Stay Amazed: Unearthing the Gifts of Others: Don Everts
Family, friends, even our spouses: Can it be a case of familiarity breeds contempt? Author Don Everts discusses the power of staying amazed by your spouse and others—and cultivating a culture of honor and appreciation in your relationships. Don't miss this eye-opening conversation.
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Family, friends, spouses: Can they be a case of familiarity breeds contempt? Author Don Everts uncovers the power of staying amazed by your spouse & others.
Stay Amazed: Unearthing the Gifts of Others: Don Everts
Dave: So, I was thinking about something the other day: when we were dating, and got engaged, then got married, I remember you just celebrating my gifts and my abilities; just loving them when we were dating.
Ann: Oh, no! Where is this going?
Dave: Then we got married, and it wasn’t very long—[Laughter]—before somebody asked you, “What are Dave’s gifts?” And you were saying, “Uhh.” Six months ago, you had a list, and now you were like, “I don’t know if he has any.” [Laughter]
Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
Ann: Do you think that’s typical in marriage? We start to see the negative.
Dave: It was typical in our marriage!
Ann: Oh, that’s embarrassing!
Dave: Do you remember that though?
Ann: Totally! Yes.
Dave: I mean, what happened? Did I lose my gifts?
Ann: No, I think this can happen in marriage, where you still had all those gifts. Shame on me for, now, noticing your weaknesses.
Dave: Oh, I did the same thing!
Ann: We all do it.
Dave: Yes. We’re laughing, because every couple, in some ways—
Ann: We all do it because we start to think, “Oh, I didn’t see that before!” But it’s interesting, though, how we do that in marriage, with our kids, and in friendships; because everyone has a honeymoon phase. Even at work, there’s a honeymoon phase, like, “These people are amazing! This is unbelievable!”
Dave: And then. . .
Ann: And then! [Laughter] We all have weaknesses, and we all have shortcomings.
Dave: But we all have gifts.
Ann: We do!
Dave: And we’ve got Don Everts back in the studio to talk about gifts. Don, is this something that you’ve done in your own marriage?
Don: Oh, yes, absolutely! [Laughter] I was thinking, “Yes, familiarity breeds contempt” is a phrase. But it’s not that, exactly. It’s something like “familiarity breeds taking things for granted.”
Ann: That’s a good one.
Don: Maybe that’s what we do.
Don: Because we’re around it a lot. With my wife, Wendy, it’s like, “Of course she’s hospitable! She’s the queen of hospitality.” Then, you get used to that. It used to just startle me! And now, it’s like, “Well, yes, of course she’s incredible at that.”
Ann: You never got to the point of saying, “Why do we have to have these people in our house all the time?”
Don: Oh, totally! No, absolutely. [Laughter] Totally! I married an extrovert. I’m an introvert. So, yes, that’s a landscape we walk all the time! But yes, I think there are ways that, when you first meet someone or when you’re enthralled with someone, you’re just captivated—
Don: —by certain features. So, I think some of it, as we look at the research about giftings and look at what the Bible says about it—I think part of it—is, “How do I remain amazed by people?’
Don: How do we allow the Bible to give us better lenses through which to see the people around us, including our spouses.
Ann: Which would be interesting, too, because we, in the Church, would see one another—
Ann: —and call out the greatness, and see the masterpiece, that’s so attractive! Wouldn’t people want to be in those doors?
Dave: Well, it’s a magnet.
Dave: It would absolutely draw people in. I can remember, decades ago, watching a marriage talk by a guy named Gary Smalley.
Don: Oh, yes.
Dave: Do you know that name?
Don: Sure. Oh, yes, sure!
Dave: He’s no longer with us; he’s with the Lord. His son, Greg, now does ministry with Focus on the Family. Gary talked about the Hebrew root of the word honor. Have you ever heard this?
Dave: Fascinating! I’ve never forgotten it.
Don: Yes, yes.
Dave: He was just like—you know, we’re called to honor our father and mother, but we’re called to honor one another. We are honor people!
Dave: We should be known for honor. He said, “The root is the Hebrew word that means ‘to bow’ or ‘to bend the knee.’”
Dave: Then he said—his point was: you know, when you’re in the presence of somebody really valuable, it’s what you do.
Dave: In some countries, they will literally bow, but you know, we honor people, often not based on whether we like them or not, but based on their value.
Ann: Or their position.
Dave: Like when a judge walks in the courtroom, they say “the honorable judge.”
Dave: I might not even like the guy or gal, but he’s got a position of honor. He said, “What would it look like if, every time you’re around a person”—oh, and I remember he said this; he said: “When you honor people, you’re jaw drops.” He said, “That’s how we should approach our spouse and our kids.”
