It’s Not My Spiritual Gift!
Reconsidering the Role of Spiritual Gifts in Church Ministry
Recruiting volunteers for church ministry is a common challenge for church leaders. It’s not unusual to hear in response to a request to serve in an area of need “It’s not my spiritual gift.”
Spiritual gifts are the abilities given by Jesus to His church to equip them for church ministry.
Spiritual gifts inventories are a common tool used by church leaders to help people identify what spiritual gifts they’ve been given. These self-assessments are similar to popular personality tests which guide a person through a list of questions and use the responses to present the person with a personality profile. The personality tests enable a person to confidently say such things as “I’m an introvert!” or “I’m phlegmatic!” Likewise, people who complete a spiritual gifts inventory are presented with a spiritual gifts profile. Afterward, they can confidently proclaim their gift, such as, “I’m a helper!” or “I’m an administrator!’
It’s hard for me to imagine members of the original Christian churches going through such an exercise. It’s easier to imagine the revelation of one’s spiritual gifts as a spiritual experience unfolding from one’s humble conversations with God.
I imagine that in the aftermath of Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus that he went through an experience of God revealing to him his spiritual gifts. Before Saul’s encounter with Jesus, he believed he was doing God’s work. In his transformation from Saul to Paul he discovered God’s true calling and received the spiritual gifts needed to what God called him to do.
The Apostle Paul appeals in his letter to the first Christian church in Ephesus to receive spiritual gifts from Jesus in response to the power of the Gospel working in their lives. Called to citizenship in the Kingdom of God, spiritual gifts are a benefit of belonging to the family of God.
In Ephesians 4:11, Paul describes Jesus as giving spiritual gifts to equip and build up the church for ministry. As the church engages in Spirit-led and Spirit-powered ministry, they unite into a mature representation of Jesus Christ to the world.
Many church families are split by independent-minded influencers who press their own agendas onto people. Many of these people are well-meaning but driven by the wrong spirit. Their emphasis is on being right instead of receiving and offering the transformative gift of Christ’s righteousness. Others with selfish intentions act in partnership with evil forces to gain admiration and exercise influence over unsuspecting people.
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Self-sacrificing, charitable love is the uniting principle and power of God’s church. God’s kingdom is built on a culture of interdependence described by Paul as the body of Christ where the success of each person is supported by a mutual system of generous giving of oneself to enable another to accomplish God’s mission to shine the light Jesus into the lives of people lost in darkness. This is the purpose and power of spiritual gifts.
Your role as a citizen of God’s kingdom is to humbly seek out God’s purpose for you and to receive the power Jesus will give you to empower the people around you to live out God’s purpose in their lives.