“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with the rest of my life,” I told my sister as I started senior year in college.
Part of me felt called to the priesthood. Another part wanted to go to law school so I could become a lawyer and stomp out injustice.
My sister suggested I meet with her friend, Bishop Tom, to talk through my quandary. Desperate for guidance, I agreed.
The next weekend I had dinner with Bishop Tom. He greeted me at the front door of his townhome with a friendly handshake. His salt and pepper hair made me guess he was in his mid-sixties. His “c’mon in” smile put me at ease.
For the next two hours, Bishop and I enjoyed a laidback dinner and a good chat. He shared a piece of wisdom that set my life on course.
Unwrap Your Spiritual Gifts
Bishop suggested God was inviting me to discern my spiritual gifts. “When we discover our gifts,” he said, “we find our purpose.”
“What’s a spiritual gift?” I asked.
“A spiritual gift is a charism,” he said. “They’re unique abilities God gives us so we can be a powerful channel to create more love in the world. Getting in touch with our spiritual gifts allows us to see the needs of others in new ways and discover how we can make a difference.” He paused to make sure I was following. “And when we use our spiritual gifts,” he continued, “we are blessed with inner peace and joy. We live with deeper purpose and meaning.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “We become a co-creator with God.”
The Apostle Paul addresses spiritual gifts in three main sections of scripture: Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. Peter also verifies their existence in I Peter 4:10. Through these scriptures, we learn we’ve all been given spiritual gifts.
How Do We Discover Our Spiritual Gifts?
Bishop Tom suggested I take a Spiritual Gifts Inventory—a series of questions that help us identify our unique talents.
A few days later, I took the Inventory. My top five gifts came out as: learning, teaching, writing, encouragement, and administration.
It was a neat experience, but I didn’t know how to apply the results. I called Bishop Tom and again asked him for guidance.
“Add the inventory results to the threads forming within the tapestry of your life,” he said. “How do they fit together in a pattern?”
“I suppose as a lawyer, I’ll get to study the law, help clients follow it, and maybe even do workshops to teach people about their legal rights and options. That’d allow me to use my gifts. I’ve also met an amazing woman who I hope someday will be my wife.”
“Then trust your heart and follow it,” he said. “Trust the faith that comes before doubt.”
His words sealed the deal for me. I took a leap of faith and entered law school.
And Then It’s Half-Time
For the next twenty-five years, I practiced law, counseled and encouraged clients, taught estate planning workshops, and, with my wife, raised our family. I volunteered at church and spent time writing in my journal. It felt like I was using my spiritual gifts to help others. I was happy.
But, as our children launched into college, I felt restless. Empty.
I wondered if there were more to life. Something poked me from the inside. Maybe it was time for a change—a second career.
Don, my spiritual mentor, explained there are two halves of our lives. The first half is our survival phase. We get our educations, find a mate, maybe raise a family, and launch a job or career.
Around age forty or fifty, we get restless. Life becomes dreary, meaningless. We question our life choices and try to numb the suffering that often accompanies this transition into the next season of life.
Some call this a midlife crisis. But, according to Don, it’s actually the Holy Spirit inviting us to move into the second half of life. In his book, Half Time, Bob Buford says it’s an invitation—a God-nudge—to move from success to significance.
Like in a football game, half-time invites us to pause. It’s a chance to take stock of our lives and seek God’s guidance for the second half of life.
At Don’s suggestion, I brushed the dust off my Spiritual Gifts Inventory. I asked God to show me where I was being invited in this new season of life.
Surprised by Serendipity
As I revisited my Spiritual Gifts Inventory, the answer unfolded.
A friend read some of my journal writings and a short book I was penning. He told me I was a writer and needed to pursue my gift to encourage others. In 2016, I started a weekly blog, which I still maintain. And I continue to write and publish practical, inspirational books.
I also enrolled in a spiritual direction certification program, got a Masters in Pastoral Counseling, and become a spiritual director.
Finally, I followed my passion for teaching. Now, I’m having fun creating half-day and weekend workshops from the wisdom I’ve learned from others over the years.
By letting God lead me and seeking wise counsel to help me discern, I have claimed my spiritual gifts and use them to encourage others.
Plug Into Your Spiritual Gifts
God has given us unique talents to make the world a better place. When we discover those gifts, and share them with others, we become fully alive. We experience joy. Purpose. Fulfillment. We co-create with God. We stand in the power of who we are and who we’re meant to be.
Discover your spiritual gifts by clicking on the link below to download and take the free Spiritual Gifts Inventory.
The world needs you and your unique charisms.
Discover them—use them—and tap into joy.
—brian j plachta
An Added Bonus: Click here for a 3 minute fun video about Tommy and Becky’s awakening to their spiritual gifts.
UPCOMING JULY WEBINAR: DOES GOD WANT YOU TO “FIND YOUR HAPPY?”
- Why is happiness for those on the spiritual path, especially for Christians, one of the most difficult, elusive emotions?
- Is it wrong to be happy?
- Is God okay with us being happy?
- Is happiness a choice?
- Are there spiritual practices you’ve incorporated into your daily life to increase your level of inner happiness?
The Finding Flow Webinar will be on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm (Eastern US Time). Click on the link below to learn more and to register.