Theodore was the kind of church member who attended church every week, occasionally stayed for a fellowship meal, but mostly kept his distance from investing in his church. He never served in any ministry and never got to know any of the church members. 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!”
Discovering Your Gifts
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 have examined different aspects of spiritual giftedness. Yet, perhaps you are currently at square one, questioning what gifts you even possess. In his book The 3 Colors of Ministry, Christian A. Schwarz (2001) discusses seven steps to help you get the process started.
1. Open your heart to God in prayer. When you talk 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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” (Schwarz, 2001, p. 59).
5. 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” (Schwarz, 2001, p. 61).
6. 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.
7. 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.
Many churches already have a mechanism in place that can help you discover your gifts. Another helpful resource to determining your spiritual gifts is the Natural Church Development Gift test. (A good resource for determining your spiritual gifts is the Three-Color Gift Test, found on pages 65-76 of The 3 Colors of Ministry or the NCD Gift Test, and is also found online.) 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.
Training Your Gifts
Once you discover your spiritual gifts, it is important that to continually grow those spiritual gifts by using them in ministry. Just because we have been given specific gifts doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement. In fact, Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:6 that we should, “fan into flame the gift of God” (ESV); that is, we should always be working to grow our gifts to their full potential.
What are some ways that you can grow your gifts? Here are a few quick ideas:
- Participate in training sessions or seminars that will equip you.
- Gain further experience by doing ministry in harmony with your gifts.
- Accept and learn from the constructive criticism of others.
- Pray that God will reveal growth opportunities to you.
- Allow God to constantly shape and change you.
It is also important to remain open to additional spiritual gifts. Discovering our spiritual gifts is a life-long process; we must remain open to the possibility that God will give/reveal new gifts to us as we continue our relationship with Him. Isn’t it exciting to think that we may yet have untapped potential, no matter our age or stage in life?
If you have yet to discover your spiritual gifts, the time is now! God has great plans for you and desires for you to know and understand your gifts.
Schwarz, C. A. (2001). The 3 colors of ministry. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources.