By Doug Heck 

These gifts are listed in the letter to the Christians in Rome.  The passage states that each of these gifts are dealt to each person in differing measures of faith (verse 3).  That measure is a specific amount and type of faith that Our Heavenly Father apportions to all people throughout the earth, allotting these gifts as are necessary to fulfill his sovereign will on earth.  Each of us has gifts differing according to the grace given us by God in His unsearchable wisdom.

Romans 12:3-8

3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith [emphasis mine]. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us [emphasis mine], let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

These gifts are given to people, each person having one primary one.  That gift is put in us at conception, and determines the course of our lives, regardless of whether we become Christians or choose to reject Christ.  Psychologists term these differences in people as “basic temperaments”, or personality types.  Many have studied the soul of man in an attempt to categorize and understand the ways of man.  There are many types of lifts, and assessment tests to help determine what each of us might be.

Father God installs these gifts in us to fulfill His plan of redemption on the earth.  When we understand our gifts and function in it under guidance of the Holy Spirit, there is a redemptive result for mankind.  Good comes when you operate in these gifts.  Good not only for you, but also for the many around you.   They are designed not for you, but for you to be a part of a large whole, functioning as a body part.

            Let us look at each of them.  After the description of the gift, I will use it in an ongoing example showing how they differ from one another, and in a practical application how that gift would cause a person to respond.  This situation will be each of these different people visiting someone sick in a hospital.  Each will respond differently, according to their varied natural gift. You will understand more fully as we continue.

A.  Prophet

This temperament quickly and accurately identifies good and evil, hating the evil.  They see everything as black or white with no gray or indefinite areas.  They are eager to see their own blind spots and keen to help others see theirs also, tending to being introspective.  They desire above all else to see God’s plan worked out in all situations.  Their downside is that they forget to praise partial progress due to goal consciousness.  They often struggle with self-image issues.


Katie Fortunecalls this gift the gift of perceiver to differentiate it from the office in a church called prophet, which is quite another thing, and we will deal with that in the next chapter.  The term perceiver is not Biblical, but does serve to well to differentiate this concept from the other.

            Biblical examples of this is John the Baptist (Matthew 21:32); Hosea; and Ananias (Acts 9:10-17).  In the case of John the Baptist, we see a man who preaching repentance of sins, and courageous to challenge even the King as necessary.  His main fervor was to prepare the way for the Messiah, helping people to understand its imminence.

            When a prophet visits someone in the hospital, it looks like this.  They will come to the person’s bed and with compassion yet a certain sternness, proceed to quote scriptures of truth regarding healing.  “You should not be here.  This is not right!”   They might ask, “Is there something you did, a blind spot, that might have allowed this to happen?”

You will see that this nature is very different than the next one.



B.  Servant

This temperament easily recognizes practical needs and is quick to meet them, especially enjoying manual projects, jobs and functions. They are usually more interested in meeting the needs of another rather than long range goals, and may become pushy or interfering in eagerness to help.  They need to feel appreciated.


            Biblical examples are Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus (John 11:1-40); Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt 8:14-15); and Esther.  It was Esther you willing risked her own life and position that she might serve to save her people.  It was Mordecai, uncle, who taught her administrative skills that fit her to be a Queen.


            When the servant gifted person enters the hospital room, they immediately start to fluff the pillows, tidy things up a bit, and ask, “Is there anything that I can do for you?”  Their intent is to assist in this critical time of need.  They will take a piece of paper out; ask for things that they can do at the ailing person’s home for them.  They thrive on the fact there is clear need.



C.  Teacher

This temperament present truth in a logical, systematic manner, enjoying word studies and reading.  They are concerned that truth be established in every situation.  They have strong convictions of facts, and can tend to neglect the practical application.  They are self-disciplined, and usually only has a close circle of fiends. They can tend to be dogmatic and legalistic.


            Biblical examples of this trait are Aquilla and Priscilla who taught the great scholar Apollos (Acts 18:1-4; 24-26) a more full understanding of the gospel of Jesus, and Thomas (John 20:24-28) who needed empirical data to believe that it truly was Jesus standing in front of him – he must touch His side.


John 20:24-26

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."


Many Bible preachers make Thomas out to be a doubter because he asked questions.  He could not help it.  It was part of his God-given nature of teacher. It was the way he was wired by God.  Jesus was very gracious with Thomas, knowing his temperament, and offered to allow Thomas to touch the scars of his crucifixion.

            When the teacher-natured person visits the ill person in the hospital, they walk up to the bed and begin to ask questions like: “What did the doctor say was wrong?  Did you get a second opinion on the diagnosis?”  What they desire is information, so that they can add their assessment.  They love good conversation, and find it all fascinating.




