My five-year-old granddaughter, Adeline, and I had a day out on the town. Throughout, she walked up to perfect strangers saying things like, “My name is Adeline and this is my Granna. What’s your name? Oh, what a beautiful name you have. I like your name! Your name reminds me of flowers. Flowers smell so good. I bet you smell good, too. Let me see.” (Stretching forward on one toe she sniffed mid-air.) “Oh my goodness, you do smell good. I bet it’s your shampoo. I always smell good after Mommy shampoos my hair, too. But you don’t need anybody to shampoo your hair because you’re a grownup. I have Frozen shampoo at Granna’s. Do you have Frozen shampoo? That’s silly. You’re a grownup, and you wouldn’t have Frozen shampoo unless you have a little granddaughter like me.” (The woman? Not a day over thirty.) “Look, there’s someone else in line. Hi! How are you? My… you have such beautiful eyes. What color are they? Your eyes are blue? Mine are honey-brown, not dark brown. My baby brother’s eyes are blue. His name is Sean. Sean’s not with Granna today. He had to stay home because this is my special time with Granna. Ooh, I like your hair! Your hair is like a cloud—white and puffy. My Mamaw McCauley and Aunt Vonnie have cloud hair. “
By the last stop I initiated a discussion about good and bad strangers and how one cannot always tell the difference between them. But of course a stranger is not a stranger anymore once you tell them your name and they tell you theirs. Then you know them, right?
As a small child, I was just like Adeline. I know this because the family called me Little Margie, and this was usually followed by laughter. Margie was my paternal grandmother who loved to talk. She had a heart as wide as the ocean, but nothing stayed in it. She spilled it everywhere on people, giving them waves of flowers, meals, words, and other pieces of herself.
As I grew, I learned people were not always kind, and they didn’t always want to know me. That’s when my stuffing began, and I learned to keep my mouth shut more often. Who wants to open their mouth and get hurt?
So, the real title and question of this blog is, How Do You Know If You Have a Speaking Gift? Need I tell you more than the story of Adeline?
Operating in your giftedness always comes with a price whether you speak to individuals, on paper to those you envision as your reading audience, or out loud to a group. Discretion and being led by the Holy Spirit are learned over time and by the maturing process.
That same afternoon Adeline and I shopped she said, “Granna, you’re the BEST!” But in practically the same breath she said, “Granna, do you like it that I said that to you?” No problems with humility or personal acceptance, huh?
Adeline showers approval and blessing on everyone, but isn’t she pouring out of her need? That’s how encouragement and the gift of exhortation are released. Christ meets our needs through his boundless grace, love, and acceptance, and the exhorter gives back. We make knowing ourselves and the Bible so hard. If you have a speaking gift, it’s simple. Open your mouth and dispense His Words of life.
While Adeline sat on the floor playing next to my adult hearing impaired son, adopted from South Korea at age seven, she said, “Good! So good, Joshua! You’re learning to speak English!” From that moment, she continued to model language for him in exaggerated speech for well over ten minutes. Most likely Joshua learned a new word or two that afternoon. Adeline’s desire for him in that moment was to lead, teach, and bring his language up a notch.
Oh, but the heart of the exhorter has more than motives to praise and comfort people. They have strong desire for people to come up higher and be full of the Holy Spirit.
Are you being true to yourself, exhorter? (Prophet? Teacher?) True to the way God created you? Has He called you out for such a time as this? Or are you keeping your mouth shut. Don’t masquerade as someone else. Your God inspired words are pieces to others puzzles, and without those pieces…
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Roman’s 12: 4-6
Listen for His Whispers