"We Are Family" part 3:
Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
March 18, 2007

 

Main Passage: 1 Peter 4:8-11 (NLT)

 

Last week we began a discussion about spiritual gifts. I know some of you were in the dark about spiritual gifts beforehand. And all of us were in the dark during the discussion. [The power went out during the service last week.] But then it was as if the lights came on.

We talked last week about what spiritual gifts are. And we discovered this definition…
 

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.
 

And we saw that there’s a variety of spiritual gifts. The gifts listed in the Bible include…

Administration
Apostleship
Craftsmanship
Discernment
Encouragement
Evangelism
Faith
Giving
Healing
Helps
Hospitality
Knowledge
Languages/Tongues
Leadership
Mercy
Miracles
Prophecy
Serving
Shepherding/Pastoring
Teaching
Translation
Wisdom

So we saw that every Christ-follower has at least one spiritual gift. We’re all unique. We’re given different spiritual gifts that compliment our passions and our natural talents and our personality and our experiences, and God blends all of that together to equip us to make a unique contribution to His Body… our spiritual family… the Church.

We’re all unique. We’re all equipped differently. We have different gifts, we serve in different ways, but it’s the same God we’re serving and He oversees us all and He unifies us with a common purpose. And so despite there being great diversity within His Body, the Church… we can have great unity.


So that’s basically what we talked about last week. Today, what I want to do is this… We’re going to cover three threes. I’m going to…

Give you three characteristics of Spiritual Gifts
Suggest to you three ways that you can discover what your gifts are
Offer you three warnings about Spiritual Gifts

 

Characteristics of Spiritual Gifts:

There is no right or wrong Spiritual Gift

Remember, they are given by God. And He’s pretty smart. He doesn’t make mistakes. You have exactly the gifts you were meant to have.

1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.

There is no right or wrong spiritual gift, so whatever gift you’ve received you should use to serve others.

 

Spiritual Gifts are meant to glorify God and edify others

If you want to know what spiritual gifts are for, there it is right there. To glorify God and edify others. Going back to that passage in 1 Peter…

1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms… So that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

So Spiritual Gifts are meant to glorify God and edify others.

 

When using your Spiritual Gift, you will be effective and fulfilled

And that’s a great indicator of what your spiritual gifts are. Are you effective in what you’re doing? Are you fulfilled? If not, then perhaps you’re not gifted in that area.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)
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.

So if you’re really using your spiritual gifts, you’re going to see positive results.

 

How to Identify Your Spiritual Gifts:

Experiment in different areas of ministry

How do you know if you’re gifted at something if you never try it? So I would say the greatest way to identify your gifts is by trial and error. Experiment in different areas of ministry… see what you’re good at… find out what you enjoy… are you effective and fulfilled?

You know, there’s no shame in trying something and finding out you’re no good at it. Remember, there is no right or wrong spiritual gift. And so if you take a risk and try something only to discover that you’re not gifted in that way, then there’s no reason to be embarrassed. In fact, it’s a reason to celebrate because you’ve just learned a little bit more about how God put you together.

How do you find out if you can teach if you never try teaching? How do you find out if you’re gifted at leadership if you never lead anything? How do you know if you have the gift of hospitality if you never hospitalize anyone? Okay, maybe that’s not how that one works. But the point is, you’ve got to experiment to discover where you’re gifted.

Make sense? Okay, let’s see how this works. Let’s just take one ministry as an example. Our LIFE Groups. What kinds of gifts can be used in our LIFE Groups? Actually, almost all of them.

Hospitality. You can host a group yourself in your home. Or the group could actually be in someone else’s home but you can still serve as the host. Obviously, you should coordinate that with the owner so you don’t offend them, but you know what I mean? You can show up early, you can set things up, you can make sure everyone’s comfortable during the meeting… that kind of thing.

How about shepherding or pastoring? Well, that’s all about overseeing the spiritual development of a small group of believers, and so the small group leader is in a great position to experiment with that gift.

Or a LIFE Group leader may try using the gift of teaching. Or leadership. Or knowledge. In fact, members of the group who aren’t necessarily the group leader may try out those gifts, too.

Maybe there’s someone in the group who’s hurting. What a great opportunity to try some mercy. Or perhaps healing. Or encouragement.

Maybe you have the gift of helps or the gift of serving, and so you just fill in wherever you’re needed.

Within the context of a group meeting is a great opportunity to use gifts of wisdom or prophecy or faith or prayer or discernment.

Or if you start a brand new group, you might see the gift of apostleship in action. Remember what the apostles did? They travelled around and started new groups of believers.

So as you can see, just within the context of our LIFE Groups, there’s a whole array of opportunities to experiment and utilize spiritual gifts.


