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Discover Your Gifts: Celebrating How God Made You: Don Everts

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
July 10, 2023 5:15 am

Discover Your Gifts: Celebrating How God Made You: Don Everts

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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July 10, 2023 5:15 am

Ever wonder what you were made to offer the world? Author Don Everts digs into human dignity, biblical perspectives on spiritual and common gifts, and the power of our gifts to reconnect with our communities.

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Find Don Everts on social media on Twitter @doneverts and Insta @evertsdon.

And grab his book, Discover Your Gifts: Celebrating How God Made You and Everyone You Know in our shop—or receive it free with any donation.

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Everyone, it turns out, is well made. Everyone is imbued with dignity and beauty at their birth and even before their birth because God knit them together in their mother's womb. So, like, what are the implications of that biblically? What does the research tell us about how people are gifted and how everyone is gifted? People are hungry to have their gifts discovered and they need help discovering their gifts and they really want to be able to, like, connect their vocation and, like, their other gifts.

Even with their church. Welcome to Family Life Today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at or on the Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. Okay, so I have a question. All right. If you, I don't know what you're going to say. What would you say if I have any giftings? What would you say mine is?

Number one. We're talking spiritual gifts? There's differences. There's spiritual gifts. There's common gifts.

Any one that comes to your mind. First thing comes to your mind. You have a gift of teaching. Oh, really? And you have an evangelistic gift as well.

You have an evangelism gift. That's what you thought of. First two. First one? Yeah. You know what I thought for you? Oh, no.

No, it's good. It drives me crazy. Generosity.

Oh, I don't think that's even in my top two or three. I mean, when I thought of you walking up to women in the checkout line at the grocery store handing them cash, walking up to a drunk lady on a sidewalk in Detroit handing her cash and actually putting her in your car and driving her home. I mean, that's a part of being generous and seeing people. That's so interesting.

That's the first. It's because the money is affecting you. That's why you're thinking of it. There have been times I've been annoyed by that gift. Why are we talking about it? It's a beautiful thing. Why are we talking about this?

Because we've got the guy who wrote the book on gifts in the studio. Don Everts is back with us. I don't know how many months it's been, but we love having you here, Don. Welcome back. Thank you. Good to be with you, Dave and Ann. So fun.

It's just weird to have a little couples therapy here. This is really fun. Well, that's why we brought you in.

It's a secret, but you're going to help us. Yeah, and it's interesting. Last time you were here, you have a fascinating life. You're a pastor in Springfield, Missouri. But you're also a writer, and a lot of your writing has to do with research on different topics. Talk about your life.

I mean, that's a unique blend. It is, and it's fun because I get to work with really nerdy, really smart Christian social scientists who are like, you know, do these like nationwide research studies to find out about relevant topics. And yet I'm a practitioner, right? I'm in the church. I'm in the pulpit. I'm, you know, in people's homes.

I'm in the coffee shops. And so it kind of allows me maybe this kind of stereo view, like on the one hand, taking kind of a nerdy sort of just kind of research based. What do we learn?

What do the statistics tell us or not tell us? And then I have this other view that's from a kind of a ministry perspective. And maybe if we had a third view, it would be kind of the biblical one, right? So they also asked me, like, help us think biblically about these topics that we're looking into as well. So it's kind of fun, you know? I have a graph here, the Bible opened here, and then I'm thinking about interactions I've had with real human beings. So it makes me think, and it actually forces me to change and grow and learn. And you're doing that as well as being a husband, a dad of three, and continuing.

We heard about it at lunch. To renovate your house. That's right. Your Victorian house built in 18... 1887. And you painted it, sanded it, prepped it yourself. And by the way, those are pretty impressive pictures.

It's a beautiful house. It's awesome. But you know, when I was pastoring, we would often in meetings say, here's some, we call it some guy research. And I hated that because it meant that, you know, I walked off the stage on Sunday and some guy said, hey, what about this? And then you bring it into a meeting and people would say, we need to change this and this. And I go, wait, wait, what's our basis? Why are you saying that? Well, some guy, I'm like, who is this guy? Maybe he just had a bad day. Exactly.

