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The Romans 12 Gifts: Useful for Person-Job Fit

Author(s): Bruce E. Winston  
Issue: 2  
Volume: 2  
Year: 2009

The seven motivational gifts found in Romans 12—(a) perceiving, (b) serving, (c) teaching, (d) encouraging, (e) giving, (f) ruling, and (g) mercy—when viewed as a profile provide a base for person-job fit suitable for use with all people regardless of faith tradition. This paper argues that people have some combination of all gifts that is in contrast to the popular literature’s perspective of people having one or two gifts. When people are placed in jobs that fit their motivational gift profile people seem to be self-motivated to perform the requisite tasks. This paper recommends that future research examine gift profiles in specific jobs to see if there is a common profile for those people that are satisfied and motivated.

The purpose of this article is to present the seven motivational gifts from Romans 12:3-8 as a profile useful for fitting an individual to a job. Frederick Taylor made a claim that every worker was a “first-class” worker at something and that it is management’s job to determine what that job is.1 While Taylor did not describe the means by which management should do this, it is the premise of this article that it can be accomplished by fitting a person to a job that uses the individual’s profile of Romans 12 gifts. Wagner supports the notion of a profile of gifts: “I would suspect that probably the majority or perhaps all Christians have what we would call a Gift Mix, instead of a single gift.”2 This article presents an inner-texture analysis of the seven gifts along with Paul’s statement that God gives the gifts to all people, which by definition in the Greek anθrωpos (anthropos) includes non-Christians. This article then references research done to measure the gifts and show that non-Christians possess the gifts, as well as a cluster analysis to present potential profiles. The article concludes with a call for more research to confirm the profiles and application to person-job fit.

Stitinger helps us understand the profiles of the Romans 12 gifts in his use of the idea of the need for people to seek to understand their “giftedness” rather than their gift.3

I. Inner-Texture Analysis

Stitinger makes an important statement as preparation for conducting an inner-texture analysis:

Needless to say, opinion on the spiritual gifts—very little of which is based on sound biblical exegesis—varies widely. Positions are frequently motivated by experience or emotion, and fueled by logic-jumps. Scholarship often assumes its outcome by adopting hermeneutical principles consistent with a preconceived bias. Serious study of the Scriptures is necessary if one is to say only what the Scriptures say about spiritual gifts.4

Romans 12:3—“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith”5 —includes references to “everyone” (παντι) and “each” (ekastω). Ekastω implies “each,” “every,” or “all”—used 1,242 times in the New Testament of which 731 times the word is used for “all.” Ekastω,  in contrast, means “each man” or “every man” usually referencing the Greek anθrωpos (anthropos) rather than limited to the male gender—aνηρ (anir). This notion of all people having the gifts is in direct opposition to the idea that only Christians have these gifts and that Christians only receive the gifts at the time of conversion as espoused by Walvoord.6 In a like manner, the premise of this article is antagonistic to Engberg-Pedersen’s position that Paul was writing to an “in-group” and therefore the gifts are only applied to Christians.7 If Engberg-Pedersen is correct then the Romans 12 gifts only applied to the then-current members of the church in Rome. If this was the case, then Paul’s letter would have referred to specific people. There is nothing in the Greek that implies what Walvoord or Engberg-Pedersen espouse. Further to the issue of whether the gifts are for Christians or for all, is Jewett’s notion that Paul was speaking to all of the Christians gathered together from the house churches in Rome and, as such, according to Jewett, that the gifts were only for Christians.8 While it is logical to want to think that Christians have an advantage in the Romans 12 gifts, the text of Romans 12:1-8 simply does not support this. This logic is akin to saying that if I lecture the gifts to a group of MBA students then the gifts are only for those in business. Paul’s letter includes nothing that limits the gifts to only those in attendance at the hearing of his letter. Jewett does go on to say that the Greek implies that everyone has gifts9 which I believe supports the notion of multiple gifts and not just one gift as Newman and Nida claim.10

Bryant states that Paul in Romans 12 celebrates the “renewing power of God.” Bryant goes on to tie the Romans 12 gifts to Christ.11 Bryant does not show the textual support for this. If Bryant examined the 1 Corinthians 12 gifts he would see that Paul attributes those gifts to the Spirit (pneuma), and in Ephesians 4, Paul references the source of the gifts/offices as Christ (Χristoσ). In the Romans 12 gift passage Paul only refers to the grace of qeoσ (God). Of further interest to this present study, Bryant refers to the Romans 12 gifts as “spiritual” gifts yet Paul does not say this in Romans 12. Rather, Paul only refers to “gifts.”

