy Spirit has such a generous desire to gift us, allowing us to be collaborators in God’s good work for humanity. Each unique and distinctive human person is given the opportunity and chance to open the gift of their charisms and radically make a difference simply by saying “Yes Lord- use me!”

By each of us choosing to discern, test, and exercise our charisms we work harmoniously together like a symphony playing the Lord’s beautiful music. We must realize that we each have a part to play. Our diversity is ordered to unity, just like a symphony. The closer we come in our relationship with Jesus, we increase in holiness, and the charisms increase in power and purity.

I am reminded of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 when the Master is pleased at the efforts to use the talents given, “Well done my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities, come and share your master’s joy… for everyone who has, more will be given, and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Where do I begin you might ask? There are several inventories available that point you in the right direction of discovery. The “St. Catherine of Siena Institute” has done incredible work in this area through their Called and Gifted Seminars. There is also a free online inventory I found that is very helpful from the Paulist Fathers at St. Austin’s Catholic Church in Austin, Texas.

Charisms must be discerned, tested, yearned and prayed for. Pick one and experiment with it for a while. Pay attention how you feel, what people are saying to you, and any extraordinary fruit that comes from this effort. It takes time to truly assess if there is a charism present. Do this with the charisms you believe you have been gifted with. Does it grow stronger? Are you at peace or conflicted? Do you feel closer or further from God? Then ask God in prayer, to show you how to put your charisms to work.

Using our charisms will bring us great happiness and joy as we glimpse the fruit that comes from service to the Lord. It all starts with our yes to God. Don’t let the Lord find all the good gifts he has given you unopened.

Barbara Lishko works full time as a Lay Catholic Marriage Minister. She and her husband Mark, an ordained Deacon, have been married for 35 years and are blessed with five young adult children, whose lives grow and expand through marriage and grandchildren.

Through the inspiration of her family, work in the Catholic Church and wacky life experiences her dream of writing was born. She is the recipient of the Diocese of Phoenix St Terese of Lisieux award. Barbara can be reached at blishko_58@yahoo.com