Hunters, gatherers and __________.
I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. — 1 Timothy 1:5b-6
No one made it through a fourth-grade social studies class without learning about hunters and gatherers. I don’t need to explain this two very distinct yet interrelated groups because we all know who they were, and, more importantly, what they did. If, however, you were absent during fourth grade and missed this, or, if you’re seeking a four-word review, here it is: Hunters hunted. Gatherers gathered.
Sadly, we have forgotten another necessary contributor to this society—burners. Since we are midstride into summertime life, most of us have experienced at least one campfire or bonfire this season. As you begin to think about the burner, you’re like, “Aha! Will’s right! There’s this whole other job our history books have not downplayed. It’s the starter and keeper of the fire.”
Even today, every large or small band of people has a designated burner. Sadly, there is no ceremonial passing torch for this job, but somehow, by the grace of God, someone in every group has the skillset to make the sparks spark and the low-glow embers to do their necessary job, which is create the heat for our two essential food groups, hot dogs and smores.
This isn’t what Paul means when he writes about fanning into flames the spiritual gifts. Yet dear fourth grade graduates who may or may not have gone to school in the age of inclusivity, I want you to think about this fundamental truth: every hunter, gatherer and burner that ever walked the face of the earth has fanned the flames of someone else’s spiritual gifts. This isn’t a job for one. This is a job for all.
As it literally takes the village to raise the child, it literally takes everyone to contribute to defining and refining the spiritual gifts we each have. A gatherer can speak to a hunter’s spiritual gifts, of course. The reverse of this is true as well. Consider when a hunter extols the spiritual virtues and values to a fellow hunter. A great deal of meaning is expressed and received when someone with your specific skillset ignites your spiritual gifts.
Yes, spiritual leaders are also a part of a fourth grader’s lessons on primitive cultures. This job receives little more than a sentence or two in secular-based textbooks. As a spiritual leader to a tribe, I think this is not a full stop tragedy as long as we all realize each of us is called to fan the flames of the spiritual gifts we easily see and sometimes downplay in those closest to us.
PRAYER: Lord, poke us into remembering we can all burn and yearn for You. Help us teach each other about these spiritual gifts. Amen.