Paul’s letter continues in 12:4—“for just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function”—and of particular importance to this article is Paul’s inclusion of πραξισ (praxis), which is used six times in the New Testament and refers to actions, deeds, functions, and practices. This ties specifically to the person-job fit focus of this article. Romans 12:5 continues the metaphor of body parts/members and the role of the gifts that Paul is about to present—“so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Paul’s use of “one (eiσ ) of another (αλληλων)” presents the metaphor of parts and whole as one of mutuality rather than individualistically, which continues the referent to person-job fit in that a goal of person-job fit is to create a workforce of different people each acting in mutuality for the completion of the organization’s tasks.12 Of interest it should be noted here that the Romans 12 gifts differ from the 1 Corinthian gifts in yet another way. Paul does not make claim in the letter to the Romans that there is a hierarchy of gifts or that one gift is better than another as he does in his letter to the Corinthian church when he places a sense of order and value to the gifts. Thus, the Romans 12 gifts should be seen as a collection of equally-valued gifts and that the orchestrated use of the gifts should be used to the greater benefit of the community.

Paul claims in 12:6, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith.” Of interest here to this article is that this ties back to 12:3 in that Paul references faith (pistεωσ), which is the same word used in 12:3 where Paul states that God (qeoσ) gives a measure of faith (pistεωσ) to each person. Although 12:6 begins the listing of seven gifts, Paul’s use of pistεωσ ties the gifts to the faith given by God, thus linking qeoσ to the gifts.


Popular press authors such as Bugbee, Kinghorn, McRae, and Wagner approach the spiritual gift πρoφητεια (propheteia) as meaning the same as the inference in 1 Corinthians 12.15 However, other popular press authors such as Gothard, Flynn, as well as Fortune and Fortune, define πρoφητεια differently in Romans 12 than in 1 Corinthians 12 due to the contextual differences of Paul’s two letters.16 This current study follows the definition of Gothard, Flynn, and Fortune and Fortune in that πρoφητεια refers to “the Spirit-given ability to proclaim the written word of God with clarity and to apply it to a particular situation with a view toward correction or edification.”17 According to Liddel and Scott’s Lexicon, πρoφητεια, specifically with the “iaν”suffix (as used in Romans 12:6) carries a connotation of interpretation in the form of revealing, manifesting, showing forth, making known, and divulging vital information.18 The motivational gift of perceiving in Romans 12 is the extraordinary ability to discern and proclaim truth. The secularized definition of perceiving could be the ability to quickly and accurately discern good and evil and the ability to reveal truth for understanding, correction, or edification.

A review of the scholarly research in both the ATLA and Pro-Quest Religious databases reveals a paucity of studies on the Romans 12 gifts. Most entries in the databases were brief book reviews in which the book referenced a gift. No study was found that looked at the gifts as they relate to person-job fit or, for that matter, any use in organizations. Thus, a contribution of this study is the examination of scripture as a useful tool for day-to-day organizational life. St. Thomas Aquinas in his work Truth: Volume 2, addresses prophecy, but Aquinas’s work seems to focus only on 1 Corinthians and how “knowing” aligns with or augments natural knowledge, what Aquinas relates to as “science.”19 Of interest in Aquinas’s text is that he implies that the spiritual gift of prophecy/perceiving may work in conjunction with natural knowledge and results in enhancing the understanding beyond the natural senses. This ties well to the use of πρoφητεια in organizations in that the spiritual gift may enhance one’s abilities to “see” and to “interpret” what the senses take in.

