Since 1995, Gary Chapman’s theory of the five love languages has helped bring people together, inspiring attentiveness and clarity when it comes to expressing our feelings. According to Chapman, there are five main love languages and a person will feel the most loved when they are served according to their love language. The five love languages are:
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
In this five-part series, we will take a closer look at how each of these love languages can be used to minister to others in our sphere of influence. Consider this quote from Sydney S. Reynolds, former First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency:
“The Lord … knows who we are and where we are, and He knows who needs our help.”
To truly minister as Jesus Christ would, we need to know those we serve. This can only come through diligent seeking and investment. Our Heavenly Father knows how we need to be cared for, looked after, loved. Learning more about how to utilize someone’s love language can help us receive inspiration on how to minister.
How Do I Find Out Someone’s Love Language?
Before we dive in, here are a few tips on how to discern someone’s love language.
- Ask them! Love languages are popular and there is a good chance they’ve taken the test.
- Encourage them to take the test online.
- Observe how someone serves others. How they serve is most often how they would love to be served.
- Try different ways of serving based on the love languages and see what they respond to.
It is important to remember many love languages overlap; don’t become stressed about trying to force your ideas and inspiration into a certain set of guidelines or examples.
Here is what it means if receiving gifts is your primary love language:
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.
Now that we understand a bit more about what receiving gifts can mean to others with this love language, we are going to break down how to transform the act of giving a gift into an act of ministering.
Scriptural Examples of Gift Giving
Gifts have often been used to show adoration in the scriptures. The most notable example is the wise men bringing gifts to the Christ-child at his birth. We can also ponder on the widow who gave her mite while others brought their rich gifts, the woman with the alabaster box who anointed Christ with expensive ointment, and even the sacrifices offered upon altars.
All of these examples remind us of two things that can be useful when giving gifts today. First, it is the motivation behind the giving that is most important and meaningful. Second, gift giving is ultimately meant to point us back to Jesus Christ, the most loving and precious gift ever offered.
A Few Rules About Gift Giving
Here are a few rules to keep in mind when picking out gifts:
- Pay attention to what someone talks about. Have they mentioned a movie they want to see? Get tickets. Have they gushed over something for a long time? Buy it. Are they struggling with something? What gift could alleviate their struggle? Do they mention a craving? We often reveal our desires and wishes through everyday conversation. Attentive listening can provide you with a plethora of ideas.
- Gifts are often more meaningful when they are unexpected and random. Don’t wait for big occasions or events that are logical. Your gift can be small, but the surprise of it can make all the difference.
- While a useful gift is a wonderful way to show someone you have been paying attention, avoid gifts that may come across as offensive. Unless explicitly asked for, gifts that imply someone has a deficit they can improve upon makes someone feel worse.
Using Gifts to Minister to Others
Giving a gift can be a special way to minister to others. It can also become too materialistic if we are not careful. If you would like to incorporate gift giving into your ministering efforts, we have a few suggestions.
As a part of your personal study, write down some of your favorite qualities and characteristics of the person you would like to minister to. Even if you barely know the person, strive to come know more about them through the Holy Ghost. Then, think about gifts that may suit their personality and what they could enjoy.
Try to consistently give gifts that are timely and relevant. If the same gift is given over and over again, it can easily lose meaning. Pray to be inspired and stay in touch so you can remain inspired.
These practical gifts are great for those you minister to, as well as ministering efforts on a whole:
- Baked goods. To start off, try baking something new every Sunday and praying to know who to deliver it to.
- Handwritten notes or cards. Include a personal compliment or mention something you appreciated recently. You want the person to know you’ve been paying attention.
- Supplies for a hobby. Help someone develop a hobby or talent. Join them! It’s a great opportunity to get to know them.
Is your love language receiving gifts? Let us know your ideas on how to minister. Check back next week for the next installment in this series.