Identifying Our God-Given Charisms

My mama always said, life was like a box o’ chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Most of us know this famous quote from the titular character in the movie Forrest Gump. While the movie came out in 1994 and the book came out in 1986, it still holds relevance today. Most interpret the saying to mean that life is full of surprises and you can’t predict what life will throw at you. While that’s true to a degree, maybe it doesn’t always need to be the case.

Josh Raymond welcomed Father Marcel Taillon onto The Inner Life to discuss the idea of getting to know ourselves and our gifts, our “box of chocolates” as it were, and using those gifts in productive ways to spread the Faith and help the Church.

The first thing Josh brought up was the difference between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the personal gifts he is referring to, charisms. Father Marcel explained, “So, we have the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, you know gentleness, kindness, humility, and we want to strive to kind of live that life and be open to the pouring out that we receive at our personal Pentecost. But, we all have personal charisms and, that is, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ Himself has endowed each one of us with particular charisms, particular gifts, that are oftentimes undiscovered for some time in life…” These gifts are specifically tailored to God’s plan for our lives and we have a duty to identify these talents and help them bear fruit.

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Everybody has a myriad of charisms and they manifest themselves in different ways when we serve Christ in our work, our study, our leisure, our prayer, and our relationships. While we may have heard the word “charism” more associated with religious orders and their mission, each member of that order also has their personal, particular charisms. Father Marcel returned to the chocolate metaphor, saying that just as each type of chocolate is different, looks different, and tastes different, so too are our gifts from God. They perform in surprising ways.

Identifying the charism of others is as important as recognizing our own. To that point, we need to know how others function best to help them help others in the Church function at their highest capacity. We are all equally responsible for curating the environment in which the Faith grows and reaches others. It cannot be an independent venture in which we only worry about our personal duties and leave the rest up in the air. “We have to be open to the Holy Spirit teaching us, revealing, and encouraging us to use the charisms God’s given us to give God glory, but to help our brothers and sister, especially others in the Body of Christ.”

In terms of identifying charisms as well as opening ourselves to the Lord to receive new ones, Father Marcel emphasized that we should not limit our vision to gifts of explicit or physical ministry and socialization. While that may in fact be how we are individually called to use our personality, by showing Christ to others in proactive apostolate, we should not limit our mentality to that. Our charism may come in the form of sanctification, mortifications, sacrifice, suffering in union with God. It may come in the form of our gravitation toward humility, gratitude, simple acts of charity. As Father mentioned before, our arsenals of charisms are different and unique.

Father Marcel told a story of an event he recently attended with the Knights of Columbus, a dinner hosted for adults with disabilities. One of the knights approached Father Marcel and told him that these events for the disabled are his favorite types of ministry. Over 40 years ago, this knight was in his confirmation program and the priest asked them all what type of outreach would make them uncomfortable. He responded that he had difficulty with disabled people. In response, the priest sent him to complete his program at a home for disabled children. After a very difficult first day, he opened himself to the experience, and he discovered one of his charisms. “He said, ‘Look at me now. I live [for this.] This is what fills me the most — is this ministry. I never guessed the one thing I was afraid of is where I’d find my most joy in serving Christ.’”

Listen to the full conversation below:

Discerning Our Gifts

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.