Of worthwhile note are the few scholarly works such as Jewett who claims that πρoφητεια during the first-century Roman setting included but was not limited to: (a) public declaration of revealed truth, (b) prediction of the future, (c) unsolicited advice, (d) exhortation, or (e) remonstration. Jewett goes on to make a particular point of noting Paul’s use of “analogy of faith” and posits that Paul is asking for a balance of logic and faith as two different elements weighted in a balance.20 While interviewing people who seemed to have a high level of this gift, DellaVecchio and Winston found these people to have a high level of faith and believe in what they perceived and a sense of comfort, or faith that what they said would be well received.21 We also found a decrease in the level of faith in self and in speaking the truth in the people who seemed to have a small amount of this gift.22 Bryan contributes to the understanding of the gifts but offers no specific definition of πρoφητεια (propheteia).23

Mounce, along with Newman and Nida as well as Newell, claim that πρoφητεια refers to “speaking for God,” however the Liddel and Scott Lexicon does not support this.24 There are derivitives of πρoφητεια that refer to speaking the message of God/gods or being the voice of the oracle but the specific use of πρoφητεια seems to focus more interpretation. Grayston and Malyimply that profhteia refers to “inspired utterances” that may tie with Jewett’s notion.25

Table 1. Other verses with the word πρoφητεια (propheteia)

1 Corinthians 12:10And to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues
1 Corinthians 13:2And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
1 Corinthians 14:6But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?
1 Corinthians 14:22So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe.
1 Thessalonians 5:20Do not despise prophetic utterances
1 Timothy 1:18This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight
1 Timothy 4:14Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery
2 Peter 1:20But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation
2 Peter 1:21For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God
Revelation 1:3Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Revelation 11:6These have the power to shut up the sky, in order that rain may not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
Revelation 19:10And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Revelation 22:7“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Revelation 22:10And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”
Revelation 22:18I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book.
Revelation 22:19And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book

A search of the other locations of πρoφητεια (propheteia) in the New Testament resulted in the data found in table 1. Matthew 13:14 seems to imply the same “perceiving” as presented in this article while the other contexts seem to be more about prophetic utterances than perceiving as defined above.


The Greek word for serving is διακoνια (diakonia), meaning to aid. It can be interpreted as the God-given ability to identify the unmet needs involved in a task and to make use of available resources to meet those needs and help accomplish the desired goals. This is not one-on-one or person-centered but task-oriented.26 The secularized definition of serving used in this article is the ability to elevate any need for another (without concern or desire for rank or recognition) that will help or free that person to work more effectively. To some extant this has a sense of altruism to it. Collins adds to the understanding in his declaration that διακoνια does not imply a position of low status for the one performing the service—rather, according to Collins, status is not related to this gift of service.27 This helps differentiate the notion of service from servitude or slavery. The “server” chooses to serve rather than is left with no option but to serve. Quenardel adds to our understanding of this gift in his interpretation of the rule of Saint Benedict where Quenardel posits that it is the process of reciprocal διακoνια that forms the base of “charity” in that one helps another as needed.28

Jewett posits that διακoνια in first-century Rome carried a general meaning of waiting on tables, running errands, being ready and available to help, but not that the term connoted menial or subservient tasks or that the person serving was seen as a slave/servant.29 Of interest regarding this reference to service, Paul focuses on the end result of the service when he wrote “ειτε διακoνιαν εν τη διακoνια” that shows the server measured by the service. DellaVecchio and Winston’s work produced statements about servers that showed the server’s interest in “doing” rather than talking, showing feelings through service, doing the work rather than delegating, and offering to give practical service to others.30 Newman and Nida confirm the notion of the practical nature of the service in their study and understanding of διακoνια.31

While Bryant purports that διακoνια probably included some form of leadership in the act of serving, he offers no support either from the Greek or from socio-cultural studies of probable actions during the first-century Roman culture.32 There is nothing in the Greek that implies leadership as we know it in the contemporary time, but also nothing to exclude it.

A search of the other locations of διακoνια in the New Testament resulted in the data found in table 2.

