Charisms

What they are and how to discern yours

What are Charisms? 

A charism is a spiritual gift given to you by God at your baptism so that you can fulfil Christ's mission to "Go and Make Disciples" (Matthew 28:19). They are not talents but supernatural gifts given to you by God to bring His love and mercy to others. 

Does everyone have a charism?

Yes! Every baptized Christian has a call placed on them by virtue of their baptism to go our and proclaim the Gospel message to the world. The exciting thing is that this call has been placed in you by God so that you can know what he wants you to do. Discerning your charism helps you know where God might want you to bring his love and mercy to others. 

How do I know what mine are? 

Most people have more than one charism and they will often find their charisms working together. For instance, if you discern that you  have the charisms of leadership and intercessory prayer, you might feel called to begin and lead a group of people who also have a charism of intercessory prayer. Or, if you have the charisms of pastoring and teaching you might find that your teaching corresponds with a desire to build up Christian community. 

The discernment process in our diocese begins with attending a Called and Gifted Workshop. There, they will further explain the Church's teachings on charisms and begin familiarizing you with some of the more common charisms. 

Then you can set up a time for what is called an "interview". This is a time where a trained interviewer takes time to listen to your story and reflect back to you where they hear God working through you for others. The interviewer won't be able to tell you definitively what your charisms are, but they can help you figure out which charisms you probably have and which ones you do not. 

Then the interviewer will give you some prayer ideas and practical homework for you to begin to see if God is truly using you through one of the charisms. Prayer, practice, feedback and observation are all needed to really discern whether or not God has given you a particular charism or charisms. 

Three Signs a Charism is present

1. An unmistakable inner experience of peace, energy, joy, etc when you are using the gift
2. You are unusually effective and successful in what you are trying to accomplish. For instance, if you have a charism of teaching people almost always understand and grasp the information you are teaching.
3. Other people give you direct or indirect recognition. 

Aren't these really just talents? 

No. Talents can be something that you have learned to do or you have a knack for doing. What separates a talent from a spiritual gift is whether you are using this ability to bring God's love to others and invite them to change their lives. Often people will talk about being on a "spiritual high" when they are using their gifts - they become very aware that the Holy Spirit is flowing through them and touching others. 

A good example might be a talent for woodworking. You might be very adept at building birdhouses. However, if you build them for your own pleasure and delight it is a talent, not a charism. However if you find you use your building skills when you see that a neighbor or a friend is in need, you know it is a gift you can give to them and the effect is that they experience God's love through you, then it is a charism. 

How many charisms are there? 

We don't really know! However there are some more common ones and ones particularly listed in scripture:

Romans 12:3-8

For by the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned. For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry in ministering, if one is a teacher, in teaching, if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes generously, in generosity, if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

1 Corinthians 12: 4-12

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes. As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13

And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,* for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.

 

For more information, contact Jen Brown at brownj@ihmlansing.org.