Dave: And your neighbor!
Don: That’s what Jesus did!
Don: Right? I mean, everyone said, “Get this leper out of here!” “Oh, get this old widow out of here.” And Jesus saw them. He saw the dignity that they were imbued with by their Creator.
Dave: One of our sons has a preaching gift. He calls them “God goggles.”
Don: Good! Yes.
Dave: He did a message once, and he said, “You put on the eyes of Jesus to see people the way Jesus saw them. If you see people the way Jesus saw them, you will treat them the way Jesus did.” And that’s how we have to see.
Dave: Imago Dei. We have to see the image of God in everyone.
Don: That’s it.
Ann: And I think—let’s just be super-practical—even in parenting, our kids can hit phases that [make it] difficult. [Laughter] It is difficult to like them at times!
Dave: The image of God has left the building!
Ann: But I remember saying to our boys at certain times, “I just need some time with you.” And do you know what it was? We were all giving off sparks; we were all pushing each other’s buttons.
Don: Yes, yes.
Ann: But there was something about just sitting down at a meal, and I could see them. It was like, “Oh, there you are.” I could see that, because I get so messed up in my own head. And then, I would say those things that I saw that God put in them. “Look at you!”
Ann: “Look at you.”
Don: And how powerful is that for them being formed, you know? Because you’re right, we’re managing households.
Don: I mean, families are busy, and you’ve got multiple kids.
Don: You’re just managing the household! Let alone to have time where you see one child and be able to reflect those things to them and build that into them. You know, “God loves you.” Not from just a bumper sticker perspective.
Ann: And not for what you do!
Don: Yes. “He loves you because He made you.”
Don: You know, “you’re amazing!” So, it’s been sobering for me to think about, as I’ve been in the research and in Scriptures, working on this book, how powerful it is to see people with God goggles.
Don: I haven’t thought of it in that phrase, but that’s perfect! [Laughter] I need to revise the book now.
Dave: You know, I always hated how I preach all this stuff, and nobody remembers it. My son gives a sermon: “Hey, God goggles!” I am thinking—
Don: “I said that twenty times!”
Dave: Yes, exactly.
Dave: What is interesting is, one of the themes of your book is everyone has a gift and gifts to share.
Dave: You know, one of the things that we’ve done with FamilyLife for 30-plus years is to speak at their Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway.
Dave: And one of the big ideas of that manual, that I had never heard before going to this conference—and we went to it as an engaged couple, two weeks before our wedding—
Honestly, we’ve said this many times, but we didn’t listen, because we thought, “We don’t need this.” [Laughter] You know, “we love each other and we love Jesus. We’re going into ministry!”
Don: That’s right.
Dave: And now, we teach it. But one of the big ideas is a critical point in marriage that I would love to hear your thoughts on. It’s really going back to the Garden story; the Garden of Eden, where, you know, Adam’s asleep and God fashions Eve. Then, God brings Eve to Adam. One of the questions we ask in the weekend is: nobody thinks about this, but at that moment in the Garden, there’s a question. The question is, “Will you receive Eve as my gift to you?”
Dave: Because God the Father is walking her, in a sense, down the aisle to Adam.
Dave: One of the points we try to make is that Adam, you know, receives her very excitedly: “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!”
Don: Yes, yes.
Dave: In the Hebrew, it’s exclamation! Here’s what he knew: God is bringing her to me, and God says she’s a gift.
Dave: He responded with such joy, not because he knew Eve, but because he really knew God. We lose that in our marriage! You know, it’s almost like, “Uh, God, could you take her back? Could you take him back? I thought he was going to be this—” [Laughter] We lose that sense of, “She’s a gift. He’s a gift.” They have gifts.
As you went through this research, is there something you’ve found people do that gets them excited to understand that they are a gift and gifted, and others are as well? Anything jump out that way?
Don: It’s interesting; a couple things come to mind. One of those is what we found out about discovering gifts and discovering giftedness. People need help doing that. We need other people to help us see gifts that we have. So, there’s something about relationship. Giftedness thrives in relationship and in community. So, one of the questions we asked people - and this was nationwide research; one of the questions we asked at the beginning was to rate yourself, on a giftedness scale, from one to ten. So, “how gifted would you say that you are?”
Ann: Oh, that’s fascinating!
Don: Really fascinating! There were some gender differences that came up; so, some fascinating things. One of the interesting findings was—and it was a small, but fascinating group: 3.5% of all people in the US—and they do their nerdy stuff, so we know this is kind of normed across regions and all this stuff; 3.5% of all people in the US—gave themselves a zero.