Table 2: Other verses with the word διακoνια (diakonia)

Luke 10:40But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to him, and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”
Acts 1:17“For he was counted among us, and received his portion in this ministry.”
Acts 1:25“ . . . to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.
Acts 6:1Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.
Acts 6:4“But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
Acts 11:29And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.
Acts 12:25And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, taking along with them John, who was also called Mark.
Acts 20:24“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
Acts 21:19And after he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
Romans 11:13But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,
Romans 15:31That I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints;
1 Corinthians 12:5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.
1 Corinthians 16:15Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints),
2 Corinthians 3:7But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was
2 Corinthians 3:8How shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?
2 Corinthians 3:9For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.
2 Corinthians 4:1Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart,
2 Corinthians 5:18Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,
2 Corinthians 6:3Giving no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited,
2 Corinthians 8:4Begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,
2 Corinthians 9:1For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints;
2 Corinthians 9:12For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.
2 Corinthians 9:13Because of the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all,
2 Corinthians 11:8I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to serve you
Ephesians 4:12For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
Colossians 4:17And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
1 Timothy 1:12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service;
Hebrews 1:14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?
Revelation 2:19“I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.”


The Greek word for teaching is διδασκων (didaskon), which means to instruct, clarify, elucidate, illuminate, simplify, and to illustrate for the sake of communication and understanding.33 The secularized definition of teaching used in this study is the extraordinary ability to discern, analyze, and deliver information and truth so that others will learn. Jewett makes an interesting point in that the phrase “διδασκων εn τη διδασκια” implies one who is teaching and does not, as such, refer to an “office” of teacher. Jewett goes on to show the contrast with other locations in works attributed to Paul in which we find διδασκωoσ.34 Jewitt includes in his evaluation of this the claim of both Rengstorf and Filson that Paul avoided the use of a term implying an “office” due to the then-accepted belief that all believers were teachers and that no one could be a successor to Jesus as the teacher.35 Jewitt downplays this thought in that there were established teachers of the faith in the first century and contents that it may as likely have been Paul’s intent to avoid exacerbating the leadership conflicts in Rome that he refers to elsewhere in the book.

There is a lack of agreement in the literature and to the meaning and intent not only as pointed between Jewitt, Rengstorf, and Filson but also in that Mounce states that the position of “teacher” in the first century was an honorable position and that the focus of the teaching was on moral issues.36 This seems to be in conflict to the use of διδασκων as a reference to “one who is teaching” rather than the position of the teacher.

Table 3: Other verses with the word διδασκων (didaskon)

Matthew 7:29. . . for he was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Matthew 9:35Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Matthew 26:55. . . Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize me
Romans 2:21You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal
Hebrews 5:12. . . you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food

A search of the other locations of διδασκων in the New Testament resulted in the data found in table 3.


Encouraging comes from the Greek word παρακαλων (parakalon). The word has two parts: one is “a call,” and the other is “companionship.” Together they mean to be with and for another.37 The secularized definition of exhortation used in this study is the ability to call forth the best in others through encouragement and motivation. The secular definition used in this paper is the God-given ability to minister words of comfort, consolation, encouragement, and counsel in such a way that others feel helped and healed.38 Jewitt points out the application of this concept in the then-Roman culture as a process by which people associated with certain philosophical communities came under political and social ridicule and attack by those outside of the community. Jewitt posits that there was a need for what he calls the “care of the soul” in which certain folk came along side of others to comfort, encourage, as well as incite the people to continue in their cause. According to Jewitt this probably tied back to the Jewish tradition of consolation through the books of Lamentations and Job, among others.39

It is interesting to note the use of “ειτε o παρακαλων εν τη παρακαλησει” (the one exhorting, in the exhortation) that implies that the measure of the gift is the resultant exhortation. In other words, the measure of the gift is in the result of the gift. It is not the doing that is important but the results that are important. Little seems to exist in the literature other than Jewitt to help understand this concept. Mounce simply says that “if teaching provides guidance for what people ought to do then encouragement helps them achieve it.”40 Bryan does not address the concept beyond mentioning it in the context of verse 7.41 Newell only admonishes those with this gift to be sure to walk the path that one calls others to walk.42

Table 4: Other verses with the word παρακαλων (parakalon)

Matthew 8:5And when he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, entreating him
Luke 3:18So with many other exhortations also he preached the gospel to the people
Acts 2:40And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”
Acts 15:32And Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.
Acts 16:40And they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.
Acts 20:1And after the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them, he departed to go to Macedonia.
2 Corinthians 1:4Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 7:6But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus;


