NOTE ON THE POST TITLE: The repeated ALL-CAPS word “OR” in the above title communicates a subtitle. That is, it is another way of entitling this post.
As someone who is an obsessive student with reading and understanding the scriptural text, the following words may not make a lot of sense to some in my audience, but bear with me, because I think this may help us in the post that will follow, namely on the Mercy.
Arthur Burk once made an observation about Redemptive Gifts Tests that was extraordinarily insightful to the discussion on the gifts, and I would like to highlight another facet on why the tests themselves are largely useless, and why we need to often resort to process to discover.
It is often precisely because of the way in which we (believers who affirm the inerrancy of Scripture) inflexibly use words, define words, and, frequently, because of the ways in which we expand on our definitions for what certain terms mean that gets us into trouble.
Take the “Designed For Fulfillment” book that is so popular among those familiar with Arthur’s material, precielsy because it is written down. Or take the no-so-recent kerfluffle with the material that was published/not published on Leviathan that led to misunderstandings and accusations flying around.
Or the book and concept of a culture of honor, I am specifically going to review one of the more popular works on the matter precisely because we as a church really do not understand or have a comprehensive and user-friendly conceptualization of honor that does not revolve around some form of church government, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the refusal to look at honor on its own and rooted in dignity apart from church leadership structures is killing us in the Mercy Season.
Now that I have said that, let me move back to what I have seen as a really bad means of communication on the Redemptive Gifts.
I was not recently in a course on the Redemptive Gifts, that repeated what Arthur said on the matter, and then proceeded to add words that attempted to make the particular gifts look like the titles we use to describe them.
In the Redemptive Gift test that we took in this class, I was able to identify which question went with which gift, and, unfortunately, the langauge that was used had very little to do with the prevailing realities of each of the respective gifts. For example, the questions for Giver were framed around offerings and being generous with physical resources.
The Prophet questions, dealing with matters of boldness, and so on.
And my response to that sort of inventory is “that is not how this works. That is not how any of this works.”
To paraphrase my dear friend, Bear, these gifts are not called what they are because that is what the do the most of.
A Prophet is not called a Prophet because they prophesy or declare.
A Servant is not called that because they Serve.
A Teacher because they Teach.
An Exhorter because they Exhort.
A Giver because they Give.
A Ruler because they Rule or Lead.
And a Mercy is not called that because they are Merciful.
This is not the way the gifts function.
The Gifts are so labeled, I think, because they are ways in which the L-rd wants the realities associated with the gifts to best function.
On The Prophet
Arthur repeatedly said the Prophet’s finest work is in being a rebuilder. It is appropriate for someone who is so razor-ready with a sword and a hammer, which are appropiate tools with which to build to come to a situation, able to pull it apart to its most basic elements, and recombine those elements in new ways in order to rebuild them.
Quickly get to the source of the problem, and quickly to fix that problem in order to rebuild the streets and the homes in which to dwell.
Prophets were made to be sharp, and not to ever blunt that sharpness. Thanks to Joanna Lo for pointing out this. A high-level and high-functioning Prophet will be ideological, sword-and-hammer-weilding, and black-and-white even when they are healthy. They do not lose their quickness or their brazen temper, or their 88 emotions just because they grow. But they do add to that ideology the skill to effectively build.
Some of you people that criticize the black-and-white of some of your friends, you are not going to break those friends of that tendency. Give up. They are not going to be shades-of-gray folk, even when they try to do so, no matter how hard you may repeat how “not everything is so black and white”. And eventually I hope you come to appreciate the different design, after healing from the wounds of those prophets who were abusive.
They are Prophets because they see design and move viciously toward seeing something or someone opperating in the best of their G-d-given design.
The Servant can run circles around the other six in their doing and cleaning and their serving, but they are not called that because they serve, but because they are the most consistently responsible with their handling of Authority; they receive more authority than any other gift for one reason and one reason only: they do not want it.
And as a result of not wanting it, it is nearly impossible for the Servant to abuse their authority, (excepting int he most perverse of circumstances.
Not because they teach, though they can teach the deep things, or because they prefer the exposition and the Greek and the Hebrew. But because the perceive the rooted depths of G-d. That verse Paul speaks about “knowing the depths of G-d”, that is the Teacher’s job.
They take the deep understanding of G-d, and, forged in the midst of an encounter with the twofold fullness of G-d, both in hot and in cold, they impart those depths to others, in a slow, articulate, and methodical fashion, and they do it while fostering a place of trust and safety. For the full picture of this, see “The HP Way”, Disc 2, Cut 2 on Onyx Business DNA. See also the Teacher’s design to take new paradigms, pair that with leaders in the creation and raising up of sons, and raising the pair of those resources to a place of perfection. This is what Sir Henry Royce, and Bill Hewlett, and a hundred other Teachers did.
And it is not about whether or not you can quote what this Greek or Hebrew for this word really means according to Strongs. Strong’s is an old and extremely-dated reference. And again, we have this issue and obsession with not allowing words to be more flexible according to their context, and we then come up with some unusually silly reasons for why we think a word means what it means all the time.
We have done this with λογος and ρημα. We assume the first means “written” and the second means “living”. But Yeshua was not called the ρημα; he was called the λογος.
