Recently a reader asked about how spiritual gifts fits in with being highly sensitive. I thought it was a very good question that perhaps many people have. So I turned it into a blog post! Here’s my take on the question…
People who are highly sensitive are also spiritually sensitive–spiritual sensitivity is just another manifestation of high sensitivity. If you are highly sensitive, you are sensitive across the spectrum of experience—to light, sound, touch (texture), taste and environmental things like heat, cold, pollen in the air, or smog and food sensitivities, chemicals, etc. Your high sensitivity is also what makes it possible for you to hear from God.
Being highly spiritually sensitive is not a Christian thing exclusively. There are highly sensitive people who are secular, atheists, and practitioners of other faiths as well. They tend to be the artists, poets, writers, the “religious,” witch doctors, shamans, etc. When these people come to know Jesus and are born again this sensitivity can be dedicated to The Most High and as you partner with Jesus to do Kingdom work, Holy Spirit guides you.The issue of “spiritual gifting” is a real problem for most highly sensitive Christian people. Being HS means you are generally very itelligent and highly creative as well as empathetic. So there are many things you can do, interests to pursue, and you are probably quite good at whatever you put your mind to. One caveat to that is how incredibly sensitive some Downs Syndrome and folks on the autistic spectrum are.
I admit to you that I had the same problem with figuring out where I fit and who I should be. People would say, “You should be a counselor,” “You should be a teacher,” “You should sing,” yatta, yatta! For a long time, my bottom line was, “If I did all the things I should do and all the things I could do, I would never do the things I want to do!”
The Lord finally came to my rescue. He told me that at times I will prophesy, at times counsel or teach, other times bear burdens, write, paint, do music, be a mom, grandmother, wife, etc. Other times the Lord and I will spin tales and weave yarns, but at all times I will be His friend. We don’t have to wear labels or feel we have to do one thing exclusive of all the others. He wants us to be fully developed—just like Jesus was.
In your job you may speak prophetically to a colleague…but you won’t do that everyday. At times you will need to discern spirits, so you will…when that is needed. There is that scripture in Romans 5:3-5 that says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” There are times when being highly spiritually sensitive can cause you to suffer. It may come as a result of bearing someone’s burden, your own internal angst over who you are and where you fit, or as discrimination or rejection in the work place. When that happens, it is no fun. But please, do not hate the way God made you. He smiled and said, “that’s good.”
As you see in the list of character traits above, one character trait is added to another. Fathers are admonished to teach their children line upon line. In other words, God wants us to build character a bit at a time. He wants us also to build spiritual character in the same way and to add relational skill sets, rounding out our personalities. So as we develop, God will gift us again and again. The more you work with God to mature and become skilled at hearing Him and prophesying then He will start working on another aspect—maybe training you to have razor sharp discernment. Then He will begin to work on developing another aspect without dropping any that you already have under your belt. There is also the passage in Hebrews 5:14 “who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” He expects us to put ourselves in positions to receive training. You need to practice each and every gift you have so you become good at it.
Don’t be disheartened or think that you have to have just one “gift.” Although, just as we are predominately right or left-handed, there will probably be one gift that will be dominant. Jesus had a whole fist full of spiritual gifts. We are to strive to have the full stature and character of Jesus. The “full stature” means that you will need more than just prophesy, or discernment. Spiritual sensitivity will lead you to develop the full potential of your design. One man I know tried on each one of the spiritual gifts for a whole month. Some of them he quickly learned were not his! This is one way to narrow down the list so that you can settle on what you need to learn and practice.
So, I would say that your calling first and foremost is probably to be a friend of God. You may exhibit any number of the spiritual gifts at any given time. He designed you with a highly sensitive nervous system. You take in more sensory data than most people—this is what allows you to sense the Holy Spirit’s guidance and tell the difference between good and evil. You sense what is going on in other people’s experience—that is to inform your intercession on their behalf. Some highly sensitive “Pre-Christian” people may use the information they gain about people’s vulnerability to control or manipulate them. God gave you that ability for purposes of burden bearing and intercession, for encouraging and building up the saints, not control and domination.
You will find that He places you in “assignments” where you will be able to either learn or hone a skill set or a spiritual gift. These assignments will change but there is something to learn, develop, or solidify–so I would just advise you to enjoy the journey and not be overly concerned about gifts. The enemy has a ploy to push you to do more, be more and drive you into burn out or to so focus you on one aspect of your walk with God that he can distract and trip you up. Just enjoy God’s presence and let that be your focus. Be the very best you, you can be. Along the way He will guide you to fully develop your potential and that will bring you a great sense of fulfillment.
If you would like to learn more about spiritual sensitivity from a Christian perspective, check out The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and its companion volume Highly Sensitive. Both are available from my website.
Hope this helps. Blessings, Carol Brown, shedding a little light!
P.S. The Wilderness, my next book, a devotional/memoir is with the publisher now. It is a memoir of my recovery journey after a major attack of multiple Sclerosis–I was catapulted into my wilderness. We are hoping to have it out in out in May. We will keep you posted.