The Greek word for giving is μετδιδoνσ (metadidous), meaning to turn over or to give over, share, or transfer. The definition of giving used in this study is the God-given ability to understand the material needs of others and then meet those needs the generously.43 It is worth noting the change in pattern that occurs with this gift in that past gifts show the measure in the doing or in the outcome, but here it is noted that measure is in the απλoτητι (aploteiti) simplicity of the giving. Liddell and Scott’s Lexicon defines μετδιδoνσ as “giving a part of or giving a share” and they define απλoτητι as frankness, sincerity, and liberality.44

Jewett infers that the word used here for giving most likely refers to the sharing of one’s personal resources for use in the love feasts typical of this time in Rome. Jewett adds that it is in this context that one might find a sense of liberality. The notion of sharing/giving, according to Jewett, most likely seems to focus on physical goods rather than ideas or teaching since there is no need to withhold ideas.45

Jewett adds insight into the use of απλoτητι by inferring that the word used here implies single-mindedness or integrity. This, according to Jewett, speaks of living a simple life and keeping what one needs and giving the rest away. This seems, then, to be in line with the Franciscan Third Order Regular rule of simplicity.46 Jewett posits that the term απλoτητι while meaning single-mindedness, integrity, and/or liberality does not translate into the use each of the three terms collectively, but rather, according to Jewett is best translated as “generousity.” Newman and Nida concur with Jewett that the term translates as either integrity/sincerity or in the general sense—generosity, but Newman and Nida do not go into detail as to the meaning or purpose of this gift.47

Newell differs a bit in that he proposes that the concept embodied by this gift is the giving/sharing of what one has with others in a manner that is neither in secret or with reluctance. He implies that this is similar to the 2 Corinthians 9:7 concept of a “cheerful giver.” Mounce concurs with Newell with regard to the gift implying a “cheerful giver.”48

Table 5: Other verses with the word μετδιδoνσ (metadidous)

Luke 3:11And he would answer and say to them, “Let the man who has two tunics share with him who has none; and let him who has food do likewise.”
Ephesians 4:28Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.


The Greek word for ruling is πρoισταμενoσ (proistamenos), which means, according to Riddell and Scott,49 to be put in front of or to placed as the head of; take a position of standing over one. Jewitt notes that πρoισταμενoσ is the passive participle and may have been specifically selected to denote either a collective leadership model or one in which people have asked someone to take the position of ruler.50 DellaVecchio and Winston define this gift as the God-given ability to set goals in accordance with God’s purpose for the future and to communicate these goals to others in a way that they harmoniously work together for the glory of God. rs n s ent of a51 Popular press authors Bryant, Fortune and Fortune, Flynn, Gothard, Kinghorn, and McRae confuse the gift of ruling ( πρoισταμενoσ) with the gift of administration/governance (κυβερνησεισ) in 1 Corinthians 12:28.52 Gangel contributes to the confusion by implying that administration and management are synonymous thus the two gifts are the same.53 However, the two terms πρoισταμενoσ and κυβερνησεισ are quite different in meaning a can be seen in Liddell and Scott’s definition of κυβερνησεισ to mean the government of cities.54 Additionally, it was sometimes used as a metaphor for piloting as in piloting boat. Jewett adds to the clarification by reminding us that in the Roman church there were selected people put in charge of local churches. Newman and Nida concur with Jewitt in that they interpret πρoισταμενoσ as “one who has authority,”55 while Mounce confuses the issue by interpreting πρoισταμενoσ as leadership.56 The confusion that Mounce adds here is that the modern day concept of leadership did exist in Roman context, but the notion of someone being placed in authority (followers are not needed as well as the notion of people placed in positions of governing cities, did exist.

The use of the measure for this gift in the method by which the gift is demonstrated—the diligence σπoυδη (spoudei)—is intriguing in that, according to Jewitt, during this time in the Roman culture aggressiveness and expediency were considered to be virtues.

Table 6: Other verses with the word πρoισταμενoσ (proistamenos)

1 Thessalonians
And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you
1 Timothy 3:4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.
1 Timothy 3:12Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.


