Years ago, I was having lunch with one of my mentors and he began talking of the concept of Gift Transference. Paul mentioned how much he hated when people did it to him, but despised it even more when he did it to others. He explained what it was, but I confess I didn’t truly understand it for awhile. I don’t think I grasped its nature until someone did it to me, and then I realized how much I laid it on others.
So what is gift transference? Simply, it is the act of assuming that others should desire all the gifts and callings of God that we possess. In addition, it is the tendency to believe that our own ministry and burdens should be of primary importance to everyone. By this definition, Gift Transference is temporary self-absorption. With some people, it becomes permanent. Like most manifestations of self-absorbed Pride, Gift Transference is so hard to see in ourselves and incredibly annoying when we encounter it in others.
For me, the learning process started with a revival. I don’t mean “revival meetings” where we announce to the world on a bumper sticker or a mailer that God is going to show up on particular dates and at a place of our choosing. I mean real revival, where God shows up wherever He feels like it, whenever He desires, and turns the Church upside down. Usually in revival there is a lot of repentance, miracles, signs and wonders and a lot of God’s Presence. This revival turned my world inside out and I had to rethink everything I knew about God’s Power and Presence. It may sound strange to say, but after 18 months of revival going on in our town (a time when over 400 people became Christians in our congregation alone) I actually began to get used to God’s Presence and manifestations of power. I don’t mean that I took God for granted as much as I stopped shaking every time I felt God.
During the end of that season, I moved my focus away from evangelism and power back to Counseling and Pastoring. After all, these are the callings God has laid on my shoulders. I stopped focusing on revival every day of the week and got back to the more mundane, but necessary, aspects of leading the Church. During that season, those who wanted to see God’s revival power touch even more people began to reach out to other communities and congregations with the message of holiness and renewal. I had no problem whatsoever with that. But then they began to chastise me because I didn’t want to go with them everywhere to minister God’s power. They accused me of quenching the Spirit of God. They were annoyed that I would “play church” while God was doing something tremendously important. In short, they could not see anything beyond revival. Revival and its fruit were all that mattered to them, and anyone who could not see this was “out of touch with God”.
I admit, it hurt deeply and I consciously stopped associating with the people who did this. I even acted as if revival didn’t matter any longer. Of course, that isn’t true; revival means as much to me now as it ever did. But I was reacting to Gift Transference and the implication that I was out of touch with God because I didn’t go along with their viewpoint. I stopped trusting anyone who talked about revival, I deliberately ignored things that were going on around the country which hinted at more revival and avoided preaching on topics that might lead to a human-inspired repetition of the things we had experienced during days of God’s Power. It was a wrong reaction and I have since re-embraced what God did during those days. But I didn’t forget that ugly feeling I had when certain people laid their schtick on me.
I only wish I had never done that to anyone else. But lately God has fastened my gaze on the many formats in which I have used my Pride to practice Gift Transference. I have employed it with beliefs about: Cell Church, Full Gospel teachings, Hearing God’s voice, Prayer and Intercession and most lately, the Unity of the church. It is not just that I have a burden for each of these foci. There is nothing wrong with that. But I find that I can look at anyone who does not feel as burdened as I am as out of touch with God in that area. I see a disease that creeps in my heart when I do that: an attitude of superiority that relegates other people to the place where I heap scorn. I do. I scorn people in my heart who will not or cannot see the burden I see.
What happens when I do that? God drifts away from being involved in my thoughts and stops giving me input in my burdens. Therefore, I have to carry the burden alone and it no longer feels like a light burden. Believe me, it is not worth it.
Search your own heart. Where do you practice Gift Transference? Is it with parenting, marriage, your job, your ministry, your burdens, your theology, with money, with computer ability, with politics? Notice the creep of attitude sickness?