The Surprising Charisms of the Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit by Art4GloryOfGod by Sharon (Flickr)

What are your spiritual gifts? Has the Holy Spirit ever surprised you with the grace to serve in a way you never imagined? Or taken your natural talent and empowered you to use it to honor God?

For me, writing was always about personal fulfillment, if not fame. The Holy Spirit transformed my desires, helping me surrender that natural talent to the Lord. My inherited talent became a charism dedicated to building up the Body of Christ for the glory of God. The charism of writing “empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s creativity by using words to create works of truth and beauty that reflect the fullness of human experience and bring glory to God.” A magnificent mission!

My score on the charisms of the Holy Spirit

The change happened after I filled out a questionnaire revealing my charisms of the Holy Spirit. My spiritual life flourished, directing my natural talents more outward than inward.

Other gifts of mine teetered on the line between “mine” and “God’s.” My gift of administration, defined as “providing the planning and coordination needed to accomplish good things,” was not exclusively directed outward. I could accept the grace to seek the good of everyone involved in a ministry or project. At other times, I could just as easily use this gift to get my way without consulting or honoring God.

I scored high on discernment, the ability to sense the spiritual struggles of others. But my low score on mercy equaled a judgmental Christian, without the impetus for “practical acts of compassion to relieve their distress.”

Developing new charisms

The Lord develops new charisms to enhance the ones we have. I seek the charism of wisdom, that is, remarkable insight and creative solutions, to ensure my writing conveys God’s love effectively and consistently. The Holy Spirit surprises me with illuminating perception far beyond my ideas. I wrote about this in Holy Spirit Sandwich.

Many of our charisms complement those of others when we tag-team our strengths and weaknesses. When the remodeling of the parish classrooms took longer than expected, our religious education teachers taught home classes. I’m not a teacher. I gift I do have is the gift of hospitality, which “empowers a Christian to be a generous channel of God’s love by warmly welcoming and caring for those in need of food, shelter, and friendship.” A willing teacher without a place to teach came to our home and taught the teens, including mine. I set out refreshments every week instead of driving a carpool. Much more fun.

Encouragement and  intercessory prayer

Those with the charism of encouragement, which “empowers a Christian to be an effective channel of God’s love–nurturing others through his or her presence and words of comfort, encouragement, and counsel,” need to support those in pastoral ministry trying to build Christian community.

The gift of intercessory prayer, which “empowers the intense prayer of a Christian for others to be the means by with God’s love and deliverance reaches those in need,” is essential to back up every other ministry, especially missionaries and those with charisms of healing and celibacy.

Do whatever it takes

When the charismatic evangelist teams up with an on-fire music ministry to present a new discipleship program to the parishioners, the synergy is dynamic. Yet a healing mass needs soft music to undergird the prayers of those with the charism of healing.

Those with the charism of service, defined as “personally doing whatever it takes to solve the problem and meet the need,” are essential to leadership. They are the ones God chooses to direct the overall efforts of a group to make the vision of a better future a reality. Servants and leaders roll up their sleeves and work together to serve the Lord.

How can the Holy Spirit transform your natural talents into charisms? Give you new ways to honor him? Pray for the answer only you can hear. He may surprise you.

(© 2017 Nancy H C Ward)

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About Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward is a journalist, author, and speaker who blogs about Catholicism, her conversion, and Christian community at,
 7 websites and 7 magazines. She loves to share her faith story and help others share theirs through her Sharing Your Faith Stories seminars, also available on DVD. She contributed four chapters to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. She facilitates the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and a critique group for the Catholic Writers Guild, where she serves as a board member.

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5 Responses to The Surprising Charisms of the Holy Spirit

  1. Pingback: Member Blog Round-Up | The Catholic Writers Guild

  2. Don Mulcare says:

    Thank you Nancy!

    I’m fascinated by the idea that the Holy Spirit directs our writing and that writing is a vocation in which we cooperate with God’s loving outreach to everyone we meet through personal contact or the written word.

    You comment: “For me, writing was about personal fulfillment, if not fame.” rings bells. Fame in this world, along with riches, beauty, power and health, all fade. We are our immortal souls, operating in a fragile, often self-serving body, that we mistakenly identify as ourselves. It’s difficult to let go of this mortal existence and the materialistic world that presses upon us. We can’t easily grasp that we exist only for that eternal, spiritual reality, our post-metamorphic selves united with God.

    Thank you!

    One worldly post script… Is your orange and yellow design at the top of your page a product of alcohol ink design?

    God bless,


    • Nancy Ward says:

      Don, you comments are so right on! We are our immortal souls in a fragile body. But we get glimpses of heaven that keep us going to our eternal goal.

      The orange and yellow design, which I got off the internet for this one post, is an abstract impression of the Holy Spirit and well may be the result of some alcohol!

  3. Diane says:

    Thank you Nancy for this article and the references to other helpful tips. I love your Holy Spirit sandwich analogy because I find myself in those sometimes too. I will pray for God’s help in identifying my talents and transforming them into charisms. Your writing is a blessing to me.

    • Nancy Ward says:

      Thanks, Diane. Staying alert to the promptings of the Holy Spirit is the best attitude toward writing or anything we do. You are a good writer and we will be featuring another of your columns soon!

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