The Greek word for mercy is ελεων (eleon) derived from ελεoσ, which means “have compassion on.” 57 The definition of mercy used in this study is the extraordinary ability to feel and to act upon genuine empathy for others who suffer distressing physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual pain.58 Luke 10:37 uses this term in describing the Good Samaritan as “one who does mercy.” Wagner adds to the understanding by defining the gift of mercy as the God-given ability to feel genuine empathy and compassion for individuals, both Christian and non-Christian, who suffer distressing physical, mental, or emotional problems and to translate that compassion into cheerfully done deeds.59

Jewett helps clarify the term by contrasting it with its opposite ανελεημoνασ from Romans 1:31 in which the “merciless” is considered to have a reprobate mind. Jewett goes further to explain that the act of showing mercy was common in the Roman first-century church and was honored through “free and authenticity” of the act. The measure of this gift is in its “cheerfulness” (ιλαρoτητι) that Jewett uses to tie the gift of mercy to the gift of giving by showing the relationship of cheerfulness to the LXX translation of Proverbs 22:8 about being a cheerful giver.60 Thus, Jewett blurs the distinction between mercy and giving and indicates that both occur at the same time. However, for the sake of clarity this paper separates the gift of giving from the gift of mercy. A search of the New Testament did not reveal other locations where ελεων (eleon) was used.

II. From Exegesis to Person-Job Fit

The prior section examined the seven Romans 12 motivational gifts through the lens of inner-texture by examining the meaning of the term and the probable intent of the term in the first-century Roman church. The meaning from the Greek and the secular definition used by DellaVecchio and Winston are summarized in table 7.61

GiftGreek meaningDellaVeccio and Winston
πρoφητεια (propheteia) (Perceiving)The extraordinary ability to discern and proclaim truthThe secularized definition of perceiving could be the ability to quickly and accurately discern good and evil and the ability to reveal truth for understanding, correction, or edification
διακoνια (diakonia) (Serving)To aid and can be interpreted as the God- given ability to identify the unmet needs involved in a task and to make use of available resources to meet those needs and help accomplish the desired goals. This is not one-on-one or person-centered but task-orientedThe ability to elevate any need for another (without concern or desire for rank or recognition) that will help or free that person to work more effectively
διδασκων (didaskon) (Teaching)To instruct, clarify, elucidate, illuminate, simplify, and to illustrate for the sake of communication and understandingThe extraordinary ability to discern, analyze, and deliver information and truth so that others will learn
παρακαλων (parakalon) (Encouraging)To be with and for anotherThe God-given ability to minister words of comfort, consolation, encouragement, and counsel in such a way that others feel helped and healed
μετδιδoνσ (metadidous) (Giving)To turn over or to give over, share, or transferThe ability to manage one’s resources of income, time, energy, and skills to exceed what is considered to be a reasonable standard for giving
πρoισταμενoσ (proistamenos) (Ruling)To be put in front of or to placed as the head of; take a position of standing over oneThe God-given ability to set goals in accordance with God’s purpose for the future and to communicate these goals to others in a way that they harmoniously work together for the glory of God
ελεων (eleon) (Mercy)Have compassion onThe extraordinary ability to feel and to act upon genuine empathy for others who suffer distressing physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual pain

III. Person-Job Fit

According to Sekiguchi, person-job fit can be defined as either the degree of match between the job demands and the person’s abilities or the desires of the person and the attributes of the job.62 It is in the latter description where the Romans 12 gifts fit in that the profile of the gifts becomes the desire of the person. Sekiguchi points out that a number of positive outcomes occur when the degree of person-job fit is high: (a) job satisfaction, (b) low stress, (c) high performance, (d) high attendance, and (e) high retention.

Saks and Ashforth point out that for much of the literature the focus on person-job fit has been from the view of the job or the organization and that there is a paucity of research done on person-job fit from the perspective of the person.63 This current exegetical study helps to lay a foundation for using the Romans 12 gifts as a “person-perspective” in person-job fit.

