This episode focuses on the topic of spiritual gifts, which is under the Timbre section of our “Marriage as a Love Song” series. We each identify our top two spiritual gifts, define those gifts, and give examples of how they play out in our marriage.

012: The Timbre of Marriage—Spiritual Gifts

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Truly Equal is a marriage podcast created by Kyle and Christi Playford. Our goal is to talk about marriage from a fresh perspective. We tell stories about our lives, talk about how marriage is like a love song, and give practical solutions to the problems we've encountered.

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The Timbre of Marriage

We've been working our way through the three sections of our "Marriage as Love Song" series: Rhythm, Timbre, and Melody. Last week we finished the Rhythm section, so today we are jumping into the Timbre section. Wikipedia defines timbre this way:

"In simple terms, timbre is what makes a particular musical sound have a different sound from another, even when they have the same pitch and loudness. For instance, it is the difference in sound between a guitar and a piano playing the same note at the same volume."

Therefore, this section will be all about the unique aspects each person brings to a marriage. In the Timbre section, we'll be covering the following topics: spiritual gifts, personality, and context. Instead of approaching this section from a gender perspective, we're trying to broaden the discussion and make sure everyone feels included. We believe there is a lot more to a human being than simply their gender. Our goal is to stop forcing people into boxes they don't fit.


Spiritual Gifts: Definitions

The lists of spiritual gifts recorded in the Bible never provide gender exclusive gifts (Romans 12, 1 Cor. 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4). All spiritual gifts are open to both genders equally. In marriage, both people bring their spiritual gifts to the table, and together they learn how to best use them. So how do you discover which spiritual gifts you have? There are probably many ways, but Kyle and I decided to take an online quiz to determine our spiritual gifts. The quiz we took was created and distributed by The United Methodist Church. You can find it here. This quiz includes the following twenty 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.

A note of caution when taking online quizzes: please take them with a grain of salt. If you don't think your results fit you, it's probably because they don't. Please don't try to fit yourself into a box. When you get your results, read all the definitions and decide which describe your strengths the best. Those are probably your spiritual gifts. Also, we'd recommend that you take the quiz with your spouse and discuss the results together. The following are what Kyle and I determined to be our top spiritual gifts and their definitions:


Discernment is a gift of deep intuition and insight. Discerning people can separate truth from fiction and know at a visceral level when people are being honest. Deeply sensitive and "tuned in," those with the gift of discernment are open to feelings, new ideas, and intuition as valid and credible information. Discernment is not irrational, but trans-rational—beyond empirical—knowledge.


The gift of shepherding is the gift of mentoring and providing spiritual guidance to others to help them develop in the discipleship and faith formation. Shepherds take an active and individualized interest in the life of faith of others. Shepherds share from their own faith journey to make the way easier for others. Shepherds are good at asking provocative questions, recommending appropriate resources and experiences, and helping people find their own way to the next level of their development.


The gift of wisdom allows people to understand deeper meaning and apply knowledge, beliefs, and experience to every day situations. Wise, gifted individuals make connections and help other make them as well—to understand the implications of our beliefs and actions. Those gifted with wisdom often understand root causes of disagreements, conflict, and barriers to growth and development. People with wisdom help others understand and clarify options to make good decisions.


The gift of exhortation is manifest in people who offer encouragement, wise counsel, unflagging support, and empowerment. Those who exhort stay focused on helping people maximize their own potential and live from their own gifts and skills. Exhorters help people feel good about themselves, build confidence, and not grow discouraged. Often, those with the gift of exhortation make others feel good just by being present.


Spiritual Gifts: Examples from Life

Regarding the gift of discernment, I'll often have a visceral response towards truth or honesty. For example, if Kyle and I disagree about something and he uses a hurtful or aggressive tone, I'll call him out on it and let him know that his tone hurt me. If he responds that he didn't mean his tone to come across like that, sometimes I'll know viscerally that something is off. So I'll counter him and tell him that maybe he did mean to use that tone. Maybe there's actually an underlying bitterness, anger, or jealousy that's causing him to use that particular tone. And usually after we talk about it for a while, we are able to discover the underlying cause. The other key part of discernment for me is that I've always been open to "feelings, new ideas, and intuition as valid and credible information." Unfortunately, the evangelical church that I grew up in didn't value those things. Instead they valued rational, objective truth. So whenever I would have conversations with pastors and try to include my feelings and experiences, they would discredit my thoughts and opinions.

Regarding the gift of wisdom, Kyle can easily identify "root causes of disagreements, conflict, and barriers to growth and development." For example, I'll often have trouble understanding why I'm thinking and feeling certain things. However, when Kyle and I talk through it, he'll usually be able to sort through what he sees happening and then he'll ask me questions to see if that's true. More often than not, he's able to drill down to the root cause. Kyle also has an uncanny ability to identify potential problems that could arise in our relationship before they even become a problem. Another aspect of the gift of wisdom that Kyle embodies is the ability to "make connections and help others make them as well." Kyle loves using analogies to help people relate to and understand more complicated (or abstract) ideas.

Regarding the gift of shepherding, I really relate to the part about "asking provocative questions" to help individuals grow in their faith. Whenever people come to me with things they're struggling with, I'll often ask a lot of difficult questions to help them think through their situation and discover their path to transformation. I also naturally share from my own experiences to try to help people in their personal faith journeys. And I'll often recommend books, movies, or T.V. shows to help people better understand a particular concept.

Regarding the gift of exhortation, Kyle resonates with helping "people feel good about themselves, build confidence, and not grow discouraged." For example, he'll often encourage me as I work on writing my first fantasy novel and give me the confidence I need to continue my work. When I get discouraged, he helps me stay focused and positive. Also, whenever Kyle is a part of a team game, he's usually the person telling others they're doing a good job and encouraging them to do better. 


Additional Resources

Spiritual Gifts Assessment — a quiz created by The United Methodist Church

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