Your Serve, Part 3
Discovering Your Purpose
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 26, 2005
Main Passage: Romans
During the reign of
Oliver Cromwell in Britain there was a shortage of silver to be used
for making coins. So he had his people examine all the available
options. Until finally, his advisors told him that most of the
available silver was in the Cathedrals. It was in the statues of the
saints. So Cromwell decided…
“Let’s melt down the saints and put them in circulation.”
~ Oliver Cromwell
Well, the truth is, whenever the Bible talks about saints, it’s talking
about Christians. Not a special class of Christians, just Christians in
general. You and I are called to be saints. And we need to be put into
circulation. We need to serving and meeting needs. That’s what ministry
is all about... providing a service in the name of Jesus.
Another term that tends to be misunderstood today is the term
“minister”. Who is a minister? If you ask most people on the street,
you’ll get one of two responses: “The leader of a church” or “a federal
politician.” Well, I am no politician, but I am the leader (pastor) of
a church. Does that make me a minister? No. What makes me a minister is
my relationship with Jesus Christ. Because all Christians are called to
be ministers. I hold the position of “pastor”, but we are all called to
be ministers. We are all called to minister to and serve others.
For the past two weeks we’ve been discussing this concept of
servanthood. First, we talked about why we should serve… we should
serve out of obedience, love, and to follow the example of Jesus, the
radical Servant. Second, we talked about how we should serve, and we
saw that we should serve with humility and the heart of a servant.
Today we’re going to finish up this series by addressing the question,
“Where?” Where should I serve? Where should I focus my time, my energy,
my resources? Where should I invest myself in ministry?
So to answer that, let me suggest to you three areas where you can and
should serve. We’ll spend most of our time on the first, and then cover
the next two fairly quickly. Okay? Let’s go. Where should I serve?
Where Should I Serve?
1. Where I’m
The Bible talks about
things called spiritual gifts. Maybe you’ve heard of them. There are
one or two spiritual gifts that seem to get the most attention, but the
truth is that each and every gift is important… every gift is critical…
to the health and growth of the Church.
And it’s important for you to know specifically what your gifts are.
Why? Because that will give you a glimpse at what God’s will is for
your life. God has gifted you so that you can accomplish your purpose
in life. He’s pretty smart that way. In the Bible in Romans 12 verse 2,
it talks about how you can know God’s will for your life, and then it
goes on to describe spiritual gifts. There’s a link between what God is
calling you to do and how He has equipped you. So this is an important
discussion we’re having today. Check this out…
Romans 12:6-8 (NLT)
God has given each of us the ability to do
certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy,
speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your
gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher,
do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it!
If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership
ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for
showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
It seems pretty clear, at last to me, that if God has given you a
specific gift He has given it to you for a reason. He intends for you
to use it.
1 Timothy 4:14 (NLT)
Do not neglect the spiritual gift you
1 Corinthians 12:1 (NIV)
Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do
not want you to be ignorant.
So spiritual gifts are important. But what are they? Let me define for
you what spiritual gifts are…
are Spiritual Gifts?
Gifts are SPECIAL ABILITIES
They are abilities God has given to us to make our own unique
1 Corinthians 12:6 (NLT)
God has given each of us the ability
to do certain things well.
by the HOLY SPIRIT
Spiritual Gifts are given to us by the Holy Spirit to be used in
meaningful service. It’s not up to us which gifts we receive… it’s up
to Him to distribute the gifts as he sees fit according to His wisdom.
Therefore, there is no right or wrong spiritual gift, and every gift is
important because it was given by the Holy Spirit for a reason.
1 Corinthians 12:11 (NLT)
It is the one and only Holy Spirit who
distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should
every BELIEVER according to God’s DESIGN and GRACE
Every believer is a minister and has at least one Spiritual Gift. If
you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life, then you have a
spiritual gift. You may not have discovered it yet, but you have at
least one spiritual gift.
1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)
God has given gifts to each of you
from his great variety of spiritual gifts.
the COMMON GOOD of the Body of Christ.
The Spiritual Gifts that God gives us allow us to serve each other
better, to meet needs, and to build up the church in love and unity.
They’re for the common good of everyone in the church, not just for
personal enjoyment. Therefore, if you neglect your gift and refuse to
use it, the entire Church suffers the loss.
1 Corinthians 12:7 (NLT)
A spiritual gift is given to each of
us as a means of helping the entire church.
