First of all, God is not playing a “hide and seek” game with spiritual gifts. It has been biblically established in the last post that every follower of Christ has at least one gift for the purpose of ministry in the Church. So how does God reveal these to believers?
There are many theories that exist. One of the most popular is to take a gift inventory or assessment. This has been a prevailing theory for around thirty years. A second popular method links personality to gifts and offers basic personality testing. Like an inventory, a test is administered. Another theory proposes that a person only needs to study the Bible to understand his or her gifts. A fourth theory follows a basic formula that includes multiple steps.
While these methods may be helpful (I refuse to limit how God can work!), I believe there is a better way for Christians to know and understand their spiritual gifts. It is ridiculously simple. (Drum roll please.) A follower of Christ can best discover his or her gift or gifts by prayerfully serving Christ.
If you are unsure of your ministry gift, then take every short-term opportunity to “try out” ministry areas. Pray for God to lead you and then try out a ministry area for a week or two. Did God give you a peace about working in that area? Did it bring you joy to serve there? Were you able to do the tasks (or learn them with some training)? If the answer is “Yes” to these questions, then you may be gifted for this ministry. Keep praying and discerning. Stay there until God closes the door. If the answer is “no” to any of the three questions, then move on to another ministry area and try that one. Neither you nor the church is edified by remaining in an area for which you are not gifted. If you are unsure about the answer to these questions, then stay until you have an answer. God will reveal this to you if you ask Him to guide you.
How do I know this simple method works? This was my doctoral dissertation. I wanted to see how spiritual gifts applied to volunteer ministry. One of the discoveries was overwhelming. I conducted a series of interviews with twenty-seven participants who met stringent criteria. These were people who had been serving in the same ministry area for a long period of time, loved what they were doing, and (by their pastor’s testimony) were highly effective in ministry. All twenty-seven stated that they discovered their gift or gifts in the midst of ministry. They believed that God led them to a place (or called them) and then equipped them for ministry. By the way, this seems to me to be a biblical pattern, too. Therefore, as a church leader, I should focus more on getting people involved in serving and encouraging them to pray about the opportunities before them. God will give discernment to those who ask.
How did you determine your spiritual gift? Leave me a comment.
In this series, we are looking at the critical need to rediscover spiritual gifts and their purpose in the Church. Posts include:
Intro- The Tragic Neglect of Spiritual Gifts
1. What are spiritual gifts?
2. What is the purpose of spiritual gifts?
3. Who has spiritual gifts?
4. Spiritual Gift Nuggets (from 1 Cor 12, Rom 12, and Eph 4)
5. A Quick Guide to Gift Discovery
6. How to teach on Spiritual Gifts
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See what I have been ranting about in the past. Visit the BiG IdEAS! page to see the previous posts, arranged by series.