People are different. That matters a lot.
We have different strengths, abilities and gifts that contribute to our uniqueness as a person. We also are unique in our weaknesses. Some people are prone to making rash, impulsive decisions while others are prone to passivity or “analysis paralysis.” We are different in our personalities and our preferences. And we are different in our perspectives on life and the world: the information we have, the culture we were raised in, the values we embrace and the priority that some values have over others. All these things give each of us a unique viewpoint, and unique blind spots as well. Out of all these differences, unique callings arise for each of us, our particular work to do in the world.
We even have diversity in the ways that we categorize our differences! The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator sets out sixteen personality types based on four categories, whereas the Enneagram envisions nine types. Different lists found in scripture are often used as inventories or typologies. Examples include the “Five-fold Gifts” of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd and Teacher found in Ephesians 4:11, and the list of seven gifts found in Romans 12:6-9. The StrengthsFinder and DISC inventories are additional ways of seeing the shape of our uniqueness. Each approach can help to give insight by what it reveals, while also making it harder to notice things that don’t fit into the categories being used.
Communities are unique as well, each one with its own strengths, weaknesses, personality, perspective and calling.
It’s important to know what makes us unique, to know about the uniqueness of the people around us (especially family members and coworkers), and to know the uniqueness of our community.
It’s important to respect these differences. Do not judge other people based on someone else’s gifts or strengths. Do not judge yourself, or let others judge you. Some people worship with exuberance, raising hands and singing with gusto. For them, extended contemplation may feel oppressive. Others find their passion in silence deep within and may feel inauthentic or “unspiritual” if they are expected to worship like the others. Do not judge. Some people are called to feed the hungry. Others are called to fix the system that perpetuates hunger. Are the first ones enablers? Do the second lack compassion? Do not judge.
It’s important to use our uniqueness. Author Frederick Buechner has written; “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.” Finding the intersection between your unique gifts and the unique needs around you is all about diversity. It will also call upon you to decide which good things will you choose not to do, since you can’t do them all. At the same time, diversity is not an excuse for abdication. Sometimes you are the best or only person God has on hand to deal with a situation whether you are gifted for it or not! Part of growing towards maturity is arriving at some basic level of competence in your non-gifted areas.
Romans 14:1-6; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31