D.  Exhorter

This temperament loves to encourage others to live victoriously.  They want a visible response when they are speaking, teaching or preaching to others.  They far prefer to apply truth rather than research it.  For them, truth is God’s source of true encouragement, and we must get it into the hands of everyone.  They are very quick to accept other people as they are without judging them.  They want to clear up problems with others quickly.  They often interrupt others in an eagerness to give opinions or advice.  They tend to be “cut and dried” in prescribing steps of action.



            Biblical examples of this personality are Aaron (Exodus) who stood beside Moses and acted as priest on behalf of the children of Israel, and Barnabas (Acts 4:36; 11:22-24).  Barnabas is a clear picture, since his name even means “encouragement”.  This he demonstrates by the show of his passion to stand by and under gird young John –Mark when he failed Paul and Barnabas in their first missionary journey.   He even allowed the Paul-Barnabas team to split up over his insistence upon encouraging Mark.  As a result, he took Mark down to Jerusalem and introduced him to Peter and some of the other leaders.  Over the years, his encouragement paid off.  Mark went on to write Peter’s account of the life of Jesus, and even Paul later specifically asked for Mark’s assistance.  Barnabas’ ministry of exhortation to Mark bore fruit.


            When the exhorter visits the hospital patient, they begin by telling stories that might cheer the person up.  Everything that the patient says, reminds the exhorter of another story, and both laugh the time away.  The exhorter will come equipped with scripture and often messages from other people.  He has tendency to insist that the person feels better right away, not wants this problem to persist.


E.  Giver

The temperament of giver freely gives of money, possessions, time, energy and love.  They love to give without other people knowing about it.  They want to feel they are a part of the ministry to which they are contributing, and handle their finances with wisdom and frugality.  They tend to be very industrious and are often successful.  Hospitality is one of their hallmarks.  They may try to control how contributions are being used.  They may upset family and friends with unpredictable patterns of giving.


            Biblical examples of this are Dorcus (Acts 9:36-42); Cornelius (Acts 10:1-31); and Lydia (Acts 16:14,15).


Acts 16:14-15

14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us [emphasis mine].


When the give visits the infirmed in the hospital, they always come bearing a gift to encourage.  It is usually something thoughtful, showing time has gone into its planning, presentation and timing of delivery.  They desire for the patient to be reminded in a tangible way that they are loved.


F.  Ruler

This temperament, or gift, is highly motivated to organize that for which he is responsible.  They can express ideas and organization in ways that are easily understood.  They prefer to be under authority, in order to have authority.   They love to work on long-range goals and projects – they are visionary with a broad perspective.  In time, they can develop callousness due to being the target for criticism.  They tend to drive themselves that can easily lead to neglect of personal and family needs.


            Biblical examples of this gift in people are Joseph (Genesis 30-40); Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1-7); and King David (1 Samuel 16-31).  We see David early in his life caring for his father’s sheep, protecting them well.  When opportunity came for him to see another predator attacking God’s sheep, Israel, in the form of Goliath, he naturally moved to protect and deal with the giant.  He organized the outcasts together into an army, and eventually, he organized a nation, both militarily and in worship.


            When the leader trait visits the hospital, they take out a pad of paper and proceed to inquire of what may need done at the patient’s home and family life.  They will say, “I will get some people to take over your responsibilities while you are here in the hospital.”  They will check on the insurance of the patient, the doctors advice, and how all the pieces must fit together in the next weeks of the persons life.  By the time the leader leaves, there is a clear plan for the next season of the patient’s life.



G.  Gift of Mercy

This temperament had tremendous capacity to show love, always looking for the good in other people.  They are attracted to people who are hurting or in distress.  They take care with words and actions to avoid hurting others.  They try to avoid conflicts and confrontations. They tend to be indecisive, and are often prone to take up another person’s offence.


            Biblical examples of this are John the disciple of Jesus; Ruth (book of Ruth);Rachel (Genesis 29-31); and  Joseph, the father of Jesus (Matthew 1:16-24; 2:13).  In the case of Joseph, you see great compassion toward Mary, his betrothed, who is now pregnant with the Son of God.  This is extravagant grace on the part of Joseph to continue to embrace her, and not shame her or hurt her in any way.


            When the person with this dominant trait walks into the hospital, they begin to softly weep with compassion, seeing their loved one in such a state. They will come close and comfort them, wiping their forehead and speaking soft words of sympathy.  They will stay endless hours to keep the patient company, supporting in any way possible.


Table 10


Word Studies of the Seven Redemptive Gifts




Strong’s number

Literal meaning



propheteia    4394

tell forth

not perceiver only



diakonia       1249

server; attendant

root of deacon



didasko        1321

teacher; master




parakaleo     3970

to call near

one name used of the Holy Spirit


metadidomi  3330

to give over




proistemi      4291

to stand before; rule

not administration




eleeo             1653

have mercy; (active)





[i] Katie & Don Fortune, Discover Your God- Given Gifts, (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Chosen Books Publisher, 1987)