Community, Living Free, Marriage & Family, Motherhood, Relationships

Making People in Our Own Image

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”

~ Albert Einstein

As a young girl, after becoming a Christian, the Lord impressed upon me a deep awe & respect for each person He created. Every individual gives the world a glimpse of who God is, and He made each of us perfectly unique with an ability to point people to Himself.

Yet many times, us believers try to mold people into being ‘more like us’ or someone they’re not. This displeases the Lord greatly because it sidelines people from the purposes He made us for!

The reality is, God didn’t make you & I like each other for a reason! We may share qualities or physical features, but each of us is incredibly unique.

What Motivates People?

Scripture talks about the motivational gifts in Romans 12:

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:

if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;
if service, in our serving;
the one who teaches, in his teaching;

the one who exhorts, in his exhortation;
the one who contributes, in generosity;
the one who leads, with zeal;
the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

People’s motivational gifts — the driving force behind their actions — may look like this:

A teacher is driven to study the Word & share their knowledge.
A prophetic person is driven to understand God’s will in each situation, apply His word appropriately, & build up believers in their faith.
A service-oriented believer is driven to be “hands on” — offering practical support to others (this is my wonderful husband)!
An exhorter is driven to encourage others & lift their spirits, drawing people closer to God & building up their faith.
A giver is motivated by opportunities to give to those in need & provide resources to ministries/projects — often funding God’s work.
Leaders are driven to manage things, encouraging people towards a common goal & directing organizations with incredible grace.
Those gifted in mercy are motivated to help hurting people & lift their spirits through acts of kindness & thoughtful words/gestures.

Do you see how our differences could lead to conflict? And do you see how people could misunderstand — even judge — another person wrongly if they have a different motivational gift?

We’d ALL do well to study God’s word, see how it applies to our situation, serve others, lead in the places we’re called, give generously to others, encourage people, & demonstrate mercy to one another! But we can’t do all of these things simultaneously.

As such, God saw fit to gift us in different areas and call us to different things. Together, we balance one another out & operate “as one body”: His! 🙂

Using Motivational Gifts to Better Relate to People

Just as knowing someone’s “Love Language” & personality can revolutionize how you treat them, understanding someone’s motivational gift will give you insight into their actions & help you relate to them, support them & encourage them better.

It’s easier to love people when you aren’t constantly judging them through the lens of YOUR motivational gift.

A mercy-driven person may look at a service-driven person and think “Why don’t they stop & notice people who are struggling? Do they care about people? Why are they always doing, doing, doing?” A service-driven person, on the other hand, may see a mercy-driven person & wonder, “Why are they so lazy? They’re always talking to people, wasting time & not taking care of their responsibilities. Less talk, more action!” (Reminds me of 2 famous sisters: Mary & Martha!) 🙂

An exhorter may think a prophetic person is too negative & discouraging to people, while a prophetic person may think an exhorter is dishonest in how they “encourage” people, twisting scripture to fit their positive agenda. (Sounds like a lot of ‘Prosperity Gospel’ detractors!)

Believers may misconstrue the giver as money-obsessed & worldly, but perhaps God gifted them in the financial arena so they could make a lot & GIVE it away?! What if their focus on money is about how many people they can help… does that give you a different perspective of such people?

I know a number of wealthy people who use their resources to bless many people, fund amazing businesses & schools & ministries, & help people in need. Certainly not every wealthy person falls into this category, but to judge a Christian for being gifted in business & graced with the ability to make a lot of money is unkind and wrong. God made them to help fund His Kingdom work!

We need to quit coming down hard on people we’re different than. We need EVERY gift, or else God wouldn’t have called them “gifts” 🙂

Each gift has a “strength out of control”, however, that will help us bear with one another better:

Greed, worldly focus & mistrust (the giver);

Being a doormat (the servant);

Being “all heart” & lacking discernment (mercy);

Depression & hurting people’s feelings (prophecy);

Getting mired in details, black & white thinking, & being judgmental (teacher);

Neglecting details & “lesser” responsibilities (leaders);

Being people-pleasers, mishandling truth, & telling people what they “want to hear” instead of what they need to hear (encouragers).

What Spiritual Gift Do They Have?

The Bible also mentions spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, given by the Holy Spirit upon salvation {my emphases added}:

“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 

for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills…..

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

Understanding not only of what MOTIVATES other Christians (& yourself) and how each of us is uniquely gifted spiritually will help us have more grace with others.

