Speaking of Gifts (Advent 2017)


And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. …And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie…[for] he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” – Mark 1:4, 7-8


Guest post by Sharon Correll

Quite a number of years ago God spoke to me about some kind of prophetic gifting or role. He spoke it first through a close friend and mentor and then confirmed through what seemed a really miraculous event.

I’ll confess I was tremendously excited! I loved the idea of hearing the voice of God and speaking things to people for their blessing and edification. Most of all, the prospect of participating in a kind of miraculous ministry, something that required the direct participation of the Holy Spirit, was thrilling to me.

But like many things in life, the reality never looked quite like what I expected. I do believe I have a kind of prophetic gifting, but it feels a lot more “natural” and less spectacular than what I imagined.

I’ve also realized that there is a cost to most kinds of ministry, especially prophetic ministry. We see this in the life of John the Baptist and other Biblical characters such as Jeremiah. While John had a ministry of great impact, it only was possible because he was willing to embrace the required hardships and disadvantages. John had to live a counter-cultural lifestyle, devoid of the relationships and comforts that most of his family and community would expect. He spoke hard messages that were not always welcomed and made people feel uncomfortable. In the end, he paid the ultimate price – a horrifying death at the hand of his political enemy.

Some spiritual gifts are more popular than others. The “mercy person” is always well-loved. The gifted administrator or teacher is admired, and a server or giver will often receive acknowledgment. Personally, I have a gift leading worship, and I admit it feels good to be appreciated for that role!

But when a prophet speaks a difficult exhortation – even when the person to whom it’s spoken is receptive and takes the message to heart – the prophet does not usually get thanked!

It’s been humbling for me to realize that not only were my expectations of my gifting unrealistic, but there have been times that I have been daunted by the cost of exercising even my own mediocre gift.

Fortunately, God is much more realistic! He knows us better than we do ourselves, and he knows what level of both gifting and responsibility to entrust us with. Regardless of whether that is large, tiny, or just kind of mediocre, like John the Baptist we have the privilege of calling people to join in the Kingdom that Jesus is building among us.


About the Author

Sharon Correll serves with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Non-Roman Script Initiative working to develop computer technology that will allow the Bible to be translated into languages that use complex scripts.