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As Christians, discerning and using our spiritual gifts, or charisms, is a fundamental aspect of our faith journey. However, the process of discerning and utilizing these gifts can be deeply influenced by the feedback we receive from others. In this blog post, we will explore how feedback from others plays a crucial role in helping us discern and use our spiritual gifts effectively.


The Distinction Between Identity and Charisms


Before delving into the role of feedback in discerning spiritual gifts, it’s important to distinguish between our identity and our charisms. Our identity as beloved children of God is not contingent on others’ feedback. We are inherently valuable and loved by God, irrespective of external opinions. This identity is rooted in our relationship with God and should not be dependent on others’ affirmations.
On the other hand, charisms are unique spiritual gifts bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit. Discerning and using these gifts often involves seeking feedback from others to gain insight into how our gifts are perceived and how they manifest in our actions and interactions.


The Impact of Feedback on Discernment


When in the process of discerning our spiritual gifts, seeking feedback from individuals who have life experience with us and who actively pursue a life of grace can provide valuable insights. This feedback can help us recognize patterns, strengths, and areas for growth in how our charisms are expressed. However, it’s essential to discern the source of feedback and consider whether the individuals providing it are aligned with a grace-filled perspective.


Commitment Phase and Feedback


Once we have discerned and committed to utilizing our spiritual gifts, the role of feedback evolves. While constructive feedback can guide us in honing the expression of our charisms, we must also discern whether certain feedback aligns with God’s calling for us. Negative feedback that undermines our commitment to using our gifts may be resistance rather than constructive critique.


The Role of God’s Feedback


Throughout the discernment and utilization of spiritual gifts, seeking God’s guidance remains paramount. Ultimately, God’s feedback should hold primary importance in our decision-making and how we apply our charisms. Staying aligned with God’s guidance, especially during periods of desolation or doubt, is integral to remaining steadfast in using our spiritual gifts.

In conclusion, feedback from others plays a significant role in our journey of discerning and utilizing our spiritual gifts. While it can provide valuable insights and perspectives, discerning the source and aligning feedback with God’s calling is essential. By acknowledging the impact of feedback, discerning between constructive critique and resistance, and prioritizing God’s guidance, we can navigate the discernment and utilization of our spiritual gifts with wisdom and discernment.

Jill Simons:


Hello, and welcome to Charisms for Catholics. My name is Jill Simons, and I’m the executive director at Many Parts Ministries where we equip the Body of Christ by helping people learn about and discern their charisms, which is really another word for spiritual gifts. When you discern your charisms, you’re able to see how the Holy Spirit is already active in your life and where he is guiding you to further build the Church. Let’s dive in. Hello, my friends. Today, we are going to be talking about how other other people’s feedback helps us discern our charisms. I get pushed back on this sometimes because a lot of people will get really caught up in, oh, I don’t know, what we’ve been told our entire lives that we don’t, judge ourselves and our worth based on other people’s feedback and fair. That is true in every other situation.

Jill Simons:


So this is gonna be the one exception in life that we are really gonna put a lot of stock in what other people say, and then we’re gonna continue not putting a lot of stock in what other people say in other areas of our life. So we’re gonna break down why that’s the case and how we can really discern what feedback we’re using and what feedback we can disregard. So just as a baseline, I want to really separate charisms and identity here. So we have the identity quotient on the assessment that talks about, really where we are at In terms of viewing ourselves the way that God views us. And so this is not, the identity part is not something we want to base on other people’s feedback. We don’t want to be waiting for other people to like us, approve of us, accept us, say we’re doing a great job before we accept what it is that God says about us, which is that we have inherent worth because he has created us and that we are loved, seen, known, and valued even if we never do anything correctly, that he desires to share his grace with us and invite us into relationship with him. And when When we can live from that place, we find a freedom that is not not like anything else that we can find in life. So that we want to keep solely between God and ourselves as an individual.

Jill Simons:


We don’t wanna be waiting for our spouse, our friends, our parents, our siblings to affirm us in that before we accept what God says about us. Now if they do affirm us in that, that is lovely and very nice, but we don’t wanna be waiting on assessment on that. Charisms, on the other hand, are a different kind of thing, and that is exactly why we really encourage you to kind of get identity moving in the right direction at a minimum before we’re really investing in charisms. Because if you have not received that kind of deep knowing about your identity from your relationship with God and you head into the feedback portion of it can get really confusing and get really hard to place in your or internal, emotional, and spiritual life. Because if you don’t have your identity really grounded in what it is that God says about you and who he sees you as, that feedback we get on our charisms instead of being relatively objective information becomes very personal and can become hurtful feelings. So for instance, If you are operating from a place of healthy identity, someone saying, “I don’t think that this is really your thing. I haven’t really seen any supernatural fruit from this,” can feel like a personal affront, can feel like you are failing in some way. But when you’re in a place where your identity is in a good in good shape, Typically, you can be like, yeah. I think you’re probably right.

