How do we discover our spiritual Gifts?
This week a friend of mine asked me to take a look at a spiritual gifts analysis she had to fill out for a camp job. I took a look at it and as I did I realized something, I do not like these things. I fill them out mentally all the time, and as a leader it is my job to help identify and bring to maturity the spiritual gifts of those whom I am leading. But why should we use spiritual gift tests to find some formulaic understanding of our spiritual gifts?
For example: Before going to Denver we had to have five people fill out a form listing a number of gifts. I was scored on such a wide range that it was almost overwhelming to look at the results. Now, at that point in my walk I was still very immature, there was no healthy, clear cut manifestation of my gifts. I was most obviously a leader, but as I have discovered leadership can encompass such a wide range of gifts that we can hardly call leadership itself a gift.
When I first started working with and hanging out with 10:31 Writer Jared Reimer I could not have told you what his gifts were. If I had given him a spiritual gifts test it may have shown something completely wrong at that time because he was still a relatively new Christian. As he has grown though he has shown an affinity for Exegesis and Teaching like no person I have ever met. I remember we would be sitting in the library working on a project for our class on Paul and he would say something so profound it would silence everyone at the table.
In my own personal journey I have discovered that my own spiritual gifts were nothing like what the test showed. I am very obviously an encourager/exhorter. My gift is to build people up and show them the truth of the gospel. But none of the gifts test I have ever taken has shown that. This gift is often coupled with Pastor/shepherding or some other leadership position. However it was my mother who pointed this gift out to me in High School. “Because” she told me “Of the way to tell people to follow Jesus and His word.”
Now, this is not the case for everyone, some people take one of these things and they are dead on, but tests are so hit and miss they are to be expected. Testing is not a sure fire way to gain an understanding of something…I have very rarely come across a student who, after scoring high on a test has said “I understand the material now.” Spiritual gift tests I think are worse because they leave you with no explanation as to why you got that result, you fill out a bunch of questions and get a result based on your answers. “Love Language” tests are more accurate than these things.
So the question remains…how do we discover out spiritual gifts?
I have already answered this question, but now let me expand. We discover our spiritual gifts through the growth, development and maturity that come as we live daily in the spirit of God. As we seek God first in our lives, instead of through mostly well-intentioned, man-made gift tests we will inevitably discover our spiritual gifts.
I am seeing this now in one of my best and closest friends. As she matures in Christ I am seeing her ability to teach and encourage come out. So what is my job? My job is to teach her to use that gift in a healthy manner to build up the body and to encourage the church to follow Christ more closely. Just like with Jared, my responsibility as a leader, mentor and most importantly brother in Christ is to help him use his gift. The amazing thing is that he is a natural at it, teaching and biblical understanding seem to flow out of him to a point where I enjoy sitting in the Sunday School class he teaches because I get fed by what he is teaching.
Yet we never went through a spiritual gifts test, we never sat down and tried to figure it out. We just coaxed it out naturally, let the spirit develop his gifts within him and then came alongside him to use them in a way that glorified God and built up the body of believers known as the church.
Jonathan David Faulkner is the executive director and found of 10:31 Life Ministries, as well as heavily involved in music, preaching and mentoring in his local community.