Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gifts of the Spirit - the Gospel Principles Discussion in my HP Group

I did it again in our last high priest group meeting. I made a comment that drew odd looks from my fellow group members.

We were reading in the Gospel Principles manual, Chapter 22 in which some of the gifts of the spirit are enumerated and discussed. I had taught this lesson earlier this year in the Gospel Essentials class and had appreciated the simple discussion of the gifts in that forum. But I was just a little bothered in our high priest group that we were rarely stepping beyond the words on the page as we read.

Finally when we read, "Every person can have a testimony through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit," under the heading The Gift of Knowing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, I decided to speak.

I've written here repeatedly about my understanding that we don't all have each gift of the spirit, and I believe that in my own experience I have sometimes felt one gift when I needed and then another at a different time.

I suggested that while it's true we may all have some testimony of the Savior, those testimonies may not look the same. The answer one person gets to the promise in Moroni 10:4 may come differently than it does for someone else. Some will more easily say they know; others will believe.

I assumed I'd get broad agreement, particularly since D&C 46:11-12 says, "For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby,” and the lesson manual quoted those verses on the next page.

I was surprised, however, that some suggested that I was wrong. One brother suggested that this particular gift was a requirement for all. Others suggested that all could get the same answer equally. I suppose that in theory God could choose to do that if He wants to, but my experience is that it does not happen that way. And it's ok that it doesn't.

The Gospel Principles manual continues: "To develop our gifts, we must find out which gifts we have…. We should seek after the best gifts." I agree that there is value in understanding what gifts we have, and petitioning the Lord for those we need. And for recognizing them when they come, even if only temporarily in response to a particular need.


  1. I love having actual "discussions" in Priesthood meetings, if only because people then turn on their brains and think.

  2. I agree, CC! A few weeks ago I asked a question about "always" having the spirit with us that created a great deal of discussion -- give and take -- and made the lesson far more interesting for me.

    I'm cautious about doing that too often, though, because I really don't want to derail a teacher's lesson, but I do weary of the "ready, aim, read" method of teaching.

  3. It seems like such a familiar lesson, and yet I think it hasn't really sunk in -- there's the puzzlement/disagreement over your legitimate comment, and there's this that has come up in the three times in the last year when we've had a "gifts" related lesson: "I don't know what gift I have. What is my gift?" I find that especially poignant when the one asking the question is an older (70s or 80s) person, because it seems like someone has gone through a very long life without either fully knowing himself or having the full benefit of using his gift. So I brought it up in Sunday School again this last week when I taught about Esther (I worked it in through the "who knows but that you have come into the kingdom for such a moment as this" part of her story, and we talked about what *we* could do in our moment). This time I called on people I thought I could count on, some of them in their 90s, even, to tell how they had found their gifts. The common thread was that they hadn't always realized their gifts at the time, but as they looked back and recognized where their successes had been, what had made them the happiest, they finally realized they had a gift in those areas.

    Anyway, for all the talk we give to this idea, some of us really haven't understood it yet. Kudos to you for breaking out of the "ready, aim, read" mold and trying to get class members to realize what the words mean.

  4. And what about D&C 46:13-14, which clearly (to me) indicates that our testimonies will have different sources, & different depths:

    "To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful."

  5. Ah, Robin, don't go muddying it up with scriptures! LOL.

    When I taught this lesson in Gospel Essentials, I started with the scriptures, not the GP manual. In our HP group, we tend to start (and end) with the lesson manual (sigh). (Except when I teach...)

    Ardis, I was pleased that the GP manual DOES talk about sorting out what one's gift is (we just didn't get that far in our lesson -- probably because I derailed the lesson too soon...).

  6. Robin V nailed the issue that you raised.

    In our HP group, I pointed out that in Bishop Edgely's latest conference talk, he insists that faith is a choice not a gift. (Yes, he explicitly says that it is not a gift.) The group members actually came up with a satisfactory response to that, but I'm already fuzzy on what is was. Probably something like "the propensity to believe is a gift, but acting on that belief (i.e., exercising faith) is a choice."

    Which raises the question, "If I found the discussion stimulating, but can't remember it's outcome, is there really any point in having stimulating discussions?"

  7. Paul, I couldn't agree more! Belief is a gift, Knowledge is another gift. I kinda feel like knowledge is fruit of practiced belief...but you are right about belief being a gift and we all have different gifts.