Note: Many of the ideas in this blog post derived from Simone Monroe, Women’s Minister at Lake Pointe Church in Texas. I attended a conference called “Rooted” on February 6-7 in College Station, Texas where I heard her speak on “Serving Out of Your Giftedness” at a break-out session.
God built the human body to work effectively and efficiently in its healthy state. We have fingers to help us grasp and hold on to things, legs that allow us to move from one place to the next and even taste buds that let us enjoy sweet and savory foods. I’m no doctor but it is evident that God thought through every detail, big and small, when He created us. The same is true with the church, the body of Christ. God has equipped people with spiritual gifts to make up His body so that we can function efficiently and effectively according to His will (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).
Three weeks ago I listened to an extremely wise woman speak at a conference on the topic of spiritual gifts. She gave wonderful insight and cleared up many questions that were foggy in my mind regarding the issue. I was enthralled and decided to dive deeper into the subject for myself. I had never thought about what my spiritual gifts were and I certainly hadn’t thought about whether or not I was using my gifts effectively.
While the Bible isn’t rigid on the topic of spiritual gifts, they are discussed in multiple areas and therefore are important (it was a “hot-topic” in the ‘90s). For the sake of keeping things short and simple, I’m going to break it down and briefly answer three questions: 1) What are spiritual gifts? 2) How do I figure out what my spiritual gifts are? 3) How do I use my spiritual gifts?
1. What are spiritual gifts?
Spiritual gifts are those gifts given by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12: 4-6) for the accomplishment of God’s purpose and for building up the body of Christ. Essentially, they are our “spiritual DNA” from God -we do not choose them and they never leave us. Unlike talents must be learned and improved upon, spiritual gifts are given when you become a follower of Christ. Every believer has at least one spiritual gift (1 Peter 4:10) and many believers have a mix of different gifts.
2. How do I figure out what my spiritual gifts are?
There are a variety of assessments that can help get you started, however I caution you with this. While they can be useful, I would not solely rely on a computerized test. My recommendation would be to start with a self-evaluation. You know yourself better than anyone (except God). Think through what you are good at, what you are passionate about, and what actions or qualities have been affirmed by others. Second, ask people that know you well and who you consider mentors or friends. Many times we have blinders on and others can see our spiritual gifts before we do. Finally and most importantly, pray. The Lord doesn’t want you to be in the dark. He desires to have a relationship with you…He will reveal your gifts in His timing. Once you have an idea of what your spiritual gifts may be, try out your new wings. The Lord often presents opportunities for us – He knows our gifts and where we would be of best use to the body of Christ.
3. How do I use my spiritual gifts?
The Bible is clear on this issue. Spiritual gifts are to be used to build up and edify the church. If this is not the case, your gifts are not being used correctly and you need to re-evaluate. Romans 12: 3-8 has powerful words about the dangers that come with our giftedness. Take a look at Romans 12:3:
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3 (NIV)
For those of us who serve in areas that are more “noticed” by the rest of the congregation, it is easy to get a haughty and prideful attitude. On the flip side, for those who serve in areas that are less noticed it is easy to get hung up on feeling “less important” or insignificant. For example, the Pastor of the church, likely gifted with teaching, is in the “spotlight” more than the loving elderly woman on the third pew every Sunday who is gifted with encouragement. All gifts are equally important. God gifts the body according to the needs of the body (1 Corinthians 21-26). Serving in the church is NOT to benefit ourselves, but instead to help and serve the church and ultimately, our Father. The focus on our gifts should be on the Savior, not on the servant.
Are your gifts and the reason you use them all about you or all about Him? We are to be good stewards of the gifts the Lord has given to us.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
If you are serving where you are gifted, you will likely find the most fulfillment, joy and not lose your passion for ministry when challenges occur. You will be less likely to experience burnout, you will have more balance in life and ministry and you will bring glory to the Father.
Take a look at the graphic below. I’m a visual learner and I was excited when this was drawn out in the session I attended at the conference. When we understand our gifts and use them as service for His Kingdom, you are in the “sweet spot.” That is to be our goal.
While serving where our gifts are is important, I do think it is also important to realize that there are areas where we are called to serve that may not be where we are “gifted”. For example, evangelism. I do believe there is a spiritual gift of evangelism, however the Bible is CLEAR that everyone is called to tell others about Jesus (Mark 16:15, Matthew 26:16-20). This is non-negotiable. Even though some people are really gifted at sharing the Gospel, we are all called to do it, despite what our spiritual gifts are. It is also important to realize that sometimes we are asked to serve in areas of need in the church. As previously mentioned, our gifts are given to us to benefit the church, so where we serve should be based upon that principle.
Overall, it is encouraging that God loves each of us so much to give us a job, a way to contribute to the body of Christ and allow the church to make the great impact for the Kingdom. God doesn’t need any of our help, but He loves us enough to let us play a part in His plan. He has equipped each of us to fulfill our specific assignments. Praise God for His provision, love and care!
What are your spiritual gifts? Are you serving in those areas? I encourage you to examine your heart regarding the areas you are or not serving in the church. Is it all about you, or all about Him?