Words do have meanings, and the Scriptures are inerrant, but there is a context for these words, and sometimes the authors use one word where we expect another, and our responsibility is that we make dang sure we are not forcing a particular use of the word to conform to every other reference of that word, when that particular reference does something different based on its context.
Part of the reason we behave so dishonorably when we cry out for a “culture of honor” is because we have failed to robustly discuss the primacy of dignity in a culture of honor, and the fact that honor cannot exist without dignity, and honor does not heal shame.
We are obsessed with doing what everyone else is doing or looking like everyone else looks because someone told us that is how it is supposed to be that we fail to check in with Father and ask him if we are supposed to do that. Whether it is create a vision or mission statement or core values or have a spiritual father (all of which I have been told I need to do with utmost haste).
Back to the Teacher’s place.
The Teacher is the anchor of the Redemptive Gifts, the harbor, the safe haven, the one who can handle the best and the worst with equal measure and not be constantly tossed around by everyone else’s emergency.
The Teacher is so because, above all the gifts, they were made to be a the gift above all the others that can be trusted.
And they are to be the one found trustworthy above all others, because they are the motorcycle. Those two wheels have to stand up under greater pressure and put out better performance. That seat has to bear you without failing or compromise. That engine has to bear you greater distances. And because durability is in the design, if you let the full Teacher, they will show you the most exhilarating, thrilling, and sometimes most dangerous ride of your life, precisely because they have it where it counts, and they are relentless in their dependability.
This is why thye must major and get four degrees in the principle of Responsibility. They will be put in charge of a ranbunctious and motely crew of kids who will be like a horde of cats, and the Teacher will have to have the poise and relentless execution necessary to herd those cats.
The most rocksteady of the gifts.
Not because they Exhort or Encourage.
But because they are the relentless builder of community, at their best.
Unlike the Prophet, who builds leaders and individuals, and the most broken, working on the two extremes, the Exhorter builds groups.
And at their worst, they can take over and control a relationship without realizing it, and run others ragged, and others will let them do it because they are so likeable.
The Exhorter, at their best reaps disproportionately when they are demanding the bald-faced reality be their portion. When they embrace the pain and can come out on the other side as the most consistent of the gifts, they are ready to be entrusted with the large groups and to govern those relationships and lead them into reality.
These are not called Givers because they give, are good with money and finances, or because they are generous.
Guys, I am going to repeat myself. Get your head out of what you see written in that mostly-useless English dictionary pertaining to the Giver. What you might better be looking at is the concept of a Steward, or someone who manages for another.
The Giver is designed to be the most wise, the most savvy, the most perceptive, and the most outwardly-focused of the gifts, and the most birthing and pregnant of the gifts. They sneeze and three new ministries/businesses/organizations with a full portfolio and diverse means of expression explode into existence. The Giver is given these things because they are the most capable of stewarding them into existence. I would contend, they might typically do this in tandem with a Prophet (because of the need for building out new paradigms), the Exhorter (because of the need to gather peeps to people new organizations), or the Ruler (because of the need to develop new infrastructure and systems that are working, sustainable, and life-giving while skillfully allocating the resources so as to not waste or make insustainable the new work), though given enough time, I could see something life-giving in tandem with the Servant or Teacher or Mercy.
Think of Warren Buffett with his 85 zillion organizations gathered under the umbrella of Berkshire Hathaway.
As I discussed in my last post on the Ruler, the term “Ruler” is a wholly inadequate term to describe this gift. There is the principle of freedom, the concept of needed-quick-decisions, usually the presence of too many tasks and not enough skilled people, and the need to get all up and running effectively in a matter of days. This is what the Ruler was made for. They are not a Ruler because they Rule. The are a Ruler because the decide and deliver and father and skillfully execute with limited tools on-hand. Empires form around them. Jeff Bezos, Jeff Bezos, Jeff Bezos.
They are Rulers because they engage in the two things that will get the empire up and running; they teach you how to build the systems and structure that work, and they teach you how to fight the opposition to the systems and structures that are being built.
What follows here is not the whole picture, but I am led to speak to a small and strong band of the Mercy make-up.
Mercies are not Mercies because they are merciful.
Having mercy on someone is not the Mercy’s only dynamic.
And now the small but real band of the Mercy makeup; the Mercy was made to not only sanctify time highest of all the gifts, but also to give the longest space for someone to repent or be transformed in the renewing of their minds.
Mercies, for all their etherealness, are the ones that create a safe space in the form of sanctified time in order for someone to move from a place where they are not safe, to a place where they are safe, and redeemed or changed.
Mercies give the rest, and the safety in time, unlike the Teacher who provides Safe land, or the Servant who provides a safe atmosphere.
Just some thoughts on the gifts. Our words for describing them are really just inadequate in many ways, and there is a something else that better helps us in our speaking about the concepts pertaining to and central to each of the gifts.
So, it behooves us to not obsess over what this or that tool says, but to really look at a breadth of each of the gifts in action in real life and so get a real robust feel for what they look like in practical terms.
I hope this helps each of you as you read.
Please feel free to comment as you read this, and let me know either in this post, or in the Facebook page whence you came, what you are thinking of as you read.
Be blessed, gang.