And it drove me crazy. But I was always like, no, let's get real data. That's how you make decisions that are going to be life changing. You had that blend of your leading people in a faith community, in a church, and you've got real research. And so let's talk about your latest one. Wonderful. Discover your gifts, celebrating how God made you and everyone you know.

Which by the way, I didn't expect an everyone you know. Is that right? When I saw the stuff that I'm like, yeah, you celebrate how God made you and everyone you know, you're making a statement, right? That's it.

That's right. And part of our approach, and you a little bit hinted at this earlier when you're talking about, what are we talking about, spiritual gifts or common gifts? Because the research itself, we were looking at gifts, talents, abilities, passions, skills, whether they're innate, born with them, develop them over time. And we were specifically and explicitly, we're looking not just at spiritual gifts, but at what we call common gifts or creational gifts. Gifts that God is a good creator.

Everyone he makes, he makes well. And he does a good job, you know, as David put it, wonderful are your works. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And actually God's a really good creator.

And so with our research, we wanted to focus on gifts in general. And then from the scripture, we wanted to look at what's a biblical anthropology, not just what does the Bible say about believers? And it has a lot of very great things to say about us that are insightful, but it also has something to say about humanity as a part of creation that God has made. And so that's why the title is like, well, celebrating how God has made you and everyone you know, like everyone, it turns out is well-made. Everyone is imbued with dignity and beauty at their birth and even before their birth because God knit them together in their mother's womb. So like, what are the implications of that biblically? What does the research tell us about how people are gifted and how everyone is gifted? And what I found is we as Christians have a lot of experience thinking about spiritual gifts.

And let's define that as well. Yeah, so spiritual gifts would be the gifts that are talked about in the New Testament, which are these like special empowerments brought by the Holy Spirit. And so these are special to believers when you have the Holy Spirit in you.

One of the things, not the only thing, but one of the things the Spirit does is imparts these special enablements that empower you to do ministry, empower you to bless other people. So what we're talking about are common gifts, not common like, not special, but common like. Everyone has common gifts that God gives them at their creation. Whether they're a believer or not, they've been bestowed by God.

That's right. They've been bestowed by God as their creator. Because the Bible tells us everyone has been made by God. And the Bible tells us that God's a good maker.

And so having that view and what the research shows us, what the scriptures tell us, there are just some kind of startling implications for when we like just actually sit and think about kind of the doctrine of creation, if you will. Right. Yeah. Well, I mean, one of the things I remember preaching years ago, and I was probably being too honest, but I said, you know, often I'll judge people. Yeah.

You know, I know you never do, Don, and Ann never does. But, you know, you can sort of form an opinion. I mean, it's fun to do in an airport. You know, you sit there and watch people walk by and you start thinking things about how they're walking or dressed or whatever. And my point in the day was, you know, it's almost like sometimes we can put a number on somebody.

Oh, he's a six, athletically, or she's a. And my point was, God puts a 10 on every forehead of every person you ever met. In other words, you never met a person in your life that doesn't matter to God and isn't gifted by God. But I think we miss that.

That's the point of your whole book is like, discover your gifts. Why do we miss it? Because it's like you said, it's the creation glory of God put in us. The imago Dei, the image of God is in every person and yet we go around and sort of first, second, third, fourth.

We do. The biblical language is showing partiality. That's the fancy biblical language. And we're told in the Old Testament, God shows no partiality.

And so neither should you. In the New Testament, it's really clear, show no partiality. And showing partiality is when it's like, well, you two are different than each other and I'm going to treat you differently than I treat you.

I'm showing partiality. Yeah. Why do we do that? I mean, when, when the reality is everyone is like beautifully made and everyone is knit together, everyone, you know, is as Calvin put it. And Calvin's really into the fallenness of humanity.