Jill Simons:


That doesn’t seem like my thing. And there’s not that emotional entanglement in whether or not you have been given a certain gift. I hope that makes sense. Please send me questions via email if there’s further clarification I can do around that. But once our identity is doing well, is is in a generally healed place, when we look at feedback from others in terms of our charisms, we can evaluate it much more objectively, right, because we don’t have that need for someone to say something about us. So another just kind of illustrative example of this would be myself speaking. I have always been gifted as a speaker. I have a degree in theater, and I’ve always, you know, really pursued a lot of theater ever since I very young and had a lot of talent for it, a lot of natural aptitude.

Jill Simons:


As an adult, I’ve really discerned that these gifts for speaking, these kind of natural talents are go hand in hand for me with my charism of leadership. So Speaking ability is not something that’s like a prerequisite for leadership, but that is one of the ways that my leadership charism finds its expression. And so before I did a lot of this work on my personal identity, I was really, really attached to the feedback that I got on my speaking or how I perceived that I was being received. So If I were to speak and it were to seem like everybody was bored and falling asleep, I would take that very personally. And I would really Internalize the fact that I was not interesting, not engaging, and that felt like the truest thing about me. Whereas, though I am far from perfect, I have moved towards a much more healed identity for myself so that now when I speak, I really would love them to enjoy it. That’d be great if you enjoy it, but It doesn’t mean anything about me to myself if they don’t. I know that I am there speaking because I’ve been called, because that is a part of the work that I’ve been asked to do within the Church.

Jill Simons:


And so it’s on me to do that work even if people don’t wanna receive it. And I have a lot of peace and clarity about that so that now even if it seems like everybody hated it, which for what it’s worth hasn’t happened yet. But if it were to happen, I would be able to be detached from that outcome, that feedback from them because the identity piece of things is in place for me. Therefore, if somebody were to give me thoughtful feedback in terms of, like, oh, I don’t think that, you know, this is what, you’re really this is where you’re seeing supernatural fruit in your work. I would be much more able to take that to prayer and consider it. Now let’s draw a few lines in the sand here with in terms of charisms and discernment and receiving feedback. We’re gonna put this into kind of three categories for you. First of all, you have the feedback that you receive when you seek it during the discernment process.

Jill Simons:


So in order for this to be helpful and accurate, we want to put a couple qualifications on it. First of all, we wanna be seeking feedback from people that both have life experience with us, so has no have known us for some length of time. Also, someone who we know to be pursuing a life of grace. We don’t need to, like, interrogate them about whether they’ve been to confession lately, but it needs to be a person that to the best of our knowledge is seeking to receive grace, cooperate with grace, live in grace, making use of the sacraments, etcetera. Now feedback we receive from other people is not worthless and invalid and all of those things. But when you have someone giving us feedback on where God is moving, we would love to see that person being a person who is already looking for the movement of God in their lives just because that aligns with being most aware of of what it looks like when he moves. So that’s kind of where we’re looking there. We also don’t want to be receiving feedback from people that we have, kind of contemptuous, struggling relationships with. If it’s someone that you feel like you still need to forgive or seek forgiveness from.

Jill Simons:


That is what you should be doing in that relationship, not seeking feedback on the efficacy of your charisms because all of these other interpersonal things can negatively or or positively, kind of depends, color the feedback that we receive. So I find that kind of the optimal vantage point for someone to give and receive feedback from is people that are other members of your church community that have known you or seen you over months or years In settings where you were really volunteering or doing ministry or seeking to share God with them even if it was simply through conversation and interpersonal relationships. So we don’t want to disqualify someone who maybe has never volunteered in ministry before. That’s okay. That is what I find to be kind of optimum. That is not to say that you can’t get good feedback from other cases. Family members and spouses, children, parents can also, in some cases, be a great source of feedback. But, again, if there’s contention in the relationship, if there’s a lot of conflict,

Jill Simons:


if there’s a lot of struggle to communicate well, that is something that is really embedded in and symptomatic of the relationship, and it’s going to make it more challenging for people to be objective about where God is moving supernaturally in you or the other person. So you can evaluate for yourself. Is this someone who I have the kind of relationship with where their feedback is clear and valuable on those things. Also, even if you have a great relationship with a spouse or a parent or child or something, we also want to be aware if this is where they’re just going to affirm us no matter what we say. So, you know, it doesn’t matter if you’re discerning service or hospitality or leadership. No matter what you ask them about, they’re going to come up with a positive story about you just because they love you, and they want to affirm you. Encouragement could be one of their charisms that is getting a little bit misplaced in this specific situation. So we want to find people who have clarity without just trying to, either tear us down or build us up arbitrarily.

Jill Simons:


So hopefully, that doesn’t convolute things more. Hopefully, that’s clarifying to you. We want people who are really in that, category that are going to give us objective feedback. Also, feedback during discernment is different than feedback during commitment. So when you are first beginning to discern your charism, we want to take the feedback that we receive from people in that kind of optimal sphere very realistically and very, that’s not the word I’m looking for. Very, to heart. The word has escaped me, but we really want to internalize it. There we go.

