157 - How to Determine Your Spiritual Gifts
|Written by Patrick Morley|
|Wednesday, December 10 2008 12:59|
The following comments were made during a small group meeting I attended with a number of godly men. They are typical of the comments Christian men everywhere are making:
THE GREAT DESIRE
The greatest yearning I hear today in my travels is that Christian men have an intense desire to make their lives count. "I want my life to make a difference. I want my life to have mattered." I know that women feel this way, too.
However, there is a new sense in which men are thinking these thoughts. In the past, men wanted their lives to count in their work and families, and to achieve financial success. While these desires have not gone away, today men want more. Today men want their lives to count for God.
If someone wants to make a contribution to building the kingdom and tending the culture, one of the most important steps to take is for them to understand their spiritual gifts.
It would be foolish to try to become a salesman if you prefer to work with numbers. In the same way we pursue vocational employment based upon our aptitudes and abilities, we pursue our spiritual service based on an understanding of how God has gifted us.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
Every believer receives at least one spiritual gift. "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7). The Holy Spirit determines our spiritual gifts. "He gives them to each one, just as he determines" (1 Corinthians 12:11). "Each man has his own gift from God" (1 Corinthians 7:7).
The purpose of our spiritual gifts is to serve Christ by serving others, helping to fulfill the Great Commission. "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others . . . . " Our responsibility is to be faithful. ". . . to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms" (1 Peter 4:10).
Spiritual gifts include service gifts, speaking gifts, and signifying gifts. While theologians and teachers often differ on how to precisely classify and name these gifts, the following generally captures the gist of the different gifts.
Service gifts are the ligaments and muscle tissue that hold the church of Jesus Christ together. Service gifts are often low profile, behind-the-scene gifts. They include showing mercy, service (or helps), hospitality, giving, administration, leadership, faith, and discernment.
People who serve are eager for God to receive the credit for whatever good comes. "If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 4:11). Here are brief definitions of the service gifts with a few examples of how each gift may be used. These, along with the definitions of speaking and signifying gifts that follow, are adapted from the work of Carl Smith, Kenneth O. Gangel, and Leslie B. Flynn:
Speaking gifts include knowledge, wisdom, preaching, teaching, evangelism, apostleship, shepherding, and encouragement. "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God" (1 Peter 4:11). Here are definitions and examples of the spiritual gifts of speaking:
People who have been given speaking gifts are able to help equip others to have a personal ministry of service. "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up" (Ephesians 4:11-12).
The signifying gifts are miracles, healing, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
To satisfy the deep longings of our hearts to do something significant for God we must first know how God has uniquely gifted us. If you have never studied and understood your own spiritual gifts, let me make two recommendations.
First, take some time right now or during an upcoming quiet time to reflect on the spiritual gifts cataloged in this article. Put check marks by the ones to which you are drawn. Study the four passages of Scripture which deal with spiritual gifts: Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31; Ephesians 4:11-13; and 1 Peter 4:9-11. You may want to study the context by examining the verses before and after these specific references. Ask God to reveal His gifts to you, then show you the most effective way to serve Him.
Second, I have read two books which helped me tremendously: Unwrap Your Spiritual Gifts, by Kenneth O. Gangel (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1974), and 19 Gifts of the Spirit, by Leslie B. Flynn (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983). You may want to read one or both of them. May you fully satisfy your desire to lead a life that counts for God.
May you be able to say, "My life made a difference. My life mattered." The life that counts the most is the one that fully employs the special abilities God gives.