Gifts Vs. Talents
I’m a part of a parenting group on Facebook, and recently I had a great online conversation with a woman who wanted to know how she could help her teenage daughter discover her “gifts.”
My advice to this sweet mom was that first she needed to know what her daughter’s gifts were. In seeing what her daughter was good at, watching her daughter interact with people and seeing what personalities her daughter is naturally attracted to . . .
Her response: “My daughter is very artistic and draws well.” (She then posted a picture of her 17-year old’s artwork).
I complimented the artwork, but I explained to the mom that drawing was her daughter’s talent. It’s not necessarily her gift. Many people use the two interchangeably, but they aren’t the same.
Biblical List of Gifts
There are three different lists of spiritual gifts in the Bible. They are located in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28. Some of these gifts include prophecy, teaching, serving. leadership, mercy, faith, healing and words of wisdom. Many people have more than just one gift, and can I let you in on a little secret? . . . Everyone has at least one gift! Whether you consider yourself religious or not, Christian or not, God has blessed each of us with gifts. Now would be a good time to thank Him. 🙂
Gifts Vs. Talents
Now, let’s talk about talents. Talents can be learned. Gifts can’t. According to the dictionary, talents are a special ability that allows someone to do something well or a natural ability to do something well. You might hear someone say, “She’s very talented at playing piano.” But what if the person never took formal lessons, does that mean she’s gifted? Not necessarily. Skill and gifts aren’t the same. I believe a gift is something God gives each of us to use in service for others. In this way, you can actually make your gifts serve you as you serve others.
I have a strong leadership gift. My mother said it’s always been there. Yes, as a kid, I was bossy! But guess what, people followed! When I’m in a group, I’m usually the leader. It really bothers me if someone doesn’t step up to lead. That’s one of my gifts. I also have a teaching gift. I really love teaching others and do backflips inside when people have AHA moments in my presence! It’s the most awesome thing . . . My teaching gift coupled with my chosen vocation of inspirational speaking go hand in hand. I do believe I’ve been gifted to teach, and that comes out in my speaking. Make sense?
Encouraging the Gifts and Talents
All in all, there isn’t a huge difference between the two. No one’s going to shoot you if you use the terms interchangeably, but if you’re a parent or caretaker of a young person, I think it’s important that you understand the difference between gifts and talents, and more importantly, how to encourage people in their gifts.
3 Ways to Help Encourage Gifts and Talents
1. Be aware of your own gifts. You can’t really help someone else discover his gifts and talents if you aren’t aware of your own. Your discovery of your own gifts and talents will serve as a practical guide for your loved one to discover his.
2. See it and then say it. If you recognize a particular gift, call it out! Say, “I always see you serving others. You are one of the most hospitable people I know. I believe you have the gift of serving.”
3. Give opportunities for the gifts to shine. Are you in a position of authority where you could help others’ gifts to shine? If you recognize a leader, make opportunities for her to lead. If you’ve been blessed by someone’s words of wisdom, share those words and call upon that person to share with your circle of influence.
Whatever gifts and talents you have, they were placed inside of you for a greater purpose for yourself. My hope is that you walk in that purpose, using your gifts and talents to serve others.