Another suggestion, if you want to identify your spiritual gifts…

 

Ask others what they’ve observed in you

But if you do that, be sure to give them permission to be honest.

You know how when you go to the optometrist, they get you to look through those huge glasses (optical refractor also called a phoropter) and they keep changing lenses on you? What do they ask? “Which is better: A or B?”

Well, maybe that’s the way to go about asking other people for their advice. “Am I better at teaching or encouraging? Am I better at administration or at giving?” And when they answer, don’t be offended. Thank them for being honest and for helping you understand yourself a little bit better.


And a third suggestion if you want to identify your spiritual gifts is…

 

Make use of gift tests

Generally, with a gift test (also called a gift discovery), you’re given a whole list of statements… maybe 80 or 100 or 120 statements… and you read each one and rate how true that is of you. And so you give each statement a value. If the statement’s not true of you at all, then you’d give it a value of 0. If it’s completely true of you, then you’d give it the top value, whatever the scale is… And you’d enter that value onto a grid.

And then when you’ve done that with every statement, you’d have to do a little bit of math. Say there were four statements that dealt with the gift of Craftsmanship. You’d add those four values together. And you’d do that with every gift. And whatever gifts come out with the top values, that may be an indicator that those are your spiritual gifts.

Now, I like gift tests and I’ve used them a lot over the years. But there is a danger with them. You might take a test and figure out what the top gifts are and accept that those are your gifts, but maybe you’ve never experimented with some of the other gifts so you don’t really know if you rated those statements accurately. And so I want to make clear that a gift test is only an indicator of what your gifts may be. It’s not a conclusive test, it’s just an indicator.

Plus, I think your gifts may change for different seasons of your life, depending on what God has called you to do. I didn’t used to believe that… I used to think that once you have your gift or your gift-mix, that was it. And that defined your ministry for life. But it seems to me that God’s work in our lives is ongoing, and it’s ever-changing. And so the gifts we have may change over time, as well.

Plus, 1 Corinthians 12 tells us…

1 Corinthians 12:31 (NLT)
So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.

Which tells me that God may change your gifts or at least add to them as you grow and seek His will for your life.

Now, with that said, if you want to make use of a gift test you can find one at this website…

www.SunriseOnline.ca/downloads/gifttest.zip


Now, as we finish up this discussion about spiritual gifts, I want to give you just a few warnings…

 

Warnings about Spiritual Gifts:

Avoid Gift-projection

This is where you expect everyone to be just like you, and so you project your gifts on others. Say you’re gifted at giving. And so you give well and beyond your tithe of 10%. And you really enjoy it. You give to the church, you give to those in need… and you wonder what’s wrong with everyone else. Why don’t they give like you give? Could I suggest that it might be because you have the gift of giving and they don’t? But then, they’re gifted in another way. And God’s going to hold each of us accountable for using the gifts He’s given us, not the ones He hasn’t.

 

Beware of gift-envy

Maybe someone’s gifted at leadership, and so they have an influence over others and people listen to them and people follow them. They get all kinds of things done and they’re respected and they’re given recognition publicly. But say your gift is helps, and so much of what you do is in the background and goes unnoticed. How do you respond?

Well, you could become envious. You could become resentful that you don’t have such a flashy gift that gets you recognized. But look at what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12…

1 Corinthians 12:22-23, 27 (NLT)
…Some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care… All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

So whether you’re gifts are more visible or more behind-the-scenes, you are a necessary part of the Body of Christ.

 

Don’t abdicate ministry responsibilities

Don’t ignore or dismiss ministry just because you’re not gifted in that area. Because we all have to operate outside of our gifts from time to time.

Now, most of our ministry should reflect our giftedness. But things will come up… needs will arise… and you may need to operate outside of your giftedness for a time.

Let me give you an example. Let me read a story Jesus told in Luke 10…

Luke 10:30-34 (NLT)
“A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
“By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.”

That’s the story of the Good Samaritan. And we normally praise the Samaritan for taking care of the Jewish guy who had been beaten up. And we use the priest and the Temple assistant as examples of what not to do.

But think about it. Maybe the Samaritan had the gift of mercy. And so it just made sense that he’d use that gift. But the priest… maybe he was gifted at administration. And maybe the temple assistant was gifted at understanding foreign languages. Can they really be held accountable for not helping the guy who had been robbed?

Of course they can! They may not have had the gift of mercy, but they certainly had a responsibility to help out however they could.

Sometimes we have to fill roles and operate outside of our giftedness. Sometimes there are ministry needs where we just help out as best we can for a time because we’re needed there. We may not be gifted, but we’re needed. And that’s okay. We can do that… for short periods of time.

It should never become the norm, but it can happen occasionally for short periods of time.

 

[Much of this message adapted from “Network” by Bruce Bugbee]

 

 

 

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