Right. But, but even he, in his commentary on Genesis said, every human is clothed and ornamented with excellent gifts. And yet as fallen people, you know, as fallen people, we do have that tendency. We judge other people. We look down on certain people. We dismiss people rather than taking them seriously. Or we highlight people because of their profession or their athletic gift or their musical gift and the same thing.

It's like, what are we doing? That's right. And then some of us do the same thing to ourselves.

Right. And so, you know, I'm someone who grew up really struggling with low self-esteem. I mean, to the point of self-hatred at times. Deep, deep seated. And we can, you know, you can do counseling for me.

We can talk about why that was. But like, that's weird, right? Like I'm beautifully made by God. And so what, what is it like to allow the truth of scripture? What God says about us?

You know, the Bible's like a mirror. You hold up because you can see yourself. You learn about yourself. And one of the things that you learn is that you're wonderfully made.

And so is that guy you hate next door. And what does that, what does that mean about how you feel about yourself? What does that mean about how you treat other people?

And that's some of what we explore. Well, Don, as I hear you say that, like I had a front up that no one would have thought that I had struggled with any kind of self-esteem issues, but I really, I just covered it well. But I really did struggle.

And I had a lot of negative thoughts going in my head. Oh, I'm not good enough. I'm not pretty enough. I'm not smart enough.

I mean, I'll put a quick footnote because I know you're going somewhere. But when we first got married and I would say to her, you are beautiful. She said, no, I'm not. And I literally laughed out loud, like, like there's no way you don't think that. And I realized it took me about a year. She really doesn't see in the mirror what I see.

And so that was a real thing. But I think a lot of people struggle with that. Maybe they don't tell a lot of people. And I think a lot of parents see their kids struggling with it. And there's more reason to now kids are being bullied.

The social media is just a hard place. You struggled with it. Did that have anything to do with why you wanted to write a book like this? It's part of what deepened the research for me, right? I mean, we were doing research on gifts because of the research we did about neighborhoods, which told us if you want to be changing your neighborhood, it's all about people using their gifts. And we're like, well, that's interesting. Let's study gifts more.

And when we started studying gifts more, both through the social science research and throughout the scriptures, I tell you, Ann, like immediately it got really deep. In what way? You mean for you? Yes.

Yeah, personal. Because here I am, you know, I can sit back as a theologian and like, yes, this is the doctrine of creation. And I'm reading Abraham Kuyper's three volumes on common grace and blah, blah, blah. But you handle that stuff enough.

And you're like, I really am wonderfully made. And thankfully, I'm at a place in life where just the love of Jesus has just like clobbered that in my life. You know, and it took time.

It takes time. Me too. But I think it like brought it back. And I was like, I wish I had learned the doctrine of creation earlier in life. I wish I'd had more preachers who said, God makes everyone and he makes them well, deal with it. You know, I wish someone had said that to me because I would have been like, well, yeah, everyone else, but not me.

You know, then the love of Jesus, of course, that can ruin low self-esteem. And so, yeah, so it got real. I think both because of that and how real that is.

And so in talking with people about this, how many people like you and we're like, I'm told anyone else, but I, you know, I've struggled with this a lot. And then the other side of it is just, you know, we live in an age where showing partiality is now at an art form. Right. I mean, in terms of how people talk about other people, how little like grace and like generous assumptions we have on others. Cancel culture is part of that. Yeah.

And so that's another reason why it got deep really fast. And it was like, we're not just talking about gifts anymore. We're talking about like our humanity and how we treat each other. And man, as Christians, we should be the most gracious people who celebrate the people around us who have grace on other people. Because we know, you know, I may think you're a jerk, but my God made you. And so I have to pay attention to that.

So, which makes it kind of sad when Christians kind of lead sometimes in the chorus of showing partiality. Yeah. Exactly.

Yeah. And I tell you, walking around airports or malls or neighborhoods with this woman, Ann, she does that almost every day. She'll walk up to some stranger. I've seen you.

It's just amazing. And I think you couldn't have done that years ago when you were looking in the mirror and thinking, I'm not enough. Now you understand who you are in Christ. And she walks up to strangers and says, oh, man, let me tell you, your hair, your smile. And you just see them light up. You can tell.

