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Everything you wanted to know about your talents, abilities and gifts, but were afraid to ask!

Natural talents are the gift of God
Natural talents are abilities that are part of who you are — they may be artistic talents, intelligence, physical strength, organizing ability and so on. They are something that is ‘innate’ — part of us. Sometimes they are ‘latent’ — unrecognized and unused until some life circumstance brings them forward, and we discover that we have this hidden capacity or talent that we had know nothing about. These ‘talents’ are part of the way God made us.

Learned abilities are a gift from God
Learned abilities are the result of our informal and formal education — things we have learned to do as a result of observing other people do them [in the first instance, our parents], or by deliberately learning how to do them [at school, university or ‘on the job’].

Sometimes learned abilities overlap with our natural talents. For example, a person with a musical talent who has also studied music in a formal way.Complete Section #2 in the Study Five Worksheet now.

Identifying your natural talents and learned abilities
With the help of interactive discussion with your Christian peers, make an inventory of your natural talents and learned abilities. Include everything you and they can think of.Do this in Section #3 of the Study Five Worksheet now.

The inter-relatedness of the three areas of ability

Natural talents are abilities we are born with. Someone might, for example, naturally be a fast runner or have the ability to sing in tune. These talents become evident as we grow and mature, as opportunities for their use or expression occur, and as our environment facilitates their development. It is possible that a person might never know what their natural talents are if their environment was repressive and/or no opportunities to express and use these talents arose.

Learned abilities are abilities which we have learned either by our own personal observations and trial and error, or by being taught by someone else. Sometimes learning a skill can cause a natural talent to come to light and/or be maximized. For example: a person with a natural talent for maths has to be taught geometry or algebra, but because they have mathematical talent they will learn it far more quickly and efficiently than a person who has no mathematical talent; and, having been taught, will be able to develop and use their natural talent beyond where it was before they were taught.

Spiritual gifts are God-given abilities of a particular spiritual nature and/or a spiritual purpose. They may or may not over-lap or coincide with natural talents or learned abilities. For example: a person may be born with an aptitude for teaching. He goes to university and learns the practical ins and outs of teaching. This gives direction and boundaries in which his natural talent is used. After his conversion and subsequent study of the Scripture he discovers that he has the spiritual gift of teaching — something that is more than his natural talent or learned ability: that God works powerfully and effectively through his teaching of the word of God for the instruction and edification of his people. [This includes God enabling him both to understand and to present his Word with spiritual clarity and spiritual power and authority.]

As we observe in action, we can see:

  • Spiritual gifts, learned abilities and natural talents coinciding
  • Spiritual gifts as the development of natural talents or learned abilities.
  • Spiritual gifts that are apparently totally additional to natural talents and learned abilities.

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