We are all given specific gifts when we surrender our lives to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11tells us the Spirit fills believers with such gifts as wisdom, knowledge, faith or even healing. Each of us are unique in what we are given so that we might, together with the body of Christ, bless and serve others while being a light to the world.
But how do you recognize your gifts if you are having trouble identifying or using those gifts? Or perhaps you know your gifts, but don’t know where to apply them?
Here 8 ways to help you identify and develop your spiritual gifts:
1. Take an inventory:
A good place to start is by asking other believers what qualities they see in you. It’s very likely they have recognized God-given abilities that you have not recognized in yourself. Sometimes you might be unaware of your qualities simply because they haven’t been named. Reflection and prayer, and council from others can help you identify your gifts. Look for places where your interests peak, where you become alive, where God has given you energy to give.
Christian publishers also offer great resources online, or hardcopy books or booklets to help you identify your spiritual gifts. Ask those in your church to help you find a copy. Take time to reflect on the questions, such as those in the online link above, then answer them as honestly as possible. Once you figure out your gifts don’t just toss it aside. Reflect on places where you use your gifts most often. Strive to be sure to use them as often as possible.
2. Have your community affirm them:
Ask the people in your faith community, whether a small group or other community, if they also recognize these gifts in you. These people should know you better than most other people within the church. Take time and ask them to affirm your gifts. This is a great step for everyone in your group to take. If they can’t figure out your gifts, take some time to pray as a group and have the Holy Spirit help you identify gifts. To pay back your group, you can identify their gifts for them as well.
3. Practice them:
Simple, I know, but so true. How will you know you have a gift if you don’t use it? For those who know what your gifts are, find your place within the church body and serve. Although at times you may be asked to serve in an area that is not your passion, it’s possible to serve anyway and bring your passion to your work. You have permission though, to continue to look for the places where your passion comes alive.
If you are not serving currently, find out a list of the ministries in your church. Which ministries jump out at you as areas of interest? More than likely, your heart will leap when you come across the name of a ministry that resonates with what God has chosen to put on your heart.
4. Test them:
In our church plant, we had a small enough number of people that allowed us to let people test the spiritual gifts they thought they had—including preaching. Whether some did or didn’t have this gift, I’m glad we nurtured people’s gifts and helped them discover in a safe, positive environment.
The church is the best outlet for your gifts. Talk to your pastor about places where you can test your gift. For example, if you have the gift of hospitality but don’t know where or how you would practice hospitality, ask your pastor if there are places to display your gift: Is there a potluck your church is planning? Can you make food or set up tables for the event? Can you be a part of making people feel welcome when they visit your church?
Hospitality isn’t just about greeting people or having them over for dinner. It is the practice and ability to make people feel welcome. Do your best to do that and you will quickly learn whether this kind of service drains you or energizes you.
5. Serve with them:
It’s easy to slide into believing that church is only a place to be served a good sermon, and then leave. The picture the Bible gives us for God’s church is much more than that. Rather than a buffet, where you get your fill and then leave, church is intended to be more like a potluck dinner, where everyone brings something to the table that can bless another.
Take a moment and God if He will reveal a way for you to connect with the church through your gifts. Then talk to the ministry leader to find out if they have a way for you to serve with them. Be careful to follow the necessary policies in place, respecting the leadership and working as you would work for the Lord. What you do in service or work is a form of worship.
6. Analyze them:
Think about the gifts that give you the most joy. Sometimes this is a great indicator of what your gifts are. Just as the Holy Spirit gives us gifts as He chooses, our natural leanings can be a help in finding out how God has wired us. God knit us in our mothers’ wombs. Therefore, He knows what gifts He will give before he gives them. With our gifts of wisdom and discernment sometimes it takes only an inclination to know how God has gifted us.
7. Praise God for them:
So often we take for granted all that God has blessed us with—including our gifts. During your next prayer time, whether in secret or in church, praise God and acknowledge those gifts. Name them in your prayer. Take the time to thank God for each and every one. Allow your church to add to that list if they can identify other gifts you may not be aware you possess. It is always encouraging when someone identifies and encourage you to act within your gift set.
8. Bless people with them:
In addition to serving in a church setting, brainstorm ways you can bless others with them. For example, I teach Christians through my gift of writing. I like to bless people by writing friends and family personal notes just to tell them I love them. Since it is rare to receive any sort of handwritten letter in the mail, this is a great reminder to people that I am thinking of them and am blessed by their presence in my life. If I can bless people with this gift, I may not receive any earthly blessing, but I am storing up treasures in heaven because of it.
Spiritual gifts are just that—gifts. We did nothing to earn them. As with any gift, what good is it if you don’t use it? By practicing some of these principles, you will not only bless your church, friends and family, but you glorify the God who gave them to you, and find blessing for yourself as well.
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children’s Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author’s Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.