They've never been told this by anybody because everybody else is competing against them. And it just brings life to their soul because you're sort of saying you're made in the image of God. You don't know this, but I see something in you.

I just want to say, wow. But Don is what you're saying, too, is the more you're in the scriptures, the more you have encounters with Jesus and this God who created us. You start to see yourself in the whole world and everyone else in a different way. And it transforms us. I mean, you think of the early Christians. I think we talked about this some when I was here last, but how the early Christians, how they treated the people around them and the people that they had innate bigotries against. And, you know, part of why the world kind of paid attention to Jesus is because the early Christians were nice to people who were persecuting them. And they treated them with dignity.

Why are you treating me with dignity? And I think this is some of why, right, is because we have a God and we have this biblical anthropology that says here's actually what humans are. Now, is every human also broken and fallen?

Yes, absolutely. Right. It's not that the only thing the Bible has to say is that all humans are wonderful. Obviously, that's not the whole story, but it's part of the story. Right. And I think when we just focus on fall, redemption, fall, redemption, and we don't say, well, actually the whole story is creation, fall, redemption, consummation.

That's actually the full biblical narrative. And that starts to, I think, invade these bad habits of how we see ourselves, how we treat others. So as you are studying gifting, spiritual gifts, common gifts, where do we start? If we want to discover our gifts, your book title, what do we do? So one of the things I would say to people is if you haven't heard about spiritual gifts, obviously pay attention to that. But one of the things our research showed us is when pastors are talking about gifts, they're talking about spiritual gifts. When Christians are reading books about gifts, they're reading books about spiritual gifts. And anytime they're talking about any other gifts, they're specifically talking about them in the context of a church.

So one of the more sobering statistics we found was when we asked people to, you know, agree, disagree to the following statements. And one of the statements was in my church, this was to pastors, in my church, people are celebrated for the gifts they have that they use in their everyday life. And another statement was people at my church are celebrated for the gifts they have that they use for the church's ministry.

And you can probably guess what the statistic was. We celebrate spiritual gifts and we celebrate common gifts that are used for the sake of the church. But we have multiple vocations. We have callings in our households, in our neighborhoods, at our jobs.

We're just not talking about it. So in answer to your question, that's my preamble, I am going to answer your question, where do we get started? My encouragement to people is think broader than maybe you're used to thinking. And I don't think most of us have in the church. We're always focused on the spiritual gifts and how God wants to use us to further the kingdom. But the common gifts, like we even answered one another's gifts, like what we're good at, they were spiritual gifts that we named. So it's interesting to distinguish that. You didn't talk about how you could shoot a free throw. I should have said that. You're the most athletic person I've ever met in my life. Some gifts do go away with age, by the way. Not that one.

If the hoop is like four feet high, it still works. No, but I think I remember walking up to a guy in our church years ago who is a CEO of a company. And I remember saying, hey, I know you're an usher here and probably like that.

I'm glad you do it. But I wonder if you could help me lead this meeting. I have a pretty high leadership meeting coming up and you're gifted, obviously, at that. And he looked at me like, you want to use that?

That gift? No, I serve here and I appreciate it. Nobody's ever asked me to use that. I'm like, my goodness, you have a better leadership gift than I do.

Even if we sat down and you help me structure what this meeting will look like, I guarantee you it's going to. And he just looked at me like nobody's ever asked for that here. And that's what you found out.

Absolutely. And people, you know, the research told us people are hungry for that. People are hungry to have their gifts discovered and they need help discovering their gifts. That's one of the things we found. And they really want to be able to connect their vocation and their other gifts, even with their church.

They long for that. Reminds me of the story of Gary Haugen who started International Justice Mission. I mean, he tells the story of like, he was, I think it was the same thing. He was an usher in his church. And he's this like brilliant lawyer who has all this experience in these justice issues in the world.

And then he just hit a place of saying, I bet I could use those gifts for God, too, in his kingdom. And then, of course, this fabulously successful, like profound, profoundly impactful ministry. That has affected the world.

