I remember watching a movie once, which depicted a family opening gifts together on Christmas Eve. They were circled around their Christmas tree, the kids eagerly tearing paper off of presents, holiday music playing in the background–you know, the quintessential holiday movie scene.
As the husband passed out gifts to the children, the wife rummaged around the tree, as if looking for something specific. She finally found what she was looking for and held up a small box. She tore into it with a smile, clearly expecting to find that one thing for which she had been longing. However, upon removing the wrapping, she discovered that the gift was not what she thought it was. She was devastated and stepped from the room in disappointment.
Have you ever been disappointed with God because of a gift that you do not have?
Discovering What Gifts You Don’t Have
Each Christian has his or her unique, special mix of spiritual gifts. Part of the journey of discovering our gifts is discovering which gifts we don’t have. Christian A. Schwarz (2001) writes in his book The 3 Colors of Ministry, “Each time I discover a gift I don’t have is a cause to celebrate.” Why? Because narrowing down our gifts allows us to more clearly focus on the gifts we do possess and incorporate them into our ministry.
Additionally, when we become aware of the gifts we do–and don’t–possess, we learn to work more closely with other Christians who have those gifts. Just as each part of the body must work together to function wholly, the body of Christ must do the same. Our personal gift mix makes us each unique and thus able to serve the body in our own special way.
My small group is hosted by a couple that has two young children. Each week, this couple joyfully opens up their home to our group, providing food, fellowship, and leading out in a meaningful Bible study-discussion; it is clear the Lord has given this couple the gift of hospitality.
There is another family in our group who has small children, but the wife is fairly introverted and cannot handle the thought of having people come to her home every week. However, she and her husband are gifted musically (a gift that the host couple do not have); this duo gladly leads the small group in praise and worship each time they meet.
Is it bad that the host couple is not gifted musically and cannot lead out in music, as well as a Bible study? No! Is it bad that the second couple does not open their home every week for small group? No! This is a simple example of how God gifts us each differently and then uses our unique gifts to benefit His kingdom.
God Will Equip You
I once served at a church with a booming population of “little people.” Each week, the children’s ministry was filled to the max, but there never seemed like enough workers to help. The Kid’s Ministry leader once confessed, “I told my husband that I need him to help out with the kids, but he told me he doesn’t ‘feel called’ and ‘isn’t good with kids.’ It’s not that hard–we just need a body in the room!”
Unfortunately, this is the way that many people view serving. It is as if they perceive that God enjoys calling them to tasks that in no ways correspond with their gifting. However, when we examine what the Bible tells us, we can see that that is not the case.
God does not call us to tasks for which He has not prepared us and for which He has not given us the gifts to tackle. If you have been given a spiritual gift but do not use it, you are just like the servant in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14–30) that was given a talent, only to bury it in the ground. This was clearly not the idea his master had when he gave the talent, just as God does not wish us to underutilize the spiritual gifts when He has given us.
Instead, we should seek to grow our spiritual gifts, just as the “good and faithful servants” in the parable invested and grew the talents that they had been given by their master. Determining our spiritual gifts and utilizing them are important steps toward determining our life’s calling.
The Importance of Feedback
If you are feeling called to a certain ministry or feel that you have a certain gift, it is important to determine if you actually possess that gift. One good way to do this is by getting feedback from others, specifically from trusted, Godly mentors. In an interview with the Journal of Applied Christian Leadership, Ron Whitehead, Director of the Center for Youth Evangelism, states:
Find your passion, but take counsel from people who possess wisdom, from those whose opinion you value to make sure that your passion is something you can accomplish. You have to be sure your passion matches your gifts. If you can find your passion and other validate that you have the calling and spiritual gifts to accomplish that passion . . . when those two line up with your personal connection with God, the sky is the limit.
If you feel discouraged because you are not gifted in a certain area or because you feel you are working in an area that does not align with your gifts, perhaps it is time to rewire your thinking. Focus on using the gifts you know you have and apply them according to God’s will to your ministry. Remember: “. . . each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Corinthians 7:7, ESV).
Cincala, P. (2019). Reaching the next generation of leaders: Interview with Ron Whitehead. Journal of Applied Christian Leadership, 13(1), 16–23.
Schwarz, C. A. (2001). The 3 colors of ministry. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources.