If you have gone through the lists of the behavioral characteristics, you may have recognized a few of your friends or your mate and maybe yourself. I will answer some questions here that are often asked.
I seem to have a lot of characteristics from several gifts. How do I decide?
That is not unusual at all, but there should be one where you have most of the characteristics. The longer you have been developing as a Christian, the more likely you should have many of all seven. But there is one where your most motivation lies, and a secondary one that is also strong.
You don't have to decide right away, but if you have decided, I will bet you find it affirming. If you can't decide, you can always ask friends. Often parents who can tell you what you were like as a child are a great help. The reason seeing what you were like as a child is so effective is that you had not been influenced and programmed by life and expectations.
It is always an amazing revelation to discover any of God's patterns, but one that involves our own creation and our particular destiny makes us feel like Jeremiah must have when God said He knew him before he formed him in the womb. To see that we fit a pattern and have it "explain" parts of ourselves to us, sets us free "to be."
For example, I had always known that I couldn't maintain once I created something. I loved the creative part of starting things, and I loved the knocking down the walls and recreating, but to maintain the status quo had seemed painful and monotonous to me all of my life. I was ashamed that I felt so much passion for the beginning and none for the middle. When I realized that as a characteristic of a redemptive prophet, and that it was not a weakness, but design, I felt like I had been given a gift. That was who I was and it served a purpose? It wasn't a weakness? Amazing. Now, I have had to learn to maintain through the years, and it never comes easily to me. Usually, with me, I organize my closet, and then slowly it falls apart until one day I have to "envision" it all again. Maintenance is hard for me and boring and easy to forget. But starting anew is spectacular.
Down the list I went and I could not believe that the characteristics were hitting so close to home. I never had thought or understood that impulsive and verbally expressive were part of my personality placed there by God.
When I thought about Peter, the redemptive prophet, jumping out of the boat and walking on water for a little while as being part of his impulsive nature, it all made sense. And I had never considered how quickly Peter processed information. He was always analyzing and he was the first to recognize that Jesus was the son of God.
Peter is sometimes characterized in a negative way as being too quick to act, but once I had the redemptive gift understanding to really look at him, I gained immense respect for this giant of faith. I saw that his mistakes were often because of his perspective as a redemptive prophet and that he was acting like a prophet when he was very good and got it right, and when he was very wrong and failed. I was able to see him and his growth and I could understand how he wanted to call down fire on the men who were not the "true" disciples. In fact, Peter never did a thing that I hadn't done or wanted to do and now I knew why. Everyone one of his characteristics that caused him pain I could see coming out of a nature that I share with him and I didn't want to judge him anymore than I wanted to be judged for the way I often jumped without looking. Peter became a kindred that could teach me in a way that had escaped me before.
And then at the same time, I discovered that my husband was a giver. I had always had such difficulty with his wanting to keep his options open. I, who was always quick to decide, hated a lot of options. I tended to see things in a simplistic way, and for me, that was right. I didn't have that language or know that as a characteristic of behavior, I just knew it as an annoyance that I wanted to fix. (Oh, yes, also prophet: the fixer.) I never saw more than two choices for anything. One was right and one was wrong and I thought I could see right in about two seconds. He, on the other hand, saw numerous options and even when he had seemed to narrow them down and choose, he would then "unchoose" and start all over. It took me a long time to realize that if opportunity was signaling to him down the long hall way, he was looking for a way to get to it. I will never forget the first time I was able to hear him list the options AGAIN after I thought he had decided, and I just sat there and thought, "That's what givers do." The angels must have rejoiced. He certainly would have had he known that I was about to give up trying to get him to narrow his options or pick the one that was entirely obvious to me.
And so on. All around me were teachers who started their stories with "It was about 3 AM and I heard the dog bark," and then I knew the whole list of characteristics that were likely to accompany such a statement. I knew this person would likely not be a risk taker, would be able to maintain the status quo beautifully, would be cautious and thoughtful. I began to watch and listen in a new way and the discovery was amazing. I also found grace. I could stop thinking, "Why does so and so always do this or that" and rest in God's creating us different so that we could function differently. I don't mean like "You're okay, I'm okay, " but like we need the cautious and the bold, the compassionate and the principled, the task masters and the congenial, the engaging and the introspective. In our behaviors are great strengths and purposes.
So, first and foremost discovering your gift is part of discovering your identity and knowing that you belong. It is a wonderful relief to know.
And then there is a new found appreciation for the strengths in each other: strengths that we might have seen before as weaknesses.
I remember a mother coming to me on a teaching break to talk about her daughter. The daughter was in her forties, and her mother had felt like a failure all of her life because her daughter lacked ambition. She did not know what she had done wrong, but she felt hopeless about that characteristic in her daughter. She recognized that her daughter was a servant, in the midst of the teaching, and all of a sudden, what she had seen as a deficit, became a characteristic she could appreciate. After all, ambition, are cultural variables.
It is liberating to recognize that one's ruler boss values loyalty and has a hard time nurturing. It is tantamount to solving a mystery to discover that mercies sometimes take a long time to discover what they want to do, and sometimes speak a language different from the rest. Very often our areas of conflilct with each other are disputes over the clashes of our characteristics. The prophet processes quickly and believes that instant conclusions are the hallmark of accuracy. A teacher may puzzle and think through many things to come to his conclusion, sure that accuracy are byproducts of patience and thoroughness. Then there may be a mercy who is thinking far outside the box who comes up with the best answer. Or the practical feet on the ground giver. Or the systems oriented ruler. Or the servant, who without agenda or guile, sees clearly. Or the world changer exhorter who just caught the vision. Or really, any or all of them, contributing and respected because they are different.
Aside from how we get along and respect each other, there is much, much more to this journey.
I would suggest that you listen to the CD's at Sapphire Leadership Group to discover curses that might have developed when principles were violated relating to the gifts. Truly, the most important thing that we need to know is what God meant for us to accomplish in order to seize our birthrights: to fulfill our destinites.