That has affected the world. And I, you know, as a pastor, I wonder how many Gary Haugen's are hanging out in my church. And I'm like, hey, could you be a greeter? Nothing wrong with being a greeter. Like we need greeters and hospitality is at the core of the gospel. But are there people like, I love what you did because you said you, I know because of your life, you have these leadership gifts. And there are people with technical gifts and people with artistic gifts that I am not like naming those and calling those out. So that's sobering for me as a pastor. Yeah. Especially when you look at the research and you find that people really want to discover their gifts and they need help doing it. I preached decades ago.

I don't even know about what. But I mentioned that there's a ministry in Africa that we're connected to with the Pokot tribe in the bush. Their biggest need is water. Yeah. I mean, they have droughts and all this stuff. Anyway, I said, here's what it costs to put a well in Africa.

I think it was 25 grand at the time. We want to put some wells in. This guy comes up to me afterwards and I never met him. He goes, hey, I got an idea for a way to raise money to put more wells in Africa. What are you going to get? A couple of wells, you know, 50 grand? I go, I don't know.

What's your idea? He goes, I'm an athlete. I run marathons.

Like, I run many a year. I remember thinking, okay, what's that got to do with Africa and water wells? He goes, I think we could inspire people here to run for a purpose. I go, what's that mean? Run for a well in Africa. What do you mean? He goes, what if we created some kind of running club and each person tried to raise $1,000.

That's just the number I came up with. And we'll send that to put in a well in Africa. I'm like, what's your name?

What would it look like? I had no idea this guy was not only a marathoner. Organizer.

He is an organizer of people. He ended up starting, we said, okay, we're going to, you know, long story short, we got up and said, hey, if you want to run for, it was called Hope Water. And we're like, who's going to run a marathon? Nobody's going to want to run a marathon.

All these people signed up because they wanted to help. People had never run a mile. And he said every Saturday we're going to meet this thing.

He had a whole seven-month training thing. They ran in the Chicago Marathon the first year. I think we raised $100,000.

Listen to this. The next 12 years, and they're still doing it, we run in the Detroit Marathon. And I don't know what the number is, but I think it's about $6 to $7 million. We are the biggest running club in the nation. A church.

There's not a running club. It's just a bunch of people that run for Hope Water. And it was all because this guy had gifts that I never had. Could you call it a spiritual gift?

I don't know. He has a gift of leadership, but it was really just common gifts that he said, I want to use for the good of the gospel. He had technical gifts when it comes to running. He had passion for that.

He had leadership gifts, teamwork gifts. Here's the thing about that. That's a story. He came up to you. And I almost dismissed him.

And even at that, you almost dismissed him. So I love that story because it reminds us two things, like the power of listening to people and noticing their gifts. Because with me as a pastor, too, because you know what it's like. People come up to you with all kinds of stuff.

Just some of it's crazy or whatever. And it's like, I have my buckets. And if you want to come and talk about something in one of my buckets, then I'll listen to you. But what about the things I'm not thinking about?

And then what about the people who, for whatever reason, they're not going to initiate the conversation? What does it look like for us to initiate with them and to help grow people's imagination? Imagine what, here's the gifts you have. Be creative with those. Be thoughtful about those. To be thinking about how could I use those for the common good or how can I use those for the kingdom of God? And one of our other data points was that almost every church has a disorganized way of helping people discover their gifts and use them.

Very few churches have like a system or are proactive about it, but it's often like reacting, hey, someone says this and what do we do that? So that's part of what we dream about in the book is like, what if we just like paid a little more attention to it, thought about it a little bit more? Well, I love that you have a way to be able to assess your gifts. We can go online. What is it again?

Yeah, So with the research, like when we started finding out, A, gifts are really, really important. B, they matter to God and He gave them to you because He wants you to use them.

