13 Ways to Utilize Your Gifts in Everyday Life

by Mark Votava


It seems that the idea of “gifts” is boxed up today into special talents for only a select few.  But gifts are in us all as we are created in the image of God.  God does not create humans without gifting us with the ability to love, live relationally and become compassionate in everyday life.

On my journey of life, the only thing I believe in anymore is what brings about love and compassion in the world.  Without this, all religious structures are meaningless and damaging to our humanity.  I am coming to see that love and compassion are the relational gifts we all can partake in to create a local fabric of care in the place we live.  This is indeed a miracle of grace in the twenty-first century when it starts to manifest among us.

So as I have been thinking about how can we redefine our gifts in a new light that is more inclusive.  Here are 13 ways to start on this path of utilizing our gifts as we seek to create a sense of relational connection in our world.

1. Take ownership and responsibility

We need to take ownership of our place.  We need to invest in our place.  We need to take some responsibility for our place.  This is what the parish imagination is about.

2. Become anti-colonial

We need to do these things in an anti-colonial way.  Colonialism will damage the parish.  But taking ownership, investing and responsibility with a listening posture will bring about the collective good of the place we inhabit together.  Colonialism does not exist within the parish imagination.

Wendell Berry says, “We cannot intend our good, in the long run, without intending the good of our place – which means, ultimately, the good of the world…” 

3. Pursue the collective good of the place you inhabit

All goodness exists within participating citizens who care about place.  In this is the preservation of the world that we live in.  We cannot pursue authenticity without pursuing the collective good of the place we inhabit.

4. Get out of an individualistic mindset

We all want the best for our lives, but we get mixed up if we pursue this individualistically.  We get mixed up when this is not integrated with our commitment to place.  A dualism is created within us when we do this.

5. Be intentional about a conversion of place

When we do not have an integration of self with place, we do not understand life holistically.  The self needs to be converted to the importance of place.  This will bring out life within us all, as we live together taking some ownership of the place we inhabit.  We must be intentional about pursuing the good of our place.

6. Embrace place as a gift

We must be intentional about our responsibility to the parish.  We must be intentional about our investment in our place together with our lives.  This is all gift.  It is a gift to create a local fabric of care through the parish imagination as the body of Christ in everyday life.

7. Contribute your gifts to the local fabric of care

All of us have gifts to contribute to our local community.  There are many ways to invest ourselves in the lives of others in the place that we inhabit together.  All of us have relational gifts that contribute to the local fabric of care in the parish.

Brian D. McLaren states, “We should use our gifts for the common good…” 

8. Realize that everyone has gifts

Our gifts are manifested in our humanity naturally through relational integration.  Our gifts live within us all.  We have gifts of love, gifts of grace, gifts of humility, gifts of authenticity, gifts of listening, gifts of compassion, gifts of presence, gifts of honesty, gifts of vulnerability, gifts of empathy, gifts of friendship, gifts of reconciliation, gifts of forgiveness, gifts of nonviolence, gifts of sensuousness, gifts of celebration, gifts of joy, gifts of seeing beauty, gifts of kindness, gifts of gentleness, gifts of peace, gifts of patience, gifts of learning from others and gifts of passion.

9. Be open to relational engagement with others in everyday life

Gifts don’t necessarily have to do with skills that we do, but are more about the things we manifest within us through relational engagement with others in everyday life.  We have a multitude of gifts living within us all, but they cannot develop without an integration of taking ownership, investing and responsibility in a place.  These gifts are place-based and flourish within the parish imagination for the common good.

10. Resist nonparticipation, irresponsibility and apathy

We have been reduced to nonparticipation, irresponsibility and apathy.  We have allowed modernity to dictate who we are and how we live.  We have been too influenced by rationalistic, individualistic ways of American life.

11. Cultivate awareness in your imagination

The parish imagination does not follow the thoughts of modernity.  The parish imagination takes ownership of our lives together in the place we inhabit.  The parish imagination participates with life in our local community.  The parish imagination is aware of being reduced to something that we are not.

Charlene Spretnak notes in her book The Resurgence of the Real, “The only way we can recover a full sense of being is to develop awareness of the modern reduction and to cultivate a deeper participation in life…” 

12. Become liberated from the ways of the empire

We will not be reduced to following the ways of the empire.  We will not be reduced in our humanity.  We will not be reduced to nothing, but become liberated to take ownership in our place.  We will not be reduced to the oppression of the status quo, but become liberated to invest in our place.

13. Become passionate

We will not be reduced to the labels that seek to identify us, but become liberated to practice responsibility in our place.  The parish imagination will not be reduced to traditional molds, but liberated to use our gifts for the common good of our place.  The participation of taking ownership, investing and responsibility in the place we inhabit together will bring us to a passionate state of engagement.  This will lead us to a holistic counterculture among us.

In what ways can you utilize your gifts to contribute to a local fabric of care?