DellaVecchio and Winston posit that certain gift profiles would be “best/better” matches for certain jobs.64 McPherson tests this claim on a group of law enforcement officers and found that the officers with long tenure and high job satisfaction had a gift profile significantly different than the population that DellaVecchio and Winston tested.65 In addition, McPherson’s work found three clusters among the long-tenure, high-satisfaction officers that further supports the existence of a profile mix. According to McPherson:

The results of the cluster analysis indicate that three distinct clusters of Romans 12 motivational gifts could be identified. Cluster 1, or the “ruler” cluster, showed a profile of high level on the ruler scale and medium level for the rest of the six scales of motivational gifts. Cluster 2, or the “playing by the book” cluster, showed a profile of medium-level gifts on five (Encourager, Perceiver, Ruler, Server, and Teacher) scales and low level on the rest of the two (Mercy and Giver) scales. Cluster 3, or the “enabler” cluster, showed a profile of high level on four (Encourager, Perceiver, Ruler, and Server) of the seven scales and medium level for the rest of the three (Mercy, Giver, and Teacher) scales of motivational gifts.66

IV. Next Steps in Research

DellaVecchio and Winston’s seven scale instrument along with McPherson’s study of the gift profile of police officers are two excellent bases upon which to build the next steps in research. There is a need for many more studies such as McPherson’s in which specific groups of employees complete the Romans 12 gift test and we look for patterns of the gift profiles. This would require that participants are fully engaged and satisfied with their current jobs and perhaps asking for participation from professional organizations or from fraternal organizations. There is no limit of these studies since there are so many profiles that could be examined.

Studies are needed in which the Romans 12 gift test is used to screen candidates for jobs and then measure the “fit” compared to groups of people in which the Romans 12 gift test screen was not used for selection. Here again, there is no limit to the number of these studies since there are so many jobs and so many profiles. The more studies that are done the stronger the discriminate and content validity will be. Convergent validity could be determined if studies were done comparing/correlating scores on the Romans 12 gift test and Strong’s Vocational Interest Battery test.

Case studies could be done with participants who are deemed by self or others as exemplars of specific gifts. While this was done to a limited extent by DellaVecchio and Winston, more specific grounded theory studies could be conducted on each of the seven gifts. The grounded theory studies might contribute to our contemporary understanding of the gifts.

About the Author

Bruce E. Winston, Ph.D., serves as both dean and associate professor of leadership at Regent University’s School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship in Virginia Beach, VA. Dr. Winston teaches, trains, and consults in the areas of leadership and organizational development as well as university administration and strategic foresight. In addition, he has thirteen years of experience leading organizations in the commercial printing industry and seventeen years of experience leading academic units at Regent University. Dr. Winston has lectured and consulted in the United States as well as Canada, Europe, and South Africa. He also speaks and teaches in other areas including communication, quality improvement, and marketing. Email:bwinston@sway


1 Frederick W. Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management (New York: Harper, 1911).

2 C. Peter Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1979), 40. 3 James F. Stitzinger, “Spiritual Gifts: Definitions and Kinds,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 14, no. 2 (2003): 149-150.

4 Ibid., 149.


6 John F. Walvoord, “The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts,” Bibliotheca Sacra (April-June 1986): 109-122.

7 T. Engberg-Pedersen, “Paul’s Stoicizing Politics in Romans 12-13: The Role of 13:1-10 in the Argument,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 29, no. 2 (2006): 163-172.

8 Robert Jewett, (2007) Romans: A Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 738-740.

9 Ibid., 739.

10 Barclay E. Newman and Eugene A. Nida, A Translator’s Handbook for Paul’s Letter to the Romans (London: United Bible Society, 1973), 237.

11 R. A. Bryant, “Romans 12:1-8,” Interpretation (July 2004): 287-290.

12 Tomoki Sekiguchi, “Person-Organization Fit and Person-Job Fit in Employee Selection: A Review of the Literature,” Osaka Keidai Ronshu 54, no. 6 (2004): 179-196.

13 James F. Stitzinger. “Spiritual Gifts,” 150.

14 Archibald Macbride Hunter, Probing the New Testament (Richmond: Knox, 1971), 89.

15 Bruce L. Bugbee, Don Cousins, and Bill Hybels, Network Leader’s Guide (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994); Kenneth Cain Kinghorn, Gifts of the Spirit (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1976); William J. McRae, The Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976); C. Peter Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts.

16 Bill Gothard, How to Understand Spiritual Gifts (Oak Brook. IL: Institute in Basic Life Principles, 1986); Leslie Flynn, 19 Gifts of the Spirit (Colorado Springs: Chariot Visitor Publishing, 1974); Don Fortune and Katie Fortune, Discover Your God-Given Gifts (Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 1987).

