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Entries in Spiritual Gifts (2)

Thursday
Oct112018

Can Differences in Marriages Form Bridges—Not Chasms?

Cynthia Ruchti writes both novels and nonfiction, but she always focuses on weaving truth and humor together to challenge people to more biblical living. In this Marriage UPGRADE, she tackles differences in marriage and how they can become a blessing.

"The differences between how some marriage partners think must mean they’re not suited for each other," Cynthia says. "Must have missed God’s leading somehow. Marriage is doomed unless the two can start thinking alike, right?"

Oh, I (Dawn) hope not! Seriously, Cynthia understands how so many of our marriages work, and how they can work better!

Cynthia continues . . .

I’ve been that woman—the one wondering how married life can possibly survive much less grow if the husband and wife approach everything—EVERYTHING—from opposing perspectives.

While writing the novel Miles from Where We Started, I didn’t have to look far for research about the widening gap a young couple can feel when they wake up soon after the honeymoon to discover this person they thought their soulmate speaks a different language, cares about different concerns, and is… different.

Not on the same page? He or she isn’t in the same library!

After spending more than four decades married to my opposite, I can predict what my beloved will say before he says it.

Me: Look at that beautiful fireplace.

Him: I wonder how much that thing cost them.

Me: Did you have a good time golfing with Ken?

Him: Yeah.

Me: How’s he handling the news about the lesion near his optic nerve?

Him: We didn’t talk about it.

Me: You didn’t talk about the biggest threat he’s ever faced to his life and his vision? About his pending surgery?

Him: It didn’t come up.

Me: (after a day full of conquering small mountains in my various job assignments) How was work today?

Him: Meh. You know.

I deal in emotional currency.

He deals in checking account balances.

I view life’s experiences through their impact on people.

He views them through their impact on the price of gas.

On every personality test we take—I provide his answers for him, because he doesn’t take personality tests—we score as polar opposites on the charts, graphs, and animal names.

It’s no surprise that God’s artistry didn’t include creating automatons who all function, feel, speak, and process alike. What a wide variety of personality types He made!

When we look at the gifts His Holy Spirit gives so that the body of the church functions well (Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12, among other references), it’s obvious He intended us to approach life from different angles.

We’re not all administrators or helpers or gifted teachers or prophets. But together, we can form a complete picture of the Church.

Why would we assume that wouldn’t be the case in marriage?

What if our differences are bridge-building material rather than distance-making?

How can differences signal pending strength rather than pending doom for a marriage relationship?

Consider these marital points to ponder:

  • SOMEBODY has to consider the costs. (If not me, it had better be him.)
  • Emotion without stability equals tears and laughter with no place to land. Stability without emotion equals a highway in North Dakota (no interesting or growth-producing hills or curves).
  • One angle—even if shared by two people—eliminates the advantage of perspective. It removes dimension. The best brainstorming and problem-solving happens when we take a look at the issue from a variety of angles.

God’s Word says it this way:

“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be" (1 Corinthians 12:17-18, NIV).

Same verses—with a few added—but different… uh… perspective:

“I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together.

"If Foot said, 'I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,' would that make it so?

"If Ear said, 'I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,' would you want to remove it from the body?

"If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell?

"As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body [or the marriage] right where he wanted it (1 Corinthians 12:14-18, MSG—bracketed part, my addition).

Differences in marriage build DIMENSION bridges across the gaps.

Is it time to stop fussing about differences of opinion and use them as planks to build a dimension bridge?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-Hope through novels, nonfiction, devotionals, and speaking events for women and writers. She’s the author of more than 25 books, including the recently-released novel—Miles from Where We Started

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Eusodroff at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Feb022016

Rethinking Single Leadership

A strong woman of purpose, Nali Hilderman encourages women—both by her teaching and in her life example—to embrace Christian leadership at all ages and stages of life. She knows this is difficult for some single women.

“If you’re feeling unimportant in your singleness,” Nali said, “I’d like to challenge you with a biblical perspective.”

When I (Dawn) was a young single woman, a Christian ministry offered me strong reasons to see my singleness as a gift from God. I'm so glad Nali is addressing that in this Leadership UPGRADE.

Nali continues . . .

While there are many examples in the Bible of women that God used—some married, some single—we should focus on obedience to Him in whatever stage of life we find ourselves.

Nowhere does the Bible indicate that your ability to make a difference for Christ and His Kingdom is dependent on your marital status. 

However, I know sometimes it can feel like you’re overlooked and unimportant in the Church if you don’t have a husband and family. 

Here are three reasons you really do matter in the Kingdom of God.

1. Rethink Leadership.

We often tend to think that leadership is about position, personality or platform, which includes certain “requirements” you may feel you don’t have as a single woman. 

The reality is, leadership is mainly about the ability to influence others, serve them and—in Christian leadership—point them towards Christ. 

These things you can do successfully, regardless of whether you’re married or not. 

“Leadership is being alive with truth and love in your sphere of influence.”

That is something anyone can do!

Focus on those God has placed in your path, and work on serving and loving them. This is the most powerful form of influence.

2. Examine and Use your Spiritual Gifts.

Just as there is nothing in Scripture that indicates the gifts of the Holy Spirit are either “male/female,” so there is no designation that some gifts are given to married people and some are for singles.

Because of this, take time to find out what your gifts are and set about using them for the edification of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:7).

You can take free online tests to find out which gifts are your strengths.*

Also, spend time studying 1 Corinthians 12 to learn what the gifts are, what their purpose is, and how each gift is important in the body of Christ.

3. Steward Your Time.

I know this sounds cliché, but as singles we often have more time on our hands than our married friends. Paul is speaking truth when he says married people are concerned with the affairs of their spouse and needs of their children, while single people are “concerned about the Lord’s affairs” (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). 

I know it’s easy to spend time focusing on what we don’t have, but ask yourself, “Am I being a wise steward of the time I have now? Am I serving the Lord—using my gifts to edify the Body of Christ?”

You have the ability to make a significant impact on others during your singleness.

These are three important ideas regardless of what season you find yourself in, but they are especially challenging if you are single and feeling like you cannot have an impact for Christ.

You do matter in the Kingdom of God!

If you are single, which of these three points is hardest for you? What can you do to increase your effectiveness for the Kingdom of God?

Nali Hilderman is a professor of American history at San Diego Christian College, and Director of the college’s Dr. Henry Morris Leadership Program. She studies women’s history and Christian theology. Always seeking how to become a confident, successful Christian woman, she does not buy into the secular feminist mentality. Nali attends Journey Community Church in La Mesa, CA.

* Two free Spiritual Gifts tests are here and here.

Graphic adapted, image courtesy of pixabay.