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Gifts or Character

John Keller (Living Grace Church)

In the lead up to the recent election there was discussion about the relative merit of competence versus character. Is it better to have a leader who is up to the job, or to have a leader with character who can be respected and trusted?

The New Testament makes a distinction between giftedness and character. It uses the terms “gifts of the Spirit” and “fruit of the Spirit”. The gifts are the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to people to equip them to serve such as teaching, prophesying, encouraging, giving, leading and showing mercy (Romans 12:6-8). There are also special gifts like words of knowledge, wisdom, faith, healing, miracles, tongues and discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). The fruit are the character traits that the Holy Spirit grows in a Christian’s life such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23). We could add integrity and humility.

A leader may be very gifted but still be immature, self-centred and insensitive to others. The gifts need to be used with love, humility and sensitivity. Character development takes time. It is shaped by life’s circumstances and having a close relationship with God. Suffering plays a part too (Romans 5:3,4).

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