It will also help us realize that people aren’t meant to be just like us! And maybe it’ll give us insight into how certain people seem to chronically misunderstand us.

I’ve found that trying to understand where people are coming from — & showing them where I’m coming from — opens eyes all around & makes everyone happier.

Encouraging Your Family Members’ Gifts

As parents, we have the incredible privilege of helping our children become who they really are! (Sounds weird, huh?) This doesn’t mean we encourage them to indulge their selfish/bratty side :D. But our goal as parents isn’t to make Mini Me’s. If God wanted our kids to be our clones, why were they necessary?

My daughter isn’t here to fulfill some unfulfilled purposes of my life — that’s what I’M here for! My daughter is here to fulfill her unique purpose and be her unique self. When we wrap our own ego into our children, we warp their personalities and impose demands on them they can never measure up to. This leads to frustration for everyone & a squelching of who your kids really are 🙁

A great part of our mission as parents is to steward their hearts & gifts well — praying for wisdom on each child’s unique wiring, “calling out” their gifts, & helping them develop them! 🙂

“Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘Grow, grow.’”

~ The Talmud

We don’t want to shame our kids for not being as studious as us (as long as they’re trying their best), being “too artsy”, reading too much or not playing our favorite sport. This isn’t honoring who God made them to be: Unique creations reflecting Him in a totally new way!!

If you have 10 kids, you will find you have 10 very different souls, bodies, minds & personalities. There will be 10 sets of strengths & weaknesses, and 10 different spiritual & motivational gifts.

You can’t parent them all exactly the same because they respond differently to the same type of discipline — what works for one kid would be a disaster for the next, lol! I haven’t had this privilege yet, but I’m excited to have more children & see how uniquely God made each one. I LOVE to see His nature reflected in how He made each person.

“Creation puts in your hands the responsibility of nurturing a human being into maturity.  You must do so without turning the child into your creation, which will only choke the magic of her being. Treat your child with reverence and you need no parenting manuals.”

— Naomi Aldort

The Purpose of Our Unique Differences

  1. Build up the body of Christ & complete His body
  2. Reveal aspects of God that no one else quite can!

So cool. When we encourage our children — our spouses — & even ourselves to embrace all of our unique selves & special giftings, we’re encouraging them (& us) to glorify God!! Glorifying God simply means to reveal more of His character on earth & show people what He’s really like 🙂

We’ve all fallen into the trap of “making people into our own image”. Don’t go your whole life making this mistake and experiencing continual frustration that people aren’t like you, your kids aren’t like you & won’t just “do what you want them to” (haha), or that people at work / church / your local Starbucks / any place you go aren’t acting more like you think they should & less like they really are. After all, people are just being themselves.

People are people. They aren’t always embracing the Jesus life (that’s for sure) so I’m not saying ALL our frustrations with others aren’t warranted, many of our conflicts could be avoided by simply understanding that God wired us differently — & that’s okay. In fact, IT’S GOOD.

Strive to put yourself in other people’s shoes more, listening closely for what truly makes them tick & how they’re uniquely wired. This will make you a more emotionally intelligent person & a better spouse, parent, manager, employee, friend — a better human.

This world needs a lot more compassion, grace & love & a lot less judgment! 🙂 It also needs Christians to lead by example — loving our differences instead of trying to make everyone fit into the same “church” mold. No, I don’t mean accepting & condoning sinful behavior, but I do mean having grace with people’s unique giftings & CELEBRATING each person for their special contribution to God’s body.

Celebrate your family members! I know I do. I’m SO glad they’re wired differently than I am — & I think it’s cool when they celebrate who I am made to be, too.
Celebrate your kids & the amazing ways God designed each of them 🙂
Celebrate your different coworkers & the vital contributions they make to your team.
Celebrate your neighbors, & how they all meet a certain need in your community that no one else can.
Celebrate the differences in your friends & your fellow church members because they bring balance & joy & strength to the whole group & make life better for all.
And celebrate yourself. You are unique and necessary, just the way you are. Your “quirks” are likely part of the gifts God wants to bring to the world — through you!! Don’t hide them, & don’t encourage others to hide theirs.

When we do this, our eyes will be opened to how incredibly creative the Lord is & the unique mark He makes on the world through every person He’s made.

Ultimately when we allow ourselves, our children & other people to be who God created us to be, we celebrate God Himself.

“God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him.”

~Genesis 1:27

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