Jill Simons:


We really want to internalize the feedback that they give us because that is information that the Holy Spirit is sharing with us to allow us to discern. Whereas, once you have discerned and committed to your charisms, we’re gonna put a little bit less stock into the regular feedback we receive simply because that can be a way that we can be tempted to get derailed. So perfect example, when I was discerning my leadership charism, I got a ton of positive feedback on my speaking, on my leading, on my vision casting, things like that. I went through the discernment process and decided to make that commitment to the charism of leadership. I have not received anything from the Holy Spirit in prayer, in experiences, anything else that makes me doubt the clarity of that call. But I do receive on a semi-regular basis pushback against my leadership in the form of negative feedback. And if there is something that I can do to improve, to communicate better, to, be more aware or inclusive in how I lead. I wanna take that feedback as me feedback.

Jill Simons:


That’s something that I can change or improve about how I I’m doing this. But when I get negative feedback on the fact that I’m leading at all, the fact that I’m speaking at all, that I shouldn’t be doing this. Those are things that I am able to categorize as resistance Instead of feedback, now that I am in the commitment phase, what would change this is if I started receiving something different from from the Lord about what I was supposed to be doing, which I have not. He has been clear and steady with me. Other people have started to vary more, and that is just part of the process of maturing, in my opinion, in our charisms and in our call to be able to put up with more of that negative feedback, resistance, etcetera. And so what I want to really caution against is going through the discernment process, making a commitment, and then somebody says something negative about how, you know, they didn’t actually feel welcomed when you who invited them to something or were seeking to use your charism of hospitality. We don’t want to let that instantaneously make us doubt everything that has gone before it. We don’t want to take that in a vacuum and say now that’s the most true thing, and that’s the only thing I’m gonna take into account.

Jill Simons:


Again, in a vacuum, we don’t wanna do that. This is the ongoing discernment of using your charisms. We want to look at how can we continue to personally grow and how can we continue to receive feedback while staying detached from what it is that we’re receiving as external feedback during the commitment phase. So there’s some nuance here. It’s a little bit complicated to talk about in abstract, which is why I hope that you are clearly following what I’m saying here. But when it’s concretized in an individual person’s experience, it’s a little bit easier to see kind of those lines between who’s good to receive feedback from during discernment, the role of feedback in discernment, then the shift that happens in commitment and how we receive feedback differently during the commitment phase. Because at the end of the day, people’s ability to receive your charism does not determine whether or not you have it. I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit really keeps things clean for us very many times during discernment, really streamlines the kind of feedback that we receive from those people that are close to him.

Jill Simons:


In commitment, I don’t think he meters that as much for us. Because part of us growing and maturing in that charism is to weather a few more storms, a few more complex situations, etcetera. Great example of this is with something like a healing Somebody might receive great feedback prior to discerning, during discernment. They’re seeing great things happen. They make a assessment. And then the first time after the commitment, they go to pray for someone’s healing, and their perception is that nothing happens. Maybe the physical ailment is not healed in its entirety. Maybe the person doesn’t have a positive experience receiving prayer for healing.

Jill Simons:


Accepting that, walking through that, journeying through that with the Lord, questioning that is a part of maturing in a healing charism. But that does not invalidate everything that’s come before. That doesn’t make you throw up your hands and say, I never actually had a healing charism. Forget this. I’m never trying again. That is the Holy Spirit helping you go to the next level, allowing you to face more of the adversity of that situation and giving you a greater opportunity to rely on him. This is very similar to what we have in our children as they grow, where we can really meter things for them when they are very young to build their confidence. But once they are maturing, Though we still know that they have the aptitude, we allow them to encounter more of their own adversity to really build that muscle, to be able to sustain that thing as an adult, to be able to do whatever it is at its most mature form in adulthood.

Jill Simons:


So that’s why we want to stay most closely in conversation with God all throughout this process because he is the one that’s always gonna be the true north. He’s always going to be giving us the right information. Even if we perceive that to be no information, we’re not hearing from him right now, that means stay the course. It’s one of the rules of discernment put out in Father Gallagher’s wonderful book, “The Spirit of Discernment”, that says don’t make decisions from a place of desolation. So if you are have well discerned your charisms, feel that you’re moving forward in it, but it seems like it’s not working now or you’re getting negative feedback. Don’t counteract. Don’t go back on your commitment from that desolation. Stay in partnership with God because his feedback is ultimately, always the most important feedback.

Jill Simons:


And if he’s not telling you to stop, in my experience, he’s telling you to stay the course. So just please keep these factors in mind as you seek feedback, as you receive feedback as you move forward in your commitment, remembering that we want to keep other people’s feedback in its proper place. And always, always, always be elevating God’s feedback to the primary place. God bless you. Thanks so much for joining us on today’s episode of Charisms for Catholics. If you would like to learn more about your charisms or begin your own discernment journey, head to our website at manypartsministries.com where you can download our free PDF guide to all 24 charisms and also begin your own journey by taking our charism assessment.