Spiritual gifts are not just natural talents, like athletic ability or a creative flare. Rather they are supernatural empowerments that the Holy Spirit gives to a believer to build up the body of Christ in ways that are impossible by mere human effort.
Whether you are in ministry, missions, or the marketplace, God intends for you to use your gifts for the good of others and the glory of God.
So today and over the next few weeks, we are going to talk about these spiritual gifts—how you can discover yours and how you can put them to work in your life.
First, we are going to break them all down and help you find yours but before we get started, I want to dispel some common misconceptions that we entertain, even if only in our own minds.
- Your gifts are God appointed, NOT man appointed. This is not Bloomingdales where you can pick the one you like best and go try it on. And no, you can’t exchange your gift. (1 Peter 4:10)
- You can’t lose your gift. You can abuse it, but you can’t lose it. How do we abuse it? In one of two ways, 1) by using it for the glory of self and 2) by not using it at all. (Romans 11:29)
- Your gift does not reflect your relationship with God. He does not favor those with one gift over another. We all receive our reward based on the use of our gifts. (Matthew 25:14-30)
- One gift is not better than another. (1 Corinthians 12)
And now, let’s talk about the spiritual gifts themselves. I’ll run through them first, then we’ll talk about them in detail.
Possible spiritual gifts include:
Interpretation of tongues
Before you get overwhelmed, we’re going to make this a little simpler by breaking them down into four categories: Influence, insight, serving, and strengthening.
Category #1: Influence*
- Leadership (Romans 12:8)
Leadership means to rule, preside, or stand over. A leader is one who has vision and gives direction and oversight. They are typically the visionary who appoints others to apply the details.
A person with a gift of leadership has a strong desire to help others grow and achieve their goals.
Under the leadership gifts, typically fall the 5 fold ministry gifts. We are going to discuss the 5 fold ministry gifts here, but please note that the gift of leadership is not limited to holding one of these offices. One can be a leader inside the church or a political position, or an organization
- Apostle (1 Cor 12:28)
Apostle means “one sent on a mission.” Apostles take the gospel to a new region or new people groups. They begin new works for the gospel. They are builders in the kingdom of God.
Apostles are not just people who have started more than one church. And they certainly are not self-appointed. In fact, I’d be pretty cautious of someone calling themselves an apostle.
- Pastor (Eph 4:11)
Pastors feed and shepherd God’s flock. They teach, encourage, and keep those in their care accountable. It reminds me of how Jesus is our ultimate pastor when he said the words, “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”
As a digression, this does not mean that we don’t need earthly pastors over us.
- Teacher (Eph 4:11-12)
A teacher is gifted at making sense of the word of God. They take a complex subject and make it simple. A teacher will enjoy spending a substantial amount of time in God’s word to be able to feed you. Their heart’s desire is to look at the Word and learn how they can convey it to others.
If you’ve ever been in school with a really bad teacher, you know how important a passion and a gift for teaching really is. Teachers have a heart for their subject matter as well as their students.
An evangelist is a soul winner. They are graced by God to bring forth a message that leads others to Jesus.
Yes, we are all called to win souls, but an evangelist has a special anointing and a heart for the lost. The Holy Spirit, through the evangelist, will bring in new people to Christ either individually or in droves
Prophets are messengers of God. A prophet speaks forth the oracles of God. They hear from God concerning the future, they clear up any confusion among the body, and they bring correction.
Everyone wants to be a prophet today because they think it brings them to glory. But a true prophet is one who sacrifices everything and is often outcast because of the truth they speak.
Category #2: Insight
Insight gifts bring revelation. Those with insight gifts are able to meet a need through supernatural communication. Gifts of insight include:
- Discerning of spirits (1 John 4:1), otherwise known as the gift of discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10)
This is not the gift of criticism. If you find that you always seem to pick up on the negative traits of others, this my friend is not the gift of discernment. It’s likely that you are bringing your past struggles and present suspicions to the situation and allowing another spirit to operate through you.
Yes, there will be plenty of times where you detect which spirit is in operation but it’s not a free pass to find fault in others.
The gift of discernment often comes with much wisdom and we are called to use that wisdom wisely.
- Interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 12:10)
The gift of tongues is the ability to speak aloud the oracles of God. The interpretation of tongues is the ability to interpret said message in a language that can be understood. We’ll talk a bit more on the gift of tongues shortly.
- Word of knowledge (1 Cor 12:8)
The word of knowledge is the supernatural receiving of information that you otherwise would not have known.
This is not a gift of reading people or situations. This comes from the Holy Spirit and it’s meant to help, encourage, or correct someone in their walk….not to impress others of your amazing “how did you know that” ability.
- Word of Wisdom (1 Cor 12:8)
The word of wisdom is similar to a word of knowledge, but where a word of knowledge knows something, a word of wisdom has the solution.
I frequently operate in the gift of wisdom. I didn’t even realize it until I had several people in leadership acknowledge it. I had always heard it from friends, clients, and coworkers but I always took it with a grain of salt. It came so naturally that I didn’t give it much thought until God confirmed this gift through leadership.
Your gift is often something you overlook because you feel like it comes naturally, but it’s not natural—it’s supernatural.
Every believer has been given a gift and that gift is to be used for the good of others and the glory of God.
Join me next week as we dive into the service and strengthening gifts.
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