Friday I was leading a discussion for my discussion group on Erik Erikson’s theory of Psychosocial Development (think book club, but not about books but rather about topics) and more specifically on generativity and finding meaning and identity and sense of power in adulthood. For those who don’t know Erikson’s theory, basically each stage from infancy to old age focuses on a pair of opposing emotional constructs and strengths are yielded from navigating this tension. Generativity vs. Stagnation, Erikson theorized, was the work of middle adulthood. It’s this time where your energy is focused on passing on and giving back. It usually takes on the form of having children, being involved in the world at large in our communities, work, etc. It’s yielding by-products are care and productivity. It’s about contributing and creating a legacy. Still, I think the concept of generativity goes even deeper. The root of the word generativity is generate. To me this period of life is about making stuff, yes babies, careers, PTA carnivals, soccer teams, but also more personal things.
So what about generativity from a spiritual standpoint? Yes we have callings, we serve, and this often gives us a sense of fulfillment in knowing we can contribute. But lately I have been thinking about talents and spiritual gifts as another part of our generative work. We tend to think of talents and gifts in these narrow bands. You know those obvious talents, those spiritual gifts outlined in Doctrine and Covenants. My dad is a patriarch and so we have had some great discussions on the variety of spiritual gifts, and the expansiveness and unlimitedness of them.If God is a God of endless variety, so to are talents and gifts.
I am a big believer in deliberately creating what we want in our lives, and well I was always a fan of the Easter egg hunt– something about amassing all those colorful eggs and opening them to find treasures inside. I remember always beating everyone else in the hunt because well I took my egg hunting very seriously, I was fast, I was thorough, I looked everywhere… and in the end I had one serious mound of eggs. I would beg for hunts year round, something about that seek and find element, and rewards, how I loved those little treasures inside. There is a certain seek and ye shall find element to the easter egg hunt. But so it is with the gifts, lately I have been trying to direct a little more energy to those pursuits. Realizing how many things are ours for the taking. I have always loved 1 Cor. 14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual [gifts], seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. So if you want in on the hunt here are few… well if only it was so easy as looking under couch cushions or behind bushes.
Discerning of spirits
Hard working (being)
Interpretation of tongues
Performance (dealing with arts)
Working of miracles
What gifts do you admire in others? What are some of the less common or often over looked ones? Any you are earnestly, zealously seeking?