"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." 1 Corinthians 12:7

Perspective is an interesting thing. Our personal backgrounds, experiences, knowledge, or current circumstances can all impact how we view an idea or situation and cause us to see it in a different way than others.

Just ask any police officer! He will tell you how ten eyewitnesses can yield eleven different accounts. One saw the gunman wearing a red shirt. Three are positive it was green. The rest aren't sure if he was wearing a shirt. Seven of them think he had brown hair, while two think his hair might have been blond. One thought he was bald, but later admits the sun was shining in his eyes. Five of them saw the gun as a huge sawed-off rifle. Three thought it was a small, hand-held gun, and two of them didn't see a gun at all. One isn't sure, but she thinks the gunman might have been a woman.

"For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit..." 1 Corinthians 12:8

What makes people who witness the same thing see it in such different ways? Let's take a closer look. Mary is pro-gun control and is only five feet tall. She's the one who was held at gunpoint. How big do you think the gun was to Mary? Eyewitness Bill is a big man who has extensive security training and is a 30-year member of the National Rifle Association. Bill was watching the gunman from behind the aisle. How big was that gun, Bill?

It turns out that the gunman's shirt was red with green stripes. The woman who wasn't sure he was wearing a shirt was only able to see the back of his head. The seven witnesses who thought he had brown hair were standing in the shadow while the three who saw lighter hair were standing in the sunlight. The witness who thought the gunman might have been a woman was the same witness who was only able to see the back of the gunman's head and his long hair.

"To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit..." 1 Corinthians 12:9

What kinds of things can affect the way someone sees the world? Just about everything we experience will have an impact on how we view the world: childhood memories, upbringing, religious training, health issues, life events, experiences, and sensitivities all have an affect.

A person's experiences and beliefs affect how they see political and religious issues as well. Those who have been repeatedly hit over the head with the Bible by antagonistic Christians more eager to make a point than demonstrate Christ's love have built a wall around themselves to protect against further attack. Those who feel convicted about something they have done in their lives may be searching for information about God. Still others have never seriously thought about eternal life, and this is all Greek to them.

"To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues..." 1 Corinthians 12:10

How should we share our faith with others if everyone sees and reacts to things differently? When sharing our faith, it is important to remember two very important things about communication skills: 1) communicate so they can understand, and 2) know your audience.

The first rule of communication is that it is the speaker's job to be understood, and not the listener's job to understand. It is my job to speak in a way that allows you to understand what I am saying. It is not your job to try to decipher what I just said. If we understand this principle, we will make more of an effort to make our communication clear, and we will not get frustrated with our listeners if they need clarification. In addition, we will tailor our communication to speak directly to them.