what is a charism of the Holy Spirit?

Here’s the dictionary definition:

an extraordinary power given to a Christian by the Holy Spirit for the good of the Church

let’s break that open.

Etymologically, the word “charism” comes from the Greek charis, meaning grace, free gift.

The word “grace” gives expression to the gift that allows Christians to participate in the divine life in Christ through the Holy Spirit.

It is what makes a baptized person a child of God and a member of the Church.

And when you’re a child of God, you’re not a foster child, or a child until you prove yourself, or a servant who has to keep up their quality of work to keep their place in the house. You’re in. It’s done.

Even if you never discern your charisms of the Holy Spirit.

Even if you get everything wrong.

God’s love is not conditional, and that gives us the freedom to explore our charisms of the Holy Spirit with joy.

As you may have heard your parents say, or you may have said yourself as a parent: it’s not something you have to do, it’s something you get to do.

charisms of the Holy Spirit are about serving, not earning.

Our charisms are an invitation into who God created us to be, which is also who we most truly are.

The gift of our identity – set before we ever discern anything – is the gift that gives us the freedom to explore and play and let this process ultimately take time.

therefore discerning them can be fun!

Have you ever heard the St. Teresa of Avila quote: “From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!” ?

There are some approaches that can suck the joy out of charisms of the Holy Spirit discernment and make it a stressful, fearful process, mired in hang-ups about being prideful, discerning wrong, and disappointing God. 

We don’t buy into any of that.

As we said, you’re set. God loves you – signed, sealed, and delivered. As long as you are living your life of faith honestly, earnestly pursuing spiritual growth and relationship with God you don’t need to be fearful about “guessing wrong.”

let’s extend the family metaphor because it helps:

God is truly a good father. You are truly His child. And charisms of the Holy Spirit are best thought about like your assigned “chores” in the family of God. 

You’re not going to be disowned or unloved if you don’t do them, but they are important to do – for your good and the good of the family.

Not because Mom and Dad can’t do them, or won’t do them, but because it forms you to help.

This is how charisms of the Holy Spirit work. It’s not that God can’t fill in the gaps without us, it’s that it’s good for us to help.

And so fear and pride around charisms makes about as much sense as feeling prideful or afraid about having chores to do… I mean, I guess you could, but just…why?

sound like something you want to spend some time with?

Take one of these steps next to continue your journey:


Tap here to learn more about what the specific charisms are, and read through our frequently asked questions in a special free PDF download.


Tap here to begin your own journey of charism discernment by taking our online charism assessment and receive a personalized report of your charisms and discernment next steps.


Tap here to take our full on-demand Charism Discernment Retreat covering all 24 charisms, led by our director, Jill Simons, which includes our signature online charism assessment.