Don: Zero gifts. There were some things like, if you were in a lower socioeconomic status or if you were unemployed; there are some certain things that tended to correlate with that group. But here was the big finding: the big finding was how disconnected that group of people was when compared with the other 96.5%.
Ann: To other people?
Don: To other people. So, I’ve got this here: a larger portion of the “no gift” people (and, for the people at home, I’m putting that in air quotes), because everyone’s gifted, but they just perceive they have no gifts—
Don: A large portion of them had not been to church in the last six months. Almost half of the group said that they didn’t know any of their neighbors. They’re less likely to have ever worked on a community project. And they don’t feel that they have a sense of community in their life. Those are other questions we asked people. You can kind of cut the research and say, “Do these 3.5% ‘no gift’ people, have anything else in common with each other?” And what they have in common is that they’re disconnected from other humans.
Ann: And do you know what happens when we’re disconnected? As I’m wiping tears off, because that makes me so sad!
Ann: That people have zero. They feel like they have zero. When you’re alone and you’re isolated, what happens is you’re hearing the lies of the enemy.
Ann: The lies of our culture.
Dave: “You’re worthless.”
Ann: “You’re worthless.” The enemy is speaking death all the time! He came to “kill, steal, and destroy” our lives and our very well-being. So, when I hear that, it makes me so sad. For those of us who maybe didn’t put a zero, we have the ability to see someone else and tell them, “Oh, I see your gifts!”
Dave: So, you need other people in your life!
Don: You need other people.
Ann: So good!
Dave: To call it out.
Don: I think of my mom. Anywhere I go with my mom—a waiter, a waitress; it doesn’t matter where we are!—she stops, and she says, “You’re really good at what you do. Thank you for doing it.”
Dave: That’s my wife!
Don: Yes, Ann’s like that, too, right?
Don: When I was a kid, that embarrassed me. [Laughter]
Don: I was like, “Mom! We’re at the store. Don’t get into those conversations!”
Don: And I look at it differently now. You know what? I’m trying to do it more myself.
Don: I’m having my mom rub off on me, and I’m saying to people, “You’re really good at what you do. Thank you for doing that,” because we need other people, partially because of the enemy and what he’s saying, and then, partially, because our gifts get noticed by others.
Don: A lot of people don’t understand their gifts, because the things they’re gifted at come easily to them.
Ann: Oh, that’s a good point.
Don: And in the same way that we all assume everyone thinks the way we do (which leads to a lot of communication problems), we all assume people feel like we do. So, “It must be easy for everyone to do this. That’s not a gift. That’s easy!” It’s when we interact with other people, and they say, “Man, the way you encourage people!” You know, you hear that enough times, and you’re thinking, “Maybe not everyone has it come that easily to be encouraging. Maybe that’s a gift of mine. Maybe I need to take that more seriously. Am I being a full steward of that?” But that comes from having people point things out.
Ann: Should we log in our minds: “These are the things people have complimented me on,” you know? “These are the things I’ve heard over and over.”
Don: That’s part of it. So, in the “every gift” inventory that we’ve developed [see: everygift.org], part of the questioning comes to, “What do other people say to you? Do people look to you for these sorts of things?” That doesn’t tell you everything.
Don: But that is a really important data point. So, it is a significant part of what we do. We created a little workbook that goes with the book. It’s interesting, because it’s not just a workbook for “how to discover my gifts,” although we do that; but in all of the twelve gifts that we look at, for each of them, it’s like,” Let’s learn about the gift. Do you have the gift?” And then we spend a lot of time on: “Who in your life would you say has this gift? Write their name down.” And we have exercises: ‘What can you do to encourage that gift? To celebrate that gift?”
So, yes, commenting on things in other people and paying attention to what other people say to us—giftedness thrives more in a place of community.
Ann: Should we talk about those twelve gifts?”
Ann: Yes, let’s do that!
Dave: Yes, hit them.
Dave: You’ve got the wheel right there in front of you.
Don: I’ve got the wheel right here. So, again, these are based on—it’s sort of reverse-engineering—some of this nationwide research. These are all common gifts. So, these are all gifts that are common to every human being. We talked about that in our first time.
Ann: Right. It’s not necessarily a spiritual gift.
Don: They’re not spiritual gifts. Yes, these are—believers, non-believers, all have these. So, some of them are entrepreneurial gifts, starting things. Some people just naturally think about starting things. It’s intuitive to them! Management gifts, right? So, the ability to organize resources and people to reach an end. Some people have gifts in that! Some of us just have to learn it, you know?
