When we finished up our series on Elder Qualifications a couple weeks ago, I mentioned that teaching is a spiritual gift. Not everyone will have the gift of teaching, but every member will have a spiritual gift.
Several people said afterward they would like to learn more about spiritual gifts and what gift they might have. I preached on this subject a few years ago if you want to hear more, but here are a few main points I would bring out:
- Every member has a gift. If you are a genuine Christian, then Christ’s Spirit dwells inside of you, and you are uniquely gifted by God. This gift was sovereignly endowed by God and needs to be cultivated and exercised for the building up of the church. There are several passages in the Bible where you can find a list of spiritual gifts: Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:8-10, 28, 29-30; Eph. 4:11; 1 Pet. 4:11. Here is a comparative chart of all 18 gifts mentioned in Scripture.
- Don’t underestimate your gift. You may think, “I’m too old, or too busy, or too afraid of people to use my gift.” But God can still use you. Don’t compare yourself to others or undervalue your gift. Many gifts can be exercised far away from the spotlight. You will probably never see your liver or pancreas, but they are essential to your survival. In the same way, some gifts may seem “less honorable,” but they are no less important (1 Cor. 12:22-23).
- Don’t overestimate your gift. In reality, everything you have is a gift. Paul asks, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7). And the answer is, “Absolutely nothing.” Because everything you have came from God. So keep things in perspective and remember your spiritual gift is on loan from God. It is not for your glory, but for His.
- Pray for opportunities to serve. The first step to identifying your spiritual gift is to pray for opportunities to serve. I guarantee that if you humble yourself before God and ask Him for direction, He will open up a door for you to use your gifts.
- Have a servant’s heart. Be patient and available to help. Help anywhere and everywhere that help is needed. Don’t have a consumer mentality (“this is what I want”) but rather a servant’s heart (“how can I help?”).
- Take a spiritual gifts test. There is a free one online here. Now, bear in mind, these tests are not fool-proof. And they’re certainly not biblically required. The Holy Spirit was doing just fine for almost two-thousand years before these tests came along. If you take one, you’ll notice that they are more a survey of what you enjoy doing and perceive about your own abilities. They can’t factor in the essential role of others in the Body of Christ to affirm your gifts (see #7 below). Nevertheless, the questions are interesting, and the results can be surprisingly accurate. If you’ve never done a spiritual gifts analysis, it may be one helpful way to “think with sober judgment” (Rom. 12:3) about your gifts. (FYI when I took one a few years ago, it said I was gifted in Pastor/Shepherd, Teaching, and Administration, and for the most part, I think that’s accurate)
- Listen to the Body of Christ. Remember, we are all members of one Body, with Jesus Christ as our Head. Often, the greatest way to discern your gift is to ask other people in the church. Listen to the advice of others. Seek their feedback and even their criticism. Notice what things they delegate to you. Watch for areas where God brings blessing and fruitfulness. In particular, cherish the counsel of older men and women in the church who know you well. These people love you and want to help you serve the Lord.
These seven points should help get you started. It may take you months or even years to find your “niche.” But most important, just do something. Get busy doing kingdom work. As long as you are serving faithfully in the church, God will be glorified.
Question: What spiritual gift(s) do you think you have? How did God reveal this to you? Click here to leave a comment.
Photo credit: Ciccio Pizzettaro