What Are “Gifts and Callings of God?”

Near the end of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni provides a mini-handbook for how to administer the church. Among other things, he explains how priesthood authority is given, how to bless the sacrament, and how to conduct church meetings.

In his discussion of priesthood authority, he uses the phrase “gifts and callings:”

And after this manner did they ordain priests and teachers, according to the gifts and callings of God unto men; and they ordained them by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was in them (Moroni 3:4).

What did he mean by “gifts and callings?”

Paul uses a similar phrase in his epistle to the Romans. Explaining to non-Jewish members of the church that God continues to honor His relationship with the children of Israel, he says, “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29).

The Greek word for “gifts” in this passage is charismata (χαρίσματα). It is the plural form of charisma (χάρισμα), which means a free gift or a gift of grace. It is the same word used to describe spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12.

The word “calling” is a translation of the word klesis (κλῆσις), which means invitation or summons. God calls on us to do something, and we choose whether to accept and act on that invitation or not.

So Paul’s message to the Romans is that God has not withdrawn either the invitation (the calling) or the promised blessings (the gifts) from the descendants of Israel.

As Moroni points out above, people who are given responsibilities in the church are given gifts and callings by God. We commonly refer to a position of responsibility at church as a “calling.” It may actually consist of many callings—invitations to serve others in personalized ways—and gifts—capabilities which empower us to serve others better than we could on our own.

Today, I will strive to be aware of the gifts and the callings that God has given me. I will strive to understand what He is both inviting me and empowering me to do on behalf of other people.

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