Don: But some people are actually gifted at it. Financial gifts; critical thinking gifts; artistic gifts. You know, don’t just think of painting; but some people have a way with words. Some people have a way with music, you know? So, there are all these artistic gifts.
Ann: You have a daughter in art school.
Don: I do.
Ann: What kind of art?
Don: She does both painting and graphic design.
Ann: Did you see that since she was little?
Don: Yes, as a toddler, she was drawing all over her body. [Laughter] We were on a long road trip, and Wendy and I were just talking in the front. “I don’t know why the kids are quiet?” We were just enjoying having adult conversation for about three hours. You know, the kids were in the back, just in diapers, because it was hot, you know?
We pulled over, and my daughter’s entire body, except for her left arm—[Laughter]—
Dave: She’s left-handed!
Don: —was covered, not in scribbles, and she was a little toddler, but in these intricate, leafy, evenly-spaced designs all over her whole body, with this ballpoint pen that she had found. [Laughter]
Ann: And you said, “One day, honey, she’ll be in art school!”
Don: That’s it! And now she is. [Laughter]
Dave: I remember, I was with my mom, who was amazing at calling out gifts. Sort of like your mom, it sounds like.
Don: Yes, yes.
Dave: And we were at an aunt’s or something; I don’t know. I can see it right now. There was a piano—an upright piano. I must have been four or five. I go over, and I’m plucking away at something. The woman was a piano teacher, and she turned to my mom. I remember hearing her say this, “Your son has a gift. Do you know that?” She said, “What?” She said, “He’s playing a melody.” She said, “Have you ever been taught anything?” I said, “No, I just sat down.”
Dave: And my mom got me music lessons the next day. It was like somebody saw and identified. I can hear a song on the radio and tell you every chord that’s going on just by hearing it. I didn’t have any idea. I don’t think my mom did either.
Dave: That’s that person, seeing it and calling it.
Don: And sometimes it takes someone who’s not with you all the time. I mean, don’t you notice that as a parent?
Don: Sometimes, it takes someone else.
Don: Because you’re having to discipline the kid; you’re having to teach him not to walk into the road. You have to get them to get up to go to school or whatever.
Don: Sometimes, it’s someone else, with fresh eyes, who’s not having to manage their life and teach them to “adult,” who’s able to look with fresh, recreational eyes.
Dave: That’s good.
Don: And say, “Man, they are [blank]!”
Dave: Do you also need the person who says, “No, that isn’t your gift?” Like Simon Cowell? [Laughter] He’s sitting there saying, “You think you can sing. I know your parents told you you can. You actually can’t.” [Laughter] I mean, there’s a little balance to that as well.
Don: Totally! Yes, I’m not necessarily a fan of giving everyone a trophy no matter what, right?
Don: There’s something—I’ve had people who wanted to be hired as campus ministers, and I’d say, “Yeah, you’re not good at it. You don’t want to—”
Dave: And you want to know that! I’ve got to know what I’m not good at, too.
Don: Here’s part of what’s relevant about that: we tend to, in the church, lift up certain vocations over others.
Don: And we bias things toward certain vocations.
Dave: Oh, yes.
Don: I know we’re supposed to be listing the twelve gifts now. We do that! Pastors, we are the most guilty of this. We lift up vocations in the church. “Those are the only ones that matter. What does faithfulness look like? It looks like using your gifts in the church.”
Don: Generosity especially! [Laughter] That’s an important gift. There’s this guy who kept coming to me. He was in my InterVarsity group, right? I discipled him and raised him up. He said, “I want to come on staff.” I said, “Oh, nuts.” He was this gifted engineering student: critical thinking skills, and all that sort of thing; but no. He comes back a second time: “I really think you should hire me!” Three or four times, I had to say, “I’m not going to hire you! You’re not good at this. You are a good engineer! You’re gifted at that!”
But what we were working against was this kind of weird Christian bias we have toward certain vocations. And he needed me to lift up and celebrate him more. Some of it was on me! I needed to lift up and say, “God has given you critical thinking skills and engineering, technical skills to pursue the common good of your society and of your neighborhood and the people around you.” So, that’s a thing that comes up.
Don: How do we—? Sometimes, we need to be told “no,” because, “I just want to do what my hero does.”
Ann: Or we feel like it’s more spiritual to go into ministry.
Ann: If I love Jesus, surely, I’ll go into ministry; but your ministry can be in your workplace!
Don: That’s right. That’s a huge thing that Luther did during the Reformation.
