I have been studying this topic in Bible school, asking hard questions and delving into the unique ways God has equipped me to further His kingdom. Though I usually think of something spectacular and special whenever I consider spiritual gifts, I know that Paul wrote about them to believers like you and me. Just because you've never spoken in tongues, performed a miraculous healing, or proclaimed a prophecy doesn't mean that you don't have a gift of the Holy Spirit! But how do you know which one you have?
As Mary Kate explained on her post about what the Bible says about spiritual gifts, all of them come from God, and it is up to Him to choose which one each person receives. Unlike natural talents, spiritual gifts are not genetic. It's not something you inherit from your parents, it's just what it sounds like: a gift from the Holy Spirit to you. Isn't it great to know that if you are a Christian then you have a special ability straight from God? He knows what your future looks like and He knows how He created you, so this gift is absolutely perfect for you.
Here are some of the gifts mentioned in Scripture:
- Distinguishing between spirits
- Gifts of healing
- Interpretation of tongues
- Word of knowledge
- Word of wisdom
If you type "spiritual gift" into Google you'll come up with many tests, questionnaires, and analyses that will supposedly reveal the way God has equipped you to work for Him. These can be useful for determining your strengths--I just took one and found that I ranked high in hospitality, service, and giving--but is this an ironclad word from the Lord?
Not necessarily. I think that we have to be careful to not limit ourselves only to those areas where we appear to be gifted, because we might have a gift lying dormant, just waiting for the opportune moment to be recognized. Also, we might not be given a gift once and for all and never get another one. We can actually pursue some spiritual gifts rather than others (1 Corinthians 14). Something that test results might not take into consideration is that gifts need to be cultivated. If you have the gift of teaching, it's not guaranteed that at the moment of coming to faith in Christ you will become an absolutely fabulous teacher. You'll have to hone that gift just as you'd hone a natural talent.
So a test won't tell you everything, but there are other ways of discovering your gift. Here's a process that I would encourage you to follow with me as I stumble along this learning experience toward using my spiritual gifting:
- Look inside: Consider taking a test or inventory of your gifts.
- Read and pray: Dwell on the Word and talk with God to get an idea of His purpose for you.
- Ask others: See if someone else recognizes a gift in you.
- Don't focus on it: Stand strong in the knowledge that God has equipped you for His purposes, but don't get fixated on what your gift is. If you don't find out right now, have patience! It may not be the right time.
Whatever your gift is, I encourage you to embrace such an amazing life, such an adventure, such a mission, that you cannot do it without using everything God has given you.
Have you struggled with finding your spiritual gift?
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to discover theirs?