Photo credit: Ryan Klinck

Photo credit: Ryan Klinck

Gifts for the Common Good of the Spirit
The Rule of Life, Week 9
by Adam White

We will use our spiritual gifts, talents and abilities to serve God within and beyond this community
     -From the MWF Rule of Life

There are natural gifts and then there are learned gifts. If you ever wanted to find a way to understand what your natural gifts are and what gifts you can develop, then intentional monastic community is the place for you!

Having lived in the monastic community at Bonhoeffer House in Dallas over a six year span, I was able to observe how some gifts are truly innate and what gifts can be learned through community.

Naturally, I believe the gifts that I could offer my community and residents were hospitality and listening. I loved preparing to host a group that would be coming to visit Bonhoeffer. I would get up early the day of to make coffee, arrange extra seating in our prayer room, and joyfully peer out of the window so that they could be received in a timely manner.

When guests, community members, or residents were in need of sharing their feelings or their thoughts, I tried earnestly to be present and listen. My aim was not to solve or try to fix whatever was being shared; I simply yearned for others to know that they were being heard, respected, and loved.

As natural as hospitality and listening are, there are a list of gifts I needed help learning. Maybe you know what I am talking about--those areas of life that you know you have to face weekly but struggle to face. Gifts of organization, specifically cleaning and maintaining a calendar, were very difficult for me. Over the six years I had been at Bonhoeffer, I truly believe it took all six years to learn what healthy habits of organization embodied. I needed the community, my fellow residents, neighbors, and even guests to help me learn this gift. Also, I needed to let go of excuses that kept me from recognizing that organization was indeed a gift to learn with others. As long as we keep barriers or personal defenses up, we will fail to truly see potential gifts that God is calling us to learn about through the support of others.

I have a love/hate relationship with much of the Apostle Paul’s writings, but there are some truths, pearls of deep wisdom, that he unveils for us to receive. Here is one about gifts: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Apart from intentionally sharing life with others, our natural gifts can only reach so far. But in community with one another, there is a sacred space where God invites each of us share our gifts equally and communally. Within this sacred space we each come and offer our natural gifts in order to serve one another, and in that act of serving with our gifts we also receive more gifts through holy learning that is guided by God’s Spirit.

Here’s to those natural gifts that we share with others…and to those gifts we are still learning by God’s grace manifested within our fellow sisters and brothers.

May God move us to recognize, embrace, and share these gifts as we together offer service to a world needing some more of that “common good” Paul was talking about.

Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:

  • What "natural" gifts do you have?
  • What gifts do you feel God calling you to learn with the support of others?
  • Who in your community can you reach out to or observe as a means to learn these gifts?

The Missional Wisdom Foundation Rule of Life

We hope you are enjoying our study of the Missional Wisdom Foundation Rule of Life. This is our last week to focus on The Rule. This way of life continually blesses us in many ways and we hope that you, our Dispersed Community, have been able to share in that blessing. If you would like a very nice, framable copy of the MWF Rule of Life, you can find several options in our Merchandise Store.