My husband has a huge box in the basement, filled with random cables, old phone chargers, bundles of old wire, etc. Every time we clean out the basement, I try to convince him to sort through that box and purge what is not needed, but he insists that he “might need it someday.” In reality, this box of cords is virtually useless. If I were to pull out one of those outdated chargers and tried to use it to charge my cell phone, it would absolutely not work. If the charger or cord is not right for the phone, it cannot do what it has been asked to do.
The same is true for spiritual gifts. There are several different ways our gifts can be misused, and when this happens, it is similar to what happens when the wrong cord is selected: we cannot reach our full potential.
The New Testament tells us that each spiritual gift is to be used to build up the body of Christ (1 Cor. 14:12). However, because this criterion is not always given adequate consideration, there are many examples of spiritual gifts being misused. Each gift, without exception can be misused if it is not applied to church development. However, the opposite is also true: every gift can be–and should be–used for the betterment and growth of the church.
Another pitfall of spiritual gifts is related to gift projection. Christian Schwarz suggests that, “Every Christian tends to project his or her gifts onto others” (The 3 Colors of Ministry, p. 97). For example, it cab be easy for those with the gift (say the gift of teaching) to not understand why others do not show the same gift. They may say, “It’s easy!” While it may be easy for them, those without that gifting will not feel the same.
Some people like to dodge responsibility by claiming “but that’s not my gift.” While it is important to find what your gifts are and use them appropriately, many use this as an excuse for inactivity. Additionally, some people simply do what they want instead of diving deep to find out in what areas they are really gifted. “‘Gift-oriented ministry does not mean ‘just doing what I want.’ Rather, it means allowing God to determine when and where He wants to use us” (The 3 Colors of Ministry, p. 98).
As you approach learning more and better utilizing your spiritual gifts, analyze if you fall prey any of these pitfalls. If so, take some time to think through ways of overcoming these challenges for glory of God and the betterment of His Kingdom.