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The Spiritual Gift of Presence
“Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:13 NIV).
Spiritual gifts are something every Christian is given when they receive the gift of salvation. Just as the gift of salvation is by grace through faith, so are the spiritual gifts.
There are several different spiritual gifts. These gifts are not something we possess; they are God’s supernatural ability to act in our lives in various ways. There are ministry gifts, manifestation gifts, and motivational gifts.
According to Scripture, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. As a Methodist, my denomination recognizes the following as spiritual gifts: administration, apostleship, compassion, discernment, evangelism, exhortation, faith, giving, healing, helping, interpretation of tongues, knowledge, leadership, miracles, prophecy, servanthood, shepherding, teaching, tongues, and wisdom.
I think the spiritual gift of presence is often overlooked. It is not one of the seven that is directly mentioned in Scripture, nor is it specifically mentioned by my church. However, the Bible has several examples of the spiritual gift of presence.
One example comes from the book of Job. He was a prosperous man of great piety. Satan tested Job to determine if Job’s piety is merely rooted in his prosperity. Job suffered tremendous losses at the hands of the enemy (possessions, family, and finally his own health), but Job still refused to curse God. Job’s friends came to comfort him in his time of sorrow. When they finally arrived, Scriptures tells us that they, “sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:13). This is the spiritual gift of presence in action. It was not necessary for the friends to say the right thing or bring the right gift.
Paul traveled throughout the Mediterranean area. Most biblical scholars agree that Paul would have traveled over 10,000 miles – by foot! That would be equal to walking between New York and Los Angeles nearly four times! Several books of the Bible are based on his letters to the new church in various cities. Another example of presence comes from Paul’s letter to the new church in Rome. He wrote, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11-12). One thing is clear: giving the gift is tied to Paul’s visit. He is the conveyer, and recipient, of the gift because he understands the gift of presence, and it cannot, therefore, be given by letter or proxy. Paul also knows that we must be present to “greet each other with a holy kiss” (2 Corinthians 13:12).
In this post-pandemic world, people are more than ever hungry for human contact. When we show up and support our friends during their time of crisis, we are using our spiritual gift of presence and bearing one another’s burdens. In the book “Caring Enough to Hear and Be Heard: How to Hear and How to Be Heard in Equal Communication,” David W. Augsburger writes, “Being heard is as close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.” Be blessed as you are a blessing to others.
Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for all of the spiritual gifts that you have bestowed upon us. Help us to boldly and courageously use the gifts that you have equipped us with and to do the good deeds that you have prepared in advance for us. Amen.
Meet the Author
Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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