“Diversities of Operations”

The apostle Paul introduces the gifts of the Spirit with three parallel statements:

  1. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.”
  2. “There are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.”
  3. “There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”

(1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

These three statements are even more similar in the original Greek:

  1. Diaireseis charismatōn (Διαιρέσεις χαρισμάτων) – Different kinds of gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4)
  2. diaireseis diakoniōn (διαιρέσεις διακονιῶν) – Different ways to serve (1 Corinthians 12:5)
  3. diaireseis energēmatōn (διαιρέσεις ἐνεργημάτων) – Different ways of getting things done (1 Corinthians 12:6)

Because we each have different gifts, we may do things differently from one another. Part of respecting one another’s gifts is respecting one another’s diverse approaches to tasks and to problem-solving.

Moroni prefaced his list of spiritual gifts in the final chapter of the Book of Mormon with a similar reminder:

Deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all.

Moroni 10:8

And in an 1831 revelation, the Lord taught the principle, with an important clarification:

And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.

And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.

Doctrine and Covenants 46:15-16, italics added

The phrases “according as the Lord will” and “whether they be of God” provide an important qualifier: Just because there is more than one way to serve and to work doesn’t mean that all ways are acceptable. We need to be accommodating of different approaches to serving, and we also need to ensure that our approach is in harmony with the will of God.

Last fall, Elder Quentin L. Cook reminded us that the Church of Jesus Christ can be “an oasis of unity” and can at the same time “celebrate diversity.” “Unity and diversity are not opposites,” he said. “We can achieve greater unity as we foster an atmosphere of inclusion and respect for diversity” (“Hearts Knit in Righteousness and Unity,” General Conference, October 2020).

Today, I will appreciate not only the different gifts of the people around me, but also their different approaches to getting things done. I will remember that there is often more than one way to accomplish a task, and I will be grateful for the “diversities of operations” among the members of my family, my team at work, and my congregation at church.

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