So you put the whole
thing together and you have…
"Spiritual Gifts are SPECIAL ABILITIES distributed by the HOLY SPIRIT
to every BELIEVER according to God’s DESIGN and GRACE for the COMMON
GOOD of the Body of Christ." (Definition by Bruce Bugbee in Network)
That’s a pretty thorough definition of what a spiritual gift is. But
what specific kinds of spiritual gifts are there? What special
abilities does the Bible identify as spiritual gifts?
Well, there is no one specific passage of Scripture that lists all of
the spiritual gifts. But pulling from a variety of passages, here’s a
Spiritual Gifts Are There?
(List compiled from
Exodus 31:3, Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, Ephesians 4:11-13,
and 1 Peter 4:9)
Administration, Faith, Languages/Tongues, Shepherding/Pastoring,
Apostleship, Giving, Leadership, Teaching, Craftsmanship, Healing,
Mercy, Translation/Interpretation, Discernment, Helps, Miracles,
Wisdom, Encouragement, Hospitality, Prophecy, Evangelism, Knowledge,
We don’t have the time to go through each and every one and describe it
in detail this morning. We get more into it during CLASS 301 which
we’ll be offering again next fall, so you can plan to be a part of
that, and in a little while I’m going to give you a website where you
can go and download a list of these gifts along with a description of
But just for fun, let’s try this. Let me read for you a description of
a spiritual gift, and from the list in your notes you tell me which
gift I’m describing. In fact, let’s do it this way: I’ll give you the
definitions, you write down someplace on your notes what gifts you
think those are… maybe put a number beside the gift you think it is…
and then we’ll go back and see how you did. Okay?
ability to build up those who are discouraged in their faith (Romans
ability to minister cheerfully and appropriately to people who are
suffering (Romans 12:8). [Mercy]
ability to care for people by providing fellowship, food, and shelter
(1 Peter 4:9). [Hospitality]
ability to understand, clearly explain, and apply the Word of God to
the lives of listeners (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians
ability to facilitate ministry by constructing necessary tools (Exodus
ability to provide vision, motivation, and direction for people doing
the work of the ministry (Romans 12:8). [Leadership]
Okay, how’d you do?
Let’s move on… The big
question in regards to spiritual gifts is…
Do I Discover My Spiritual Gifts?
God has given you at
least one spiritual gift. We’ve already determined that. But what gift
did He give you? I mean, He probably didn’t leave you a note or send
you an email telling you what gift He gave you. So how do you discover
what gift or gifts He has given you? Well, there are four ways that you
can discern how God has equipped you with spiritual gifts…
The fact is, you’re not going to know how you’re gifted until you take
the opportunity to experiment in different areas of ministry and see
what you’re good at and what you enjoy. Because that’s really the test
of a spiritual gift… are you effective and are you fulfilled? Do you
experience joy and success?
Again, are you effective and fulfilled? Do you enjoy it? Do you see
results? Look inside… what does your gut tell you?
feedback from others
Other people get a pretty good idea of what you’re good at. They can
tell you where you’re gifted. A month or so ago, Chris MacMillan
emailed me from Calgary to ask for some input about his spiritual
gifts. He was taking a course to help him discern his gifts, and part
of that course was asking for the observations of others. And after I
told him what gifts I thought he had, he emailed me back and said they
were pretty consistent with what he was discovering on his own. So go
ahead and ask for someone to give you some feedback. And when they do,
don’t be insulted and don’t get mad at them. They’re doing you a favour
in clarifying how God has gifted you, and there are no right or wrong
spiritual gifts anyway.
There are such things as gift tests. Typically, they are composed of a
series of questions that you read and rate how you feel they apply to
you, and then you add up all the numbers and figure out what gifts you
seem to have. Now, the thing about these tests is that they basically
clarify what you’ve already discovered. If you’ve never experimented in
different ministries and you’ve never observed what you enjoy and seem
to be good at and if you’ve never listened to what others have to
contribute, then chances are a gift test isn’t going to do you much
good. I happen to like gift tests and think they can provide some
valuable insights, but by itself it’s really not going to help much.
That’s why I listed it fourth.
Now, if you do want to try a gift test, then here are a couple of
opportunities for you. First, our third Christian Life And Service
Seminar, CLASS 301, includes a discussion of spiritual gifts and a gift
test. As I mentioned earlier, we will be conduction the CLASSes again
beginning this fall. But if you can’t wait until then, I have posted a
gift discovery test online at the address mentioned in your notes. You
can download it and complete it for yourself. And if you do that,
please let me know the results.
So where should I serve?
