What is a Spiritual Gift? Do I have one? How do I get one? How would I know what it is?
Christians often become dissatisfied with Church for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons is the improper use/awareness of their own Spritual Gifts.
- Maybe they aren’t participating in any kind of ministry within the church. By serving as merely “spectators” they are not using their Spiritual Gifts at all.
- Or perhaps they are actively serving somewhere in the church but not in an area in which they are able to use their Spritual Gift(s). What good is a Spiritual Gift if it isn’t being used?
So, how do we fix this problem? We learn what our Spiritual Gift(s) are and how to use them in the church. Read on…
What Are Spiritual Gifts? Do You Have One? How Do You Get One?
1. In order to have a Spiritual Gift, you have to already be a Christian.
Why? Because Spiritual Gifts (SG) come from the Holy Spirit. In 1st Corinthians 12:1-6 we see that all SGs come from the same place: The Holy Spirit. When you become a Christian, the Bible says the Holy Spirit comes to live “inside” you. So, in order to have a SG, you have to be a Christian.
So what is a Spiritual Gift? It depends on who you ask, there are many different ways to define them. I like to think of them as “super powers” for Christians (just kidding… but seriously). For the purposes of this post, here is my definition:
A Spiritual Gift is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit to a Christian in order to strengthen the ministry abilities of the Church.
2. Everybody has at least one.
Yeah, that’s right everybody. If you’re sitting there saying “Well, I’m a Christian, but I’m pretty sure that I don’t have a Spiritual Gift,” then I’m sitting here telling you that you’re wrong. Don’t believe me? Read these verses:
3. Not everyone has the same gift(s).
Read 1st Corinthians 12:11. “[The Holy Spirit] alone decides which gift each person should have.” This suggests that according to the Divine Will of the Holy Spirit, each person is given an appropriate SG. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If everyone in the church had the same SG, then only one thing would get done. The Bible uses the analogy of the human body to describe the way individuals with varying SGs can be used in the church. Read 1st Corinthians 12:12-21.
So you can see how important it is to have many members of your church using their various SGs to the best of their ability. Remember this:
The diversity of Spiritual Gifts require interdependence within the Church.
4. You can ask God for additional gifts.
Yes, really. Once you discover your SG and begin to use it in the ministry, you can request that God give you additional gifts to help fulfill needs in your ministry area, unfilled ministry needs in the church, or to support a particular passion you have for ministry. Of course, it isn’t guaranteed. God will only grant these according to his Will, so don’t be discouraged if He determines that your strongest gift is the most important one for you to be using. However, if you have been a good steward of the gift(s) you have already been given and still seek an additional gift for the proper reason & with the proper attitude, the Bible says in 1st Corinthians 14:12 that it is possible that God will honor that request. Just ask Him!
Common Misconceptions About Spiritual Gifts
With so much talk (and unfortunately so little Biblical focus) about SGs out there, it is often that we have some incorrect ideas about what Spiritual Gifts are. So, having talked about what Spiritual Gifts are, let’s talk a little about what they are not…
1. Spiritual Gifts are not the same thing as personal talents.
You may have a fantastic talent for repairing car engines, writing, or drawing and you might wonder, does this have anything to do with my Spiritual Gift? The Lord blesses each of us with talents and abilities, but these are not -by definition- Spiritual Gifts. However, that doesn’t mean you are not supposed to use your talents for the ministry. In fact, just the opposite. Your talents and abilities have been uniquely given to you as a means for executing the actual practice of using your SG! If all “teachers” had the same talents, then every classroom would be the same and that would be pretty boring right?
If you are looking to discover what your SG is, your personal talents and abilities might lend a clue. Because your talents are intended to support you in the ministry, they are often specifically given to support your Spiritual Gift as well. So, what are you good at? It may be a clue to discovering your Spiritual Gift.
2. Spiritual Gifts are not the same as your Spiritual Calling.
As a Christian, you share the same Spiritual Calling as every other Christian in the world: The Great Commission. In Matthew 28, Jesus is very specific about what we are called to do: Make Disciples. Additionally, in Acts 1, He tells us to go into our cities (Jerusalem), states (Judea), surrounding regions (Samaria), and all over the world to tell people about Him. That’s why I believe that “Discipleship” or “Missions” is not a Gift of the Spirit… we are ALL called to do this!