Don: In the Middle Ages, the faithful vocation, if you had a calling, was a priest, a monk, or a nun. That’s it! And they recognized, “Well, we need milkmaids, and we need carpenters; but it’s kind of second-class Christians.”
Don: What Luther did was, he discovered a lot of what we’re looking at in this book. “What does the Bible say about gifts and about calling?” Luther wrote, at one point, “When a father changes a diaper, the angels celebrate.” [Laughter] There’s something about doing all the gifts that pursue the common good, and bless the neighbor, and bless industry and society, that we need to lift up. God is just as responsible for those gifts and honored by our using them in those other vocations as well.
Dave: Well, somebody has the gift of, “I can’t leave something unsettled,” and you’ve only hit like five of the twelve, so they’re literally saying, “Give me the other five or six!” And we only have a couple minutes. Can you do them in a minute or two?
Don: Let’s do it!
Dave: Just give a fly by.
Don: Speed round! We’re going to do a speed round.
So, there are also civic gifts, like the ability to work governmental systems; intercultural gifts; communication gifts, which I think are really obvious; leadership gifts; teamwork gifts, which is the ability to make a teamwork; technical gifts. Now, those are everything from playing a piano—that’s a technical gift, because you’re developing—it’s both artistic and technical; someone who’s good at coding; the people who are recording, and they’re going to cut and work on this piece that we’re doing. We’re using communication gifts; they’re using technical gifts.
Don: To produce the same thing; all in teamwork together. [There are] interpersonal gifts. So, those are the twelve, and you can see how each of them is also a bucket in which, really, there’s a big variety of gifts.
Shelby: Stick around, because Ann is going to talk about a practical idea to help us see and discover some of what we’re actually gifted at, and be able to encourage one another in our homes at the same time.
I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Don Everts on FamilyLife Today. You know, I love that Don went through all the different kinds of gifts there just a second ago, because the tendency is to look at someone else’s gift, and say, “I can’t do that,” and feel inferior in that process; or maybe, to examine your own gifts and feel superior to others. The point is that there’s tremendous variety in what God dishes out to all of us. We are just to be thankful for the gifts God has given us and applaud the gifts He has given to other people. It’s not about us! It’s about God! It's about Him and His glory! He’s going to glorify Himself through us in different ways.
Don has written a book called Discover Your Gifts: Celebrating How God Made You and Everyone You Know. In this book, you’ll discover how our gifts are a blessing to others and pave the way for reconnecting with our surrounding community.
Discover Your Gifts is our gift to you when you partner with us financially. You can go online to FamilyLifeToday.com or give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329; again, that number is 1-800-F as in “family,” L as in “life,” and then the word, “TODAY.”
Alright, here’s Ann. She’s going to talk about a practical idea you can use to help others in your family see what their giftings are.
Ann: I think this is just a great reminder. We so often, in the church and in our homes, and in the Body of Christ, focus in on spiritual gifts, which are really important.
Don: Yes, absolutely.
Ann: There are so many tests about spiritual gifts; but to look at common gifts, and to think, “What am I passionate about? What am I good at?” To start telling our neighbors and our friends; but especially, even tonight at the dinner table, to ask each other or to ask your kids: “Hey, you guys! Let’s talk about Mark tonight.”
Ann: “What do you think his gifts are?” I think that’s just a fun thing to do. We just celebrated our granddaughter’s eighth birthday, and we started this as a tradition, and now our kids are doing it, too, where on that birthday, everyone in the family acknowledges the gifts of their sibling.
Ann: And it’s one of the sweetest things! Back when our kids were kids, they were like, “Why are we doing this again!? We’re doing this?”
Dave: “Do we have to do it?” Yes.
Ann: But now, as a grandparent—
Dave: They’re doing it!
Ann: I’m weeping, because it’s such a gift to give. Especially because we take one another for granted in our households.
Dave: And I would just add this: I remember the first time Ann said, “Hey, it’s Dad’s birthday! Let’s go around.” I remember sitting there thinking, “No, let’s not.”
Don: Right, right.
Dave: “Seriously? Are we going to—?” [Laughter] And then, by the end—it didn’t take long, but by the end—of every son saying [something], and Ann, too, you’re sitting there saying, “Thank you. That really was a gift to me.”
Dave: Just to hear that.
Dave: Why do we stop it? Don’t stop it; invite it!
Don: It’s honoring.
Ann: It’s honoring, which is where we started.
Dave: “I’m in the presence of someone extremely valuable.”
Shelby: Now, coming up tomorrow, Don Everts is back with Dave and Ann Wilson to talk about how God calls us to use our gifts, even outside our “calling.” That’s tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us!
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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