I should serve where I’m gifted. That’s just common sense. Secondly, I
2. Where I’m
Like spiritual gifts, a
passion is something that is God-given. That passion drives you and
compels you to make a difference in a particular ministry. You are
passionate about the purpose God has given you. It’s the beat of your
heart. It’s the focus of your mind.
Romans 12:2 (NLT)
…let God transform you into a new person by
changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to
do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really
It’s God’s design that each of us cares more for some things than
others. And we don’t all care about the same things. God gives each of
us a passion according to His plan and purpose for our lives. So what
do you find yourself lying awake at night thinking about? What do you
daydream about while driving down the highway? What thoughts of
ministry preoccupy your mind? That’s your passion.
Isn’t it true there are some things you love to do and there are some
things you just hate to do? That’s your passion. That’s your heart.
Where did you get that inclination? God put it in you. Contrary to
popular opinion, God wants your ministry to be a blessing, not a
burden. He doesn’t want to call you to do something you’re going to
hate. So He gives you a deep desire to accomplish His will. So it’s a
legitimate question to ask yourself, “What do I love to do?” Why would
God give you a ministry that He hasn’t given you a heart for? He
can be for…
Maybe for the homeless, maybe for troubled teens, maybe for caring for
the elderly, maybe helping single mothers.
Maybe for speaking against abortion, maybe defending marriage, maybe
reaching the lost, maybe addressing domestic violence, maybe building
Maybe teaching and educating people, maybe organizing special events,
maybe providing an atmosphere for ministry to flourish, maybe showing
comfort and mercy to those who have lost a loved one, maybe preaching
and proclaiming the truth of God’s Word.
You should serve in
ministry primarily in areas where you are gifted and where you are
passionate. That is the theoretical ideal. But the reality is,
sometimes you do need to serve in areas where you are neither gifted
nor passionate. That should never become the norm, but it will be the
occasional reality. That’s the third area where you should serve…
3. Where I’m
God designed the church
as the Body of Christ, with each of us having a very special role to
play. We have each been equipped with spiritual gifts and with a
passion to fulfill our specific ministry. And when every part of the
Body of Christ is functioning and fulfilling his or her purpose, it can
be a beautiful thing and the effectiveness of the Church would be
But there are a couple of facts that alter that picture a bit. First,
the sad reality is that many people don’t understand their spiritual
gift and have never identified their passion. Or maybe they just don’t
care. They neglect their gift, and therefore the church goes without.
So unless someone steps in to fill in the vacancy, their area of
ministry goes unfulfilled.
And second, sometimes things just happen. Emergencies arise. And we
need to step in to meet immediate needs.
Titus 3:14 (NLT)
For our people should not have unproductive
lives. They must learn to do good by helping others who have urgent
Just because I’m not gifted in an area doesn’t mean that I don’t have
periodic responsibilities in those areas. Let’s say I don’t have the
gift of mercy and I see somebody fall down. I can’t say “It’s not my
gift to go help them.” Or how about the Tsunami victims in Asia? Back
in January, several of you donated financially to meet the need. Does
that mean we all have the gift of giving? No, but we all recognized
that we had a role to fill in meeting the immediate need. In your notes…
So here’s what I want
you to do. If you’re already familiar with spiritual gifts and you’ve
already identified yours, then ask yourself if you’re really using them
the way God intended. If you are, great. If not, what will you do to
put them into practice in ministry?
If you’re not all that familiar with spiritual gifts and you’ve never
identified yours, I want you to go home this afternoon and look through
the list of gifts found on your notes. Consider which gift you might
have. And remember, you may have one, or you may have two, three, four,
or maybe more. Some of you are multi-gifted.
Perhaps go to your computer and download the gift test that I mentioned
earlier. Complete it, figure out the results, and let me know what you
And most importantly, start using that gift in regular ministry. Get
involved. Look for opportunities to use your gift in accordance with
your passion. Talk with me or other ministry leaders about getting
And don’t neglect those times when you simply need to step in and serve
because there’s a need. Together, we are the Body of Christ. We are the
church. Can you imagine a church where everyone is using his or her
spiritual gift in meaningful service in areas where they are
passionate, where needs are being met and people are growing in their
faith? Where leaders are leading and givers are giving and teachers are
teaching and servers are serving and helpers are helping and
administers are administrating? We would be a Biblically functioning
community of believers, glorifying God and edifying each other. That’s
the church I want to be a part of. As Paul wrote…
Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)
Under his direction, the whole body is
fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it
helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and
growing and full of love.