17 Leslye Flynn, 19 Gifts of the Spirit, 61.

18 Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007).

19 Thomas Aquinas, Truth: Questions x-Xx, trans. James V. McGlynn (Indianapolis: S.J. Hackett, 1994), 2: 103, 109, 111, 126-129, 131, 355.

20 Jewett, Romans, 746-747.

21 Dorena DellaVecchio and Bruce Winston, “A Seven-Scale Instrument to Measure the Romans 12 Motivational Gifts and a Proposition that the Romans 12 gift Profiles Might Apply to Person-Job Fit Analysis” (working paper, Regent University’s School of Leadership Studies, Virginia Beach, VA, 2004).

22 For a more detailed study of the instrument and items please see the document at:

23 C. Bryan, A Preface to the Romans: Notes on the Epistle in its Literary and Cultural Setting (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2000), 198.

24 R. Mounce, The New American Commentary: Romans (New York: Broadman and Holman, 1995), 27: 234; Newman and Nida, A Translator’s Handbook, 237; William R. Newell, Romans Verse by Verse: A Classical Evangelical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1994), 464; Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon.

25 Kenneth Grayston, The Epistle to the Romans (Peterbouroug, UK: Epworth Press, 1997), 104; Eugene H. Maly, Romans (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1979), 99.

26 Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts.

27 John Collins, Diakonia: Reinterpreting the Ancient Sources (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990).

28 Olivier Quenardel, “Cistercian Diakonia,” Cistercian Studies Quarterly 41 (2006): 443-500.

29 Jewett, Romans, 747.

30 DellaVecchio and Winston, “A Seven-Scale Instrument,” 3.

31 Newman and Nida, A Translator’s Handbook, 237.

32 Charles V. Bryant, Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1991).

33 Bryant, Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts.

34 Jewett, Romans, 749.

35 Floyd V. Filson, “The Christian Teacher in the First Century,” Journal of Biblical Literature 60, no. 3 (1941): 317-3.

36 Robert H. Mounce, The New American Commentary, 235

37 Bryant, Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts.

38 Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts.

39 Jewett, Romans, 750.

40 Mounce, The New American Commentary, 235.

41 Bryan, A Preface to the Romans.

42 Newell, Romans Verse by Verse, 466.

43 Ibid.

44 Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon.

45 Jewett, Romans, 751.

46 Franciscan Friars, “About the Friars,” Franciscan Friars, TOR, aboutus.php

47 Newman and Nida, A Translator’s Handbook, 238.

48 Mounce, The New American Commentary, 235.

49 Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, 1482.

50 Jewett, Romans, 752.

51 DellaVecchio and Winston, “A Seven-Scale Instrument,” 4.

52 Bryant, Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts; Fortune and Fortune, Discover Your God-Given Gifts; Flynn, 19 Gifts of the Spirit; Gothard, How to Understand; Kinghorn, Gifts of the Spirit; McRae, The Dynamics.

53 Kenneth O. Gangel, Unwrap Your Spiritual Gifts (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983).

54 Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, 1004. J

55 Newman and Nida, A Translator’s Handbook, 238.

56 Mounce, The New American Commentary, 235.

57 Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, 532.

58 DellaVecchio and Winston, “A Seven-Scale Instrument,” 11.

59 Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts.

60 Jewett, Romans, 754.

61 DellaVecchio and Winston, “A Seven-Scale Instrument.”

62 Sekiguchi, “Person-Organization Fit.”

63 Alan M. Saks and Blake E. Ashforth, “A Longitudinal Investigation of the Relationships Between Job Information Sources, Applicants Perceptions of Fit and Work Outcomes,” Personnel Psychology 50, no. 2 (1997): 395-426.

64 DellaVecchio and Winston, “A Seven-Scale Instrument.”

65 Clarence E. McPherson, “A Consideration of the Relationship of the Romans 12 Motivational Gifts to Job Satisfaction and Person–Job Fit in Law Enforcement” (doctoral dissertation, Regent University, 2008).

66 McPherson, “A Consideration of the Relationship,” 47.Shortcode

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