When I was a teacher I began each of my classes with a personal question that the students would answer on a note card. These questions ranged from surface level things like “what’s your favorite cereal?” to more philosophical things like “Do the ends justify the means? Explain”. The most difficult questions for students to answer are the same questions that I find most difficult to answer myself: “What do you like about yourself? What are you good at?”
Cue a room full of squirming teenagers plus one squirming pseudo-adult.
These questions are uncomfortable for us because we are not horn tooters. Christians are supposed to be humble right? We don’t brag, that’s so “of the world”. Plus, who has time to consider what you’re good at when there’s an unrelenting series of shortcomings all up in your grill everyday? We say a rehearsed line like, “the only thing good in me is God in me” as our token answer while we try to squeeze ourselves into some ethereal Christian lady cookie cutter. We want our skills to include sewing scarlet robes for our families, laughing at days to come, and vineyard planting and what not. Sometimes we too busy trying to be who we ought to be that we overlook who we are.
Humility is not neglecting to figure out these things about ourselves; humility is recognizing the giver, the curator, the creator as the one who has crafted us in such a way on purpose and for a purpose.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10)
Neglecting to learn yourself, your wirings, your personality, your gifts etc. is not “thinking less of yourself” or “thinking of yourself less often” or however the quote goes; it’s just plain irresponsible. What’s worse perhaps is neglecting to learn yourself because you’re too busy trying to acquire gifts and strengths that you think you should have… some other girl’s gifts and strengths. Humility is recognizing that God crafted your personality (Psalm 139: 13-16); He gave you specific gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11); He is the one who empowers us to use our gifts (1 Corinthians 12:6); those gifts are the manifestation of Him in us (1 Corinthians 12:7). Basically, your gifts and personality were not some happenstance of the Cosmos, but intentionally crafted and entrusted to you.
So it’s ironic that we feel a subconscious nudge to downplay our gifts in the name of manners, because bragging is tacky. By doing so, downplaying our gifts, implies that we think we had something to do with acquiring these gifts in the first place. 1 Peter 4 tells us otherwise, and that we are to use our gifts in order that in everything God may be glorified, not us, since glory and dominion belong to Him, forever and ever… can we get an amen?
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10-11).
If we are to love God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our strength, then it seems necessary that we should get to know ourselves so that we can do these things well. You have to know yourself to know your needs so that you can set yourself up for success to love like that.
Let’s consider how to steward well what’s been entrusted to us, specifically as it pertains to our personalities and our gifts. To steward something is to guard, protect, and be responsible for something of value, in this instance, our gifts and personalities.
If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend taking a personality test to learn a little about yourself and your wiring. People swear by these two: Enneagram, Myers Briggs . Now, it should be noted that taking an online test is not going to immediately unlock the secrets to your soul, nor should they be interpreted as absolute truth. They will simply serve as a guide to help you recognize things you may already know about yourself and how to grow in your personality.
Throughout my testings, have learned that I am an ENFP, 7, Otter, I’m an ideation station and an adapter, I’m Felicity of the American Girl Dolls, and according to Buzzfeed my Harry Potter character is Luna Lovegood. I love these quizzes and I take them all the time. They all tell me the same sort of things: I’m extroverted, I love to have fun, I love to make people laugh, I’m free spirited, and I get along with people easily. Those are the positive things that I already know about myself. Then they also have the audacity to tell me what my weaknesses are as well: I’m slightly less than organized, discipline is not my strong suit, and things like facts, numbers, and details are pitfalls for me. Oh, and I’m most likely to struggle with gluttony and impulsivity. YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE, ENNEAGRAM! Now pass the chips.
These tell me about my personality, potential strengths and weaknesses, and are helpful for me to see areas I can develop and grow. My gifts are different. These, scripture tells us, are the manifestation of the Spirit in us. We all have them and they are likened to the function of a body with different parts (1 Corinthians 12). Some of my gifts coincide with my personality, and some don’t. The way I am wired and what I am gifted with are two different things. I have the gifts of writing and teaching. These things come naturally to me and I’m good at them. I can say that without feeling arrogant, recognizing that they have nothing to do with me. God chose them for me. He’s given you gifts too—and I would recommend looking to scripture and asking your circle of people what your gifts might be if you don’t know already. That aside, just because He chose to give me these gifts does not mean that they are necessarily conducive to my personality. Writing, in particular, is a very isolated job. It requires little things like discipline, focus, details (not my strong suits). For the most part, writers work alone and don’t see anyone unless they go out of their way to do so. That said, I have had to learn what my needs are (i.e. human interaction because I’m an extrovert) and learn what my weaknesses are (discipline and details) so that I can steward my gift of writing well. When I first started writing full time, I was using my gift, but staying home all day every day and never interacting with anyone except Jesus and the occasional barista. Though I was using my gift I was also neglecting to take care of my needs, which in turn negatively affected my writing. All this to say, you’ve got to know thyself so that you can steward your gifts well.
And remember, we are to use our gifts to serve one another so that in everything God might be glorified. Our gifts aren’t there to make much of ourselves, but to make much of Him.
So what are you good at?
What do you love doing?
What are your gifts?
As you consider what your gifts are and how to steward them well, I’ve included a guide called Know Thyself to help you process.
For additional resources, I would love to recommend the following: