The Bible speaks in numerous locations about “spiritual gifts”. The primary passages are Romans 12:6-8, 1Corinthians 12:4-11; 12:28, where gifts such as prophecy, wisdom, teaching, healing, etc. are listed. But how is a believer to know what gift(s) s/he may have? This is something that plagued my mind as a youngster, and probably was only settled in my mind when I was in my 30’s.
I’d like to provide a short sampling of ways to determine your giftedness, because they’re what I’ve experienced and witnessed to be true.
1) “What are you passionate about?” What drives you? What consumes your thoughts and ministerial pursuits?
When I was a youngster, I was extremely passionate about playing drums. I started learning when I was in 5th grade, and the desire grew after my parents bought me my first set of drums. I practiced constantly – not because I was told to, but because rhythm was ingrained in me. I’d tap even when I wasn’t sitting in front of a single drum, and music filled my head.
I was barely in high school when I began drumming in the youth group and adult services. I drummed and drummed until my hands blistered. I grew up in a Pentecostal denomination, so I was accustomed to lots of church-going, and after a while I was drumming for Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night services.
All that drumming drove me to improve, and I did improve. I was able to pick up on music structure very young, so that when groups did not have a drummer visited the church, I could easily improvise and fill the void. I was truly passionate drums then, and the passion has only intensified for music today, but now it’s in the realm of singing and playing guitar.
2) “Is it easy for you to learn the particulars within the area of your passion?”
As already mentioned, I found it easy to learn musical structure and how to apply drumming techniques to worship. About 10 years ago, I purchased an inexpensive acoustic guitar to start learning. After some frustration, I put it away for many years. I even tried to sell it in a garage sale. But thanks be to God I was not able to sell it. So it sat in a closet until just under two years ago. It was Thanksgiving 2013, and my mom asked me to bring the guitar with me to dinner so I could play music with my sister, who is a phenomenal pianist. I reluctantly agreed, even though I knew only about 5 basic chords.
Thanksgiving Day 2013 ignited a fire within me to learn to play the guitar. I practiced every possible moment I could, and within the year I was just confident enough to begin playing in church. I wasn’t by any means excellent, but I was decent…and I had the passion and desire to learn and grow.
Today, I play the guitar and drums (depending on the need) in the worship team at the church my family and I attend. My passion for drumming has faded, but has been replaced by singing and playing guitar. I truly love leading people into worship of our great God.
Here’s the point, learning the guitar has been fun and relatively quick for me. While I am not without mistakes, I have learned exponentially over these two years. If er have a gift that God intends to be used to edify the body of Christ, I’m a firm believer God will increase our abilities if we put our heart and effort into it. When I began learning 2 years ago, I dedicated my learning to God for His glory. Even today, I often pray before my practice time that God would bless my efforts.
3) Are you fulfilled how/where you’re serving?
Sometimes, we hear pastors say we ought to pursue our giftedness. Yet, many of those same pastors only intend that to mean, “We need someone to clean toilets. Will you do that in service to the Lord, please?” I, like you, have no problem helping when/where needed, but I also really want to serve in a fulfilling capacity.
We’ll know we’re serving within the area of our giftedness when we “finish” a time of service and say, “Ahhh, that was nice…and I long for my next opportunity to do it again.” When we serve where we’re gifted you’ll not only enjoy what we’re doing, but we’ll also be energized by preparing to do it. I not only enjoy worship gatherings, but I also have fun learning new songs, improving my playing/singing techniques.
If teaching is one’s gift, maybe he can begin using his giftedness by teaching “Sunday School”, a small group, or actively engaging/participating with those who already teach those subjects, and hopefully his gifts will be supported by those in the position to help him exercise them in greater capacities.
My wife is a gifted financial and personal organizer. She enjoys organizing people to accomplish goals, and she’s good at it. People thank her for what she does because it’s a relief to those who are not gifted in areas of administration. She enjoys observing church finances to determine where improvements can be made. I don’t think financially…and she doesn’t think musically. This is the beauty in that God gifts us all differently, and it’s crucial that we all use our abilities where we’re gifted.
4) Do others affirm your impact/influence through your service?
When we dive in to serve others in the body of Christ, we grow more and more comfortable with serving, and we inevitably improve with time. If we’re passionate and are putting our all into ministry, people will take notice. Hopefully, they will see a positive impact we make in their lives and the life of the church.
I’ve experienced this myself, and have witnessed it in others. When we’re making a difference, people will notice, and they’ll likely speak up. After all, maybe that person’s gift is in encouragement, and they’re exercising that gift. Maybe the encouragement we receive will come in the form of gentle critique, or maybe it may come in the form of thankfulness and praise. Take note of these compliments, critiques, and praises, because we’ll need to remind ourselves of them when we go through a “funk”.
5) Does your local church body allow you – or facilitate – your ministry gift(s)?
I think this aspect of spiritual gifting is one of the most crucial. By this point, we’ve pretty much nailed down where we’re gifted, and now we simply want to exercise them. But it’s not enough for the Spirit-filled follower of Christ to simply exercise gifts from the fringes. No, someone exercising giftedness is fulfilled by serving wholeheartedly.
For instance, what if one’s giftedness is in dance or art? Chances are good she is probably not going to be permitted to exercise interpretive dance in “traditional” congregations. That’s not a bad thing, it’s simply not that body’s personality. So, maybe it means the artist/dancer should consider pursuing her gifts in a congregation where she can exercise them.
What if our giftedness is in teaching adults, but church leaders only facilitates serving in the children’s ministries? Because we want to serve where needed, we serve. But, unless given a passion for children, serving in children’s ministries when we’re gifted to teach and engage with adults will likely leave us feeling unfulfilled, and quite frankly, burdened. After all, serving in children or youth ministries should NEVER be treated as a stepping stone where we get our feet wet before moving “up” to teaching adults. We shouldn’t treat children that way, nor should we treat ministers that way.