I've been reading a selection of books recently on being a "minister's wife". There's a not-surprisingly similar theme... that is, that a minister's wife need not conform to the elastic-backed pants and cardigan-wearing stereotype... she may be herself (and go bare-foot, hurdle hedges, wear cute shoes etc) and still be the minister's wife even if she can't play the piano. Romans 12 is quoted and explained like this: God has given us different gifts and we are to use the gifts he has given us to serve Him. This will be different for every minister's wife. We serve Him according to the gifts he has given us, not according to the congregation's expectations or what the last minister's wife did.
The funny thing about all this is that it reads the passages on gifts through a western lens.
Romans 12:4-6 says,
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them...Well I'm different to everybody else (especially I'm different from the superwoman minister's wife around the corner) and I'll use my gifts in ways that I find fulfilling thank-you very much.
Now let me explain gifts to you through a pacific lens.
1 Corinthains 12:4-7 says,
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
You might have gifts that are different from someone else's, but they are from the same spirit, it is the same Lord we serve, your gifts are for the good of the church, for the good of the community. They are not for you at all, but for your brother and sister. In fact, you have very little say in how they are used, but are to do exactly what you are told.
Now I've exaggerated both sides (and pray I'll be forgiven!) but it makes my point.
We read scripture through cultural lenses!