Theodore was the kind of church member who attended church every week, stayed for the fellowship meal, and then promptly left. He never invested in any ministry, never got to really know any of its members; he didn’t even stay to help with the dishes at the end of the meal. Any time there was a job to be done, he simply assumed, “Someone else will do it.”
One week, Theodore’s pastor stopped him after church. “Theodore,” his pastor said. “I’ve noticed you’ve been coming here for a few years now, and I was wondering if you’d like to get more involved. We have a lot of areas of need right now. Are there any areas in which you’d like to serve? Or any areas in which you feel you’ve been gifted?”
Theodore “hemmed” and “hawed,” but finally admitted: “Pastor, I don’t even know what I’m good at!”
Research conducted by NCD International has found that only about half (51.5%) of people who complete the survey are aware of their spiritual gifts and feel that those gifts are utilized properly in their church. That means that the remaining 48.5% are either unaware of their gifts or are involved in the wrong ministries.
Our last few blogs (found here, here, and here) have discussed different aspects of spiritual giftedness. Yet, perhaps you are at square one, questioning where to start in even determining your gifts. In his book The 3 Colors of Ministry, Christian A. Schwarz discusses seven steps to help you get the process started.
- Open your heart to God in prayer. Schwarz writes, “When you are talking to God, open yourself up to Him in such a way that He is able to do more than just confirm what you already know. Only through spiritual openness will you be able to make new spiritual discoveries.”
- Be ready to apply your gifts. Gifts are always given to us so that we can serve others. If you are gifted in a certain way, be bold! Use that gift for the betterment of your church body, all to the glory of God.
- Get informed. If you don’t know what spiritual gifts even exist, it will be impossible for you to determine where your gifts are. Studying what the Bible says about spiritual gifts is a great place to start.
- Begin with what you enjoy. “It is quite normal that putting your gifts into action brings you joy. Those with the gift of evangelism enjoy helping others come to faith. Those with the gift of hospitality enjoy taking guests into their homes. Those with the gift of service enjoy performing even those tasks that are not highly visible, as long as it builds up the church” (The 3 Colors of Ministry, p. 59).
- Experiment as much as possible. If you aren’t sure if you have a specific gift, try on the gift and see how it fits. “If you aren’t adventurous and willing to experiment, it is unlikely that you’re going to track down your spiritual gift” (The 3 Colors of Ministry, p. 61).
- Verify your effectiveness. God has given us spiritual gifts to produce results. When experimenting with your gifts, determine if you are effective in different areas. If you are effective, it is very likely that this is an area in which you are gifted. If you aren’t effective, it’s time to try something else.
- Seek the opinion of others. When you feel you have determined your gifts by following the steps above, check in with a trusted friend or mentor. Ask them to evaluate and/or confirm the gifts you have determined you possess. These mentors can provide powerful insights on the topic.
Additionally, many churches already have a mechanism in place that can help you discover your gifts. Once your gifts have been discovered, such programs may be able to help you “plug in” to ministries that are in need of your specific gifts. Another helpful resource to determining your spiritual gifts is the NCD Gift test. You can take this assessment online here.
Don’t be like Theodore, who didn’t serve because he didn’t know his own strengths. Seek to find your gifts…then use them!