Jn20:19-23 [Pentecost Sunday]

So I’ve been allotted Pentecost Sunday sharing and you can’t really deviate much from the Holy Spirit and how the tongues of fire didn’t burn their hair came to rest on the head of each of them. This is really a coincidence because I did want to share about how I came to realise the difference between gifts (of the holy spirit) and talents but never got around to it, until now.

Remember right after I came back from Korea, I was determined to join Amplify’s worship team, partly because I said I would before I left, but more so because I really like singing, my voice really ain’t that bad (right?) and for the life of me, couldn’t understand why I never made it to the main worship team in sfx. I revere yall like how any sportsman in the school team revere the national team :/ And yet that plan fell through as well. The thought gradually faded but the occurrence during log retreat and a few revelations of the past made me come to a huge realisation: I had confused talent with gift.

I have a talent. I wish that sentence could sound a little less arrogant. Okay, I am of the impression that I have a talent. I like my talent and because of my parents’ stifling or failure to nurture it, I always felt I had to protect it and depend on myself to further it. So this is a talent; a natural ability that is already present at birth, an inclination, a skill that can be further cultivated to perfection in the right environment.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit however do not work the same way. Gifts are manifestations of the Holy Spirit within the person and does not need to, or cannot be nurtured. The whole range of gifts is inexhaustible and does not have proper categories. The most basic characteristic of the gifts I can conclude is that, they are used for the benefit of others (kingdom-building) and are hence given to individuals according to the needs of the church. For example, the tongues the apostles spoke could be understood by people of different races and languages because there was a great need at that time to cross the language barrier to be able to spread the good news. The charismatic gifts are also distinguished from the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Isaiahan gifts) and the Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are for personal sanctification.

My experience with gifts of the Holy Spirit is this: I could never predict or plan the moment when the Holy Spirit works through me. But when it does happen, I usually recognise and acknowledge it only on retrospect. And when I do recognise it, without being able to explain logically what or how it happened, there is no doubt that it was the work of the Spirit. There were also many instances, after discerning, that I realised an occurrence was not the work of the Spirit.

So I could go on forever about the Holy Spirit and its gifts. But the main message of my reflection is to draw the comparison between gift and talent, and to urge us to discover the gifts more accurately. Because too much focus on talent might justify the lack of attention we give to the gifts, and because the world desperately needs us to manifest love for healing and building God’s kingdom here on earth.


– von


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