By Maureen Conrad
All my life I have been taught that God has given each of us unique gifts and we are called to use them. However, I had never heard of a “charism” until a woman at church on Volunteer Sunday told me about the Called and Gifted program. Little did I know that every baptized Christian possesses multiple charisms, or gifts from the Holy Spirit, that are to be used for the benefit of others.
She explained that 24 charisms have been identified and each of us has several of them. For example, some people are natural writers, some are encouragers and others are evangelizers. The 10-week Called and Gifted program is designed to help people discern which gifts they possess so that they can be put into action to do God’s will.
The Called and Gifted format allows for self discovery. During the first five sessions, I learned about the unique qualities of each of the charisms and began to identify possible matches to my own personality. I also found it interesting to consider the charisms that others possess in order to make it easier to appreciate and support the things they do.
After the first five sessions, we each scheduled a meeting with a trained interviewer to help uncover a charism or two we might want to examine further. It was amazing to witness the stories of enlightenment that surfaced when people began to experiment with charisms they may have needed a nudge to explore. When you are open to the call of the Holy Spirit in your life, it is incredible what you may find.
Discovering your charisms allows you to focus on your own gifts and not worry about the ones you don’t possess. You may have marveled at how effortlessly a friend is at entertaining (because she has the charism of hospitality) and wished it would come as easily to you. We are each called to do something different.
One or two of your charisms may seem obvious to you. However, many are difficult to discern and need to be uncovered so that you can begin to experience incredible opportunities to serve God. At the first Called and Gifted session you will take an assessment to help determine your potential strengths and weaknesses. It is a starting point.
From there, you begin to think back on different moments of your life where you found evidence of your efforts having made a difference in people’s lives. If you receive positive feedback after using a charism it is a good indication that you may have that gift, especially if you notice patterns of success with the same one. Utilizing your charisms brings a sense of joy because God is working through you for a greater good.
Sometimes you may think you have a charism, but through self discovery realize your efforts were not well received. That would be a clue to put less effort in that area and concentrate your energy in a direction where you can make a more positive impact. For example, maybe you have always thought of yourself as a great leader but in looking back you remember that people did not appreciate your management style. Maybe administration is more your thing.
We all have a purpose in life. Called and Gifted can help you discern what you are called to do so that you can truly let your light shine. One of my favorite quotes is “Who you are is your gift from God. Who you become is your gift to God.”
Through the program, I have discovered I may possess the gift of pastoring. Someone with this charism can effectively nurture the relationships and long-term spiritual growth of a group. I hope to do that during the next 10-week Called and Gifted session beginning Oct. 27 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf. The first five sessions will be followed by a break, with time to schedule your personal interview before the second five weeks. The course is $32, which covers the cost of books. Contact Nikki Gartner at firstname.lastname@example.org to register or call (563) 370-3360.
(Conrad is a member of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf.)