- An award isn't a gift, because you did something to earn it.
- A reward isn't a gift, because again, you did something to earn it.
- A prisoner having his sentenced reduced due to "good behavior" hasn't received a gift, because his conduct helped him earn that reduction.
But if something was given to you "just because" and you had NOTHING to do with it, then it is a true gift.
It's like in the Bible when the apostles were given the "gift of tongues" by the Holy Spirit. After Jesus went back to heaven, the apostles went to Jerusalem waiting for the Holy Spirit. While they were praying, the Holy Spirit fell on them and gave them the ability to speak languages that they have never learned before. When a crowd came in and heard all these guys speaking their languages, some of them thought that they were drunk -- to which the apostle Peter replied, "These guys aren't drunk. It's only nine in the morning!"
Just imagine that out of nowhere, you were able to speak a second language and understand what you're saying.
In the same way, a gift is something that you are able to do without any training -- as if that ability was miraculously given to you. When I was a child, my mother learned of my artistic gift when I was given something to draw, and the picture looked like the item I was drawing. Little by little, I started having a love for drawing and I was able to copy pictures almost exactly as how I saw them. There were pictures that I drew with a pen and made NO mistakes in drawing them! No eraser needed! I went to an art middle school and an art high school -- but I didn't go to these places to learn to draw. None of the classes I've attended taught you how to draw. It was already assumed that you were gifted to draw -- all these classes did was to give some guidance so as to sharpen your gift.
For other people, art isn't a gift -- drawing stick figures is the best they could do!
A "skill," however, is something that you learn. Originally, the meaning of the word was "to separate" or "to distinguish." In other words, a skill involves working with your hands. Any work you do involves some sort of separation of items, such as sorting mail, building a house, cooking food...or brushing your teeth (separating food particles from your teeth). A skill can be taught to anybody, because anybody could learn to separate or to distinguish -- such as a cop spotting a suspicious person, or a firefighter knowing what building is on fire, or a surgeon knowing how to remove a tumor.
Gifts and skills work hand-to-hand. Many of us are gifted at one thing but don't know how to use it. Imagine that you gave your daughter a car for her birthday. She's excited and squealing like a mouse! But unless she knows how to actually drive it, her gift is just going to stay in that driveway. The car is the gift, but she can't use that gift until she learned the skill of driving.
Imagine that you have a gift that could make you money. Maybe you could easily learn how to play several types of instruments. But you lack the skills in knowing how to use that gift to make money. Maybe you lack the skill to finding a job where you could use that gift, or making a business where you could use that gift.
Maybe you've been gifted at leadership. You naturally know how to lead. You could be a great CEO or a great manager. However, you lack certain skills required for leadership such as knowing who to hire, how to market your company, and how to handle finances.
Maybe you've been gifted with the ability to gain a lot of muscles! However, you don't know how to lift weights! If you did, you'd probably be a hulk! Not everybody has the gift to get big and muscular.
Once you learn how use your gifts and skills together, that is when you could truly accomplish what you want in life. So many of us have the gifts, but not the skills. Yet many of us are skilled in everything, but we don't know what we're gifted in.
I've been going to church ever since I was 10, and I will say that I've seen gifted preachers and skilled preachers. The gifted preachers are those who could preach the Holy Ghost in you! But some of these preachers aren't skilled at studying their Bibles. Then you have the preachers who are probably boring to listen to, but they are skilled at studying their Bibles. The best preachers have been those who could both motivate you and know how to tell you what the Bible really says on the matter.
You see, if you want to maximize the person you are, you need to know what your gifts are and you need to learn the skills to use those gifts. Once you could put your gifts and skills together, you'd be going places!
One of my problems have been learning the right skills to promote my gifts. I know exactly what I'm gifted in, but I don't always have the skills to show the world what my gifts are. My wife would tell me, "You have so much talent (gifts), but you want to look for minimum wage jobs!"
But whenever I work at these low-paying jobs and learn the gifts of my co-workers, I'd be thinking the same thing about them! I knew one girl who worked at the warehouse that I worked in who knew about six languages. She's going to school to be a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Nothing against CNAs...but six languages, man! I barely speak a second language. She needs some serious guidance as to what to do with her life! With that kind of gift to pick up languages that easily, she needs to be working for the United Nations or start her own language school!
Look at the gifts that you have and find out what skills you need to promote those gifts. I dare say that the reason we have so many gifted people working at dead-end jobs is because they lack the right skills. Yes, they are skilled at many things, but they are skilled at the WRONG things. If you want to start moving in life, you need to start learning the RIGHT skills.
- Yes, learning how to do software programming is neat...but does it help you promote your gifts?
- Yes, learning how to play a guitar is neat...but does it help you promote your gifts?
- Yes, learning how to swallow fire is...well...a pretty neat (yet dangerous) skill...but does it help you promote your gifts?
Don't spend your short time on earth chasing after skills that don't help your gifts. Also, don't participate in things that you aren't gifted in. Each of us has a gift that can't be taken away. Now it's time to learn how to use them.