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I’m aware that there’s a certain science — even a whole industry’s worth of church curriculum — devoted to the actual list of Scripturally-sanctioned spiritual gifts for the upbuilding of the body and for the common good. You can do tests that identify whether you’re the bearer of wisdom, or knowledge, or faith, or speaking in tongues, etc.

I’m all for all these gifts, but let’s get real: they’re not all we need. There are times when the common good, when the upbuilding of the body, requires more than prophets and teachers. Here are a few things that I believe Paul overlooked when he canonized the list, and that after some reflection I believe should be seriously considered as official spiritual gifts.

Initiating Things

Let’s hear it for the friend you have who is always the one sending the text — Want to meet for pizza? Let’s walk around the block and complain about work! Do you want to have a cooking club where we make different ethnic foods every month? Let’s take the kids to the splash pad. I love that friend. I am the worst at initiating things — and I fully appreciate that without those people and the thankless and endless task of drawing me off of my couch, I’d never interact with other humans. Praise be to God for the Initiators.

Harmonizing Hymns

Here’s something I cannot do. Not even a little. I’d never even make an attempt. But how great is it when you get to stand in front of that lady who knows her place in the four-part harmony? Praise be for the harmonizers. They’re almost as important as the person who is willing to insist belligerently that clapping happens on beats 2 and 4, and will go the. whole. song. even if they’re the only one to do it correctly.

Maintaining Politically Diverse Friendships… on Facebook
How great are the ones who a) have friends who don’t all agree with them already, and b) are willing to post more than their vacation photos and current fitness routine? I can’t tell you the sort of hope it gives me to see friends say, “Oh Colleen — I miss hanging out at the pool with you, remember that time we won the Freestyle Relay by like one second? Your son looks like he’s loving that new skateboard! Also, your comment about Mexicans being murderers is actually factually inaccurate and pretty racist. I think you should read Waking Up White — want to borrow my copy? Say hey to your brother!” In a world where it takes but one click to unfriend, I just really believe it is the Holy Spirit who dwells among the ones who stick it out.

Suggesting the Location for Lunch

In a sea of “I don’t care!” and “I’m up for whatever!” it’s just so critical to have someone who says “Let’s meet at 12:30 at the new Ethiopian place.” God bless that person. I love that person.

Alternate ideas include: Keeping Records of Committee Meetings, Coming Up With Things to Talk About During Coffee Hour That Aren’t Related to A Person’s Profession, and Reminding People Politely When They Forgot to Pay You Money They Owe You.

We need each other, friends. I’m so grateful for God’s gifts in you.


Photo by Jess Watters on Unsplash


Kate Kooyman

Rev. Kate Kooyman is a minister of the Reformed Church in America who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


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