C, we're not talking about them very much and people have a hard time discovering them. So we like took the research and reverse engineered it and created a kind of a common gift assessment tool. Christians, non-Christians alike can use it. It's called the Every Gift Inventory and it kind of looks at these different areas and by asking people questions, just trying to help them think about themselves in different ways. We were talking about how I helped create this assessment tool and then, you know, when we had it up and running beta version, they said, well, Don, go in and take it to kind of test it, you know, see if it works, see if the tech works. I was blown away what I learned by doing it. And what it spit out at the end to say here's what you've said made me like recognize like I had been in a season of life where I was not using my leadership gifts. And this kind of held up a mirror to me and like one of my common gifts were leadership gifts. And it actually led to a vocational change for me because it helped me discover. And this is a tool you helped to create. Yeah, I knew it all. Yeah, I wrote all the sentences and did all that stuff. But there's something about going through the process and it's totally free. I mean, it's online. People can just do it and see what they can learn. I started doing it this morning. It's unlike any that I've taken.

I've taken a lot, but it's very unique. And I thought, Dave, we should both do it. It would be great as a family.

I mean, when you were saying that, Don, I thought, yeah, wouldn't it be cool if our listeners right now said let's do this as a family. Mom, dad, you're going to learn something about your kids. And I'm guessing because you learned about you're not using your leadership gift, you are thriving in your life.

That's what I'm guessing. I'm not saying everything's wonderful, but you're doing something you're good at. So that's when, I mean, often we do things we're not good at and we just hate our lives. It changed your whole course of life. It changed my course of life. I mean, you know, the company I was working at in doing the research was a little disappointed. I said, this was so successful. I've had an aha moment.

I need to be back in the church and I need to be using my leadership gifts. But God shapes us, gives us gifts so that we will use those in our vocations and in our callings in life. So you're right. And I do think every now and then, sometimes we're just in a season, just faithfully, just keep plugging away. Sometimes that's what it looks like. And other times it's good to get up off the dance floor, kind of take a look at how am I shaped? How has God made me?

What does that mean? And am I ignoring anything? Am I like being a bad steward of something God's been really generous with?

And it's just sitting there. You know, stick around because Dave Wilson is going to share with us one of the best pieces of advice he got when he was first starting out in ministry. I'm Shelby Abbott and you've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Don Everts on Family Life Today. And one of the best things that I've learned recently, and try to communicate to specifically college students when I speak on campuses, is that all that's been given to you doesn't belong to you. Your athletic ability, your sense of humor, maybe your great personality, your pretty face, your specific talent, it doesn't belong to you.

And I ask the students, frankly, do you think that belongs to you? It's been given to you as a way to invest for the glory of God and the good of his kingdom, and what a great reminder that has been today. Don has written a book called Discover Your Gifts, celebrating how God made you and everyone you know. This book explores the gifts God has given to everybody in the world and what new research reveals about the difference those gifts can make for us, our churches, and our communities. Discover Your Gifts is our gift to you when you partner with us financially.

You see what I did there? You can go online to, or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, that number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. And feel free to drop us something in the mail if you'd like.

Our address is Family Life, 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32832. All right, here's Dave Wilson to share one of the best pieces of advice he got when he was first starting out in ministry. Well, the best pieces of advice I was given as a young man just starting off in a vocation, and it was in ministry, was do what you're good at, find others to do what you're bad at. Now, that doesn't mean you don't develop your weaknesses.

That's right. But I thought at that moment, no, no, no, you do stuff, you do everything, because you shouldn't like everything you do, and if you're bad at it, well, you just got to do it. No, he said, you're good at something, God's given you a gift, you will love life and you'll love your job if you're doing that every day, and there's other people that are really good at what you're bad at.

Partner with them and let them do what they're good at that you're bad at. Now, coming up tomorrow, Dave and Ann Wilson are in the studio again with Don Evertz. Collectively, they're going to talk about how every couple struggles to see their partner's gifts over time. In fact, Dave is going to talk about how Ann didn't notice some of his giftings in their marriage. We hope you'll join us for that tomorrow. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-10 07:01:34 / 2023-07-10 07:15:19 / 14

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