Of course, you may have a special talent to go along with your SG of “Teaching” that equips you to be an extremely effective “maker of disciples,” but your Spiritual Gift in this case is still “Teaching.” Likewise, you may have the SG of “Evangelism,” with a heart for people of other cultures that calls you to the foreign mission field… but you are still a Christian with the SG of “Evangelism” who happens to be fulfilling the part of the Great Commission that calls us to tell people about Jesus at the “ends of the earth.” With that being said, you will still find various writings that do attribute these “default” callings as “gifts.” But as always, if in doubt, don’t take my word for it. Explore the passages of the Bible describing Spiritual Gifts directly. See for yourself what the scriptures say:
3. Spiritual Gifts do not make you “spiritual.”
The discovery of your SG should never be followed by pridefulness. Unfortunately, there are cases when a person discovers their SG and it goes to their head. The Bible is very clear that no SG is more important than another. Of course we are all human and we sometimes get caught up in the game of “keep up.” But, remember what we read earlier about the “body” of Christ in 1st Corinthians 12:12-21? Likewise, in Romans 12:4-5, we see that “each of us needs all the others.”
Again in Ephesians 4:16, we see that each person does his or her “own special work” in order to help “the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” So, if no SG is more important than another, then no person is more important than another.
In spite of this, there may be cases where members of the church family could become discouraged in the ministry application of their SG. If someone’s SG is “Service” then it might be easy for them to become discouraged when the room they arranged the chairs in before a service sees 10 people get saved but all the credit goes to the person who spoke with the gift of “Evangelism.” Hopefully -by this point in the lesson- you recognize that neither of them could have done their work without the help of the other & the important thing is that everyone can now rejoice together in the salvation of 10 people who wouldn’t know Jesus had it not been for their efforts! So, as the Bible says in 1st Corinthians 12:22-26, we must make every effort to support these members of our “family” regardless of the size, appearance, prominence, or effectiveness of their task. It takes everyone in a ministry area working together to fullfill our Spiritual Calling.
4. Your Spiritual Gift does not preclude you from an “unrelated” area of ministry.
OK, so your SG is “Pastoral Care.” You have been especially blessed with the ability to minister to the needs of others in a way that makes them feel comforted in the Lord. If your church has a social and someone spills a drink on the floor, you are not allowed to use the excuse that your SG isn’t “Service” to get out of grabbing a mop and cleaning it up. Really?!? If you think you are too good to mop, then this concept could probably be grouped with #3 above.
You cannot turn down opportunities to serve because of your knowledge of your own Spiritual Gift.
In fact, if you are trying to discover your SG, diving straight into a ministry opportunity is often one of the most effective ways to find it! I teach Sunday School, but I would have NEVER discovered that my second strongest SG is “Teaching” had I not been willing to stand up in front of a bunch of High School guys for the first time and try it out. Here’s what will happen: As you serve in various areas of the church, you will begin to get feedback from others. Let’s say you go with a group of people from your church to a local nursing home. While you are there, you are deeply touched by the elderly people you meet. They have to pull you away from the bedside as they travel from room to room to visit each person. You are filled with compassion for them and immediately form loving relationships with them. On the way home, a person you look up to mentions that you did a fantastic job and tells you that they noticed how easily you connected with the patients. You may have just discovered that you have the Spiritual Gift of “Mercy!” If you had sat on your butt in the pew and never volunteered to go, you might spend your whole life like the miserable church goers I mentioned at the beginning of the lesson.
So -in summary- remember to use ministry opportunities to help you learn what your SG is…
5. The effects of a particular Spiritual Gift are not always the same from person to person.
Let’s say two people share the same SG of “Teaching.” It might be easy to focus on comparing the results of your ministry to that of the other person’s to see how effective you are. This would be a terrible mistake and would only result in one of two outcomes: Pridefulness or Discouragement. Why? Because the Bible tells us that although all SGs come from the same place (The Holy Spirit), the effects of these gifts are not always the same.
In the three verses of 1st Corinthians 12:4-6, we see that there are three tiers of “factors” that affect how Spiritual Gifts are utilized. Check out the illustration below: (coming soon)
6. Spiritual Gifts are not the same as Fruits of the Spirit.
Now that you know what Spiritual Gifts are…
…it’s time to discover which one(s) you have been given. We’ll cover that in Part 2, so make sure you are in Sunday School next week (Feb 26, 2012).
In the meantime, here is your homework:
- Go out and buy a notebook and pen. Bring it with you next week (don’t forget your Bible).
- Read these scriptures to get an introduction to what the Bible says about Spiritual Gifts: Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11, 1st Peter 4:10-11, 1st Corinthians 12:8-10, and 1st Corinthians 12:28-30.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will begin to reveal to you what your Spiritual Gift is.