Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lawn Chair Catechism #4: And you get a charism, and you get a charism...

As near impossible as it is to switch gears after my post earlier this morning, I will try to share my thoughts on the third chapter of Sherry Weddell's book Forming Intentional Disciples. To read other reflections, go to It is never too late to join the discussion. Buy the book and tell us what you think today!
Today, I'm going to throw the script away. With all due respect to the hard working people at, I will not be answering the reflection questions they worked so hard on. I want to talk about charisms. While I have never been through the Called & Gifted program, the Lay Formation program at my grad school borrowed aspects of it. I've taken a couple gift inventories and was assigned to read several books.  
 A cool picture yanked from the Nashville Dominicans website. It's cleansing to the palate after the morning I've had. And, by the way, I know one
As I was doing the inventories, I felt like a teenager again. You know, those stupid quizzes in the magazines. "Are you and your friend drifting?" "What jeans are best for you?" "Are you too busy for school?" "What TV boyfriend is right for you?" After you answer a whole bunch of questions, you tally the answers, do a little math and voilà! You now know the deepest secrets of your own heart!
At the time, the tests annoyed me. Again, I'm paying for a Master's degree, not to sit around taking personality quizzes or poke at my emotional scars.
I observed one important thing that semester, however: When someone recognizes your gift, you are more apt to use it. Being my last year before marriage, I went nuts trying to get published. I saw it as my last chance to really do something before my life was no longer my own. When I took the inventory, "writing" was listed as my third highest charism, behind wisdom and service. This pushed me even more to send manuscripts out. I didn't get published that year. All of the manuscripts were rejected. 
Seeing my charisms on paper, however, made them real to me. I can see how a workshop like Called & Gifted can change someone's life.
It's kind of like journaling or talk therapy. It's one thing to think things in your head. It's a completely other thing to see it written out or said aloud. If I remember correctly, my top 5 were:
  • Service
  • Wisdom
  • Writing
  • Mercy
  • Missionary
There aren't any surprises there for me. I'm happiest when I'm helping people. I love to write. People have sought me out my entire life for advice on things. While I'll likely never travel to a far-away land, I communicate well with people of different backgrounds and socio-economic groups.
So, the moral of the story is: We need to recognize our gifts and the gifts of others. If they aren't recognized, they'll go unused. I know this from experience!

By the way, imagine Oprah reading the title of this post and it will make a lot more sense.


  1. Yes, recognizing our gifts is vital and helps us to move forward toward being the person God created us to be. As I recall the inventory I took some years ago had many charisms. I focused on were the top one of discernment and the bottom one of mercy. So I know that I can discern (judge rightly, see the truth, edit well). I really need to work on being more merciful and compassionate so that I don't discourage others with gifts, especially the charism of writing.

    1. Yeah, but writers do also need a kick in the butt sometimes. They need people to be more critical of their writing. Writing the Truth when no one can understand you doesn't do anyone any good. It's a waste of a gift if it doesn't edify or inform.


What do you think? I want to know.