Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts
As you seek to discover your spiritual gift or gifts, ask yourself these questions: (1) Have I received the gift of salvation in Christ? Unlike natural talents, spiritual gifts are bestowed only on believers. (2) Am I walking in fellowship with the Lord? To be effective, spiritual gifts must be manifested in the context of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This fruit is impeded by unconfessed sin and a failure to abide in Christ (John 15:4). (3) Do I really want to develop my gifts? This will not happen by accident.
1. Asking. Begin to ask God to show you your gifts (cf. Philippians 4:6-7; James 1:5). God wants you to discover and implement the gifts He has given you, and this is a request you can make with confidence and expectation.
2. Awareness. (a.) Be aware of the biblical teaching on spiritual gifts by studying Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12-14, and Ephesians 4. (b.) Look at one or more of the helpful books on spiritual gifts that are now available. (c.) Expose yourself to other Christians who clearly know and use their spiritual gifts. Ask them about their gifts and how they discovered them.
3. Aspiration. God is committed to your joy, not your misery. “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). As you pray and learn about the various gifts, ask yourself what you would most want to do. “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Your feelings should not be the only test, but they may indicate the direction for you to take. For example, Paul told Timothy, “if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do” (1 Timothy 3:1).
4. Activity. Just as we discover our natural talents by trying our hand at numerous things, in the same way we can discover our spiritual gifts by experimenting with several of the available gifts. If we don't try, we will never know. This requires availability and a willingness to learn our weaknesses as well as strengths.
5. Ability. Activity eventually points to ability. Don't be premature in your personal evaluation, because ability increases with practice. Be sensitive to areas of improvement. Look for opportunities within the community of believers of which you are a part, and seek the evaluation of mature believers who are familiar with your activities. Because of the danger of self-deception, spiritual gifts are best recognized by other members of the body.
6. Affirmation. The final affirmation of a spiritual gift is the blessing that should result from its exercise. As you use your gift or gift-combination in the power of the Spirit, God will confirm and establish you in your ministry, and there will continue to be positive feedback from those to whom you minister. It has been said that “desire may indicate it, ability will confirm it, and blessing will accompany it.”
Developing Your Spiritual Gifts
Having discovered your gift or combination of gifts, you are accountable to yourself, others, and God to develop and cultivate that which the Spirit has implanted within you. In The Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts, William McRae suggests that the gifts of the Spirit are developed in three ways:
1. By exercise. Like natural talents, spiritual gifts are developed by practice, not just by desire. Without regular exercise, they will suffer from atrophy. Continue to pursue opportunities and persevere in the use of your gifts. Small home groups may be the best “laboratory” for practicing and experiencing spiritual gifts, and you should consider joining or starting such a group in your church.
2. By evaluation. Be open to the evaluation and counsel of other believers. Periodically ask godly people to evaluate your ministry in terms of strengths, weaknesses, and ways to improve.
3. By education. More educational and developmental materials are available today than ever before. Take advantage of any books, classes, or tapes that can help you improve your God-given abilities.
Directions for Use
Here are four principles that should govern our use of spiritual gifts:
1. Remember that the Holy Spirit is the true dynamic behind the gifts. They must be exercised in dependence upon His power.
2. Spiritual gifts function best in the sphere of love, the “more excellent way” of 1 Corinthians 12:31. Paul placed his great description of love (1 Corinthians 13) right in the middle of the most extensive biblical passage on spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12—14). It is no accident that the two other major lists of spiritual gifts (Romans 12 and Ephesians 4) also include exhortations to love (see Romans 12:9-10; Ephesians 4:15-16).
3. In your ministry, concentrate your energy in productive areas. It is wise to maximize time in gift-related activities and minimize time in activities for which you are not suited.
4. On the other hand, Scripture commands all believers to perform certain ministries regardless of individual gifts. Ministry roles such as intercession, faith, service, helps, mercy, and giving are the responsibility of all believers, not just those who are specifically gifted in these areas. For example, some have the spiritual gift of evangelism, but all believers have a role of evangelism that corresponds to the opportunities they have been given.
Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth.
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