“Hi Pastor Scott,
You talked about people having spiritual gifts and using them in the church. Do you have insight into determining your spiritual gifts? Thanks!”
Here’s my response…
This is such a common question people have developed surveys to help determine spiritual gifts. Ephesians 4:7-8 says God has given at least one gift to each person, but Scripture doesn’t provide any strategies for determining those gifts. So to be clear, these are my suggestions but I can’t support them with verses.
1. Learn the spiritual gifts in Scripture.
There are two primary passages listing the gifts (Rom 12:6-8 and 1 Cor 12:4-11). Unless you have some familiarity with the gifts, you’ll never know what gifts you have. As you read the passages, pray God reveals how He’s gifted you.
These passages aren’t exhaustive lists so much as they’re palettes helping us understand what the gifts look like. For example, some people are gifted musically, but even though music is prominent in the church it isn’t listed as a gift. We shouldn’t assume that just because something isn’t listed it isn’t a ‘real’ gift.
2. Consider what you enjoy doing.
From my own personal experience and from what I’ve seen in other’s lives, it seems like most people enjoy using their gifts. Similarly, most people are also fairly comfortable using their gifts. They often look forward to it.
Using myself as an example, I enjoy teaching and all the studying associated with it. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned. I’m comfortable behind the pulpit. But I would dread singing publicly.
To provide some balance to this, it could still be challenging for some people to use their gifts. This doesn’t mean they aren’t gifted that way, it just means they’re going to be stretched some in the exercise of it. When I first started preaching, I was excited, but also very nervous.
3. Look for validation from others.
If you think you’re gifted to lead:
- People should follow you and look to you for direction.
- There shouldn’t be countless people frustrated when you’re in charge.
If you think you’re gifted musically:
- You should receive compliments when singing.
- You shouldn’t see people cringing and putting their fingers in their ears.
If you think you have the gift of teaching:
- People should come to hear you teach. We don’t seek praise, and when we receive it we do our best to deflect it, but we should receive some positive feedback on our message.
- You shouldn’t take over a bible study and the numbers drop significantly.
If you think you have the gift of mercy:
- People should seek you out when they’re hurting.
- You shouldn’t have people confronting you about your tone and insensitivity.
4. Be involved in the body of Christ.
This encouragement might be more important than the others. Hermits and pew potatoes never learn their gifts. If you aren’t in fellowship, even if you suspect what your gift is, you can’t use it for God’s glory and the saints’ edification.
Involvement in the body of Christ is when:
- You’ll be asked to do certain things.
- You’ll feel inclined to minister and serve in certain ways.
- You’ll start saying to yourself, “I feel like I should…”
A final note: Serve outside your gifting.
You might not be gifted a certain way, but it doesn’t mean you don’t serve in that way. Serving, giving and encouraging are listed as gifts (implying some will be more inclined in these areas than others) but nobody should ever say, “Well, I don’t have those gifts so I’ll never serve, give, or encourage.”
Evangelism is similar in that Ephesians 4:11 lists evangelists as an office (as opposed to a gift). But just because people don’t see themselves as evangelists doesn’t mean they shouldn’t share the Gospel. This is a call given to every believer (Matt 28:16-20).
Discuss: How did you learn your gift(s)? Have you found it enjoyable and comfortable as I wrote, or would you disagree with that? Share below!