What is my spiritual gift?
Of spiritual gifts, Paul says, "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7). Spiritual gifts are talents and abilities given to Christians by the Holy Spirit to serve the church. In a body made of individual believers, it doesn't make sense for each person to have the same gift—a church made of all teachers, and no servants, would be ineffective. So the Holy Spirit distributes the different gifts so that all the needs of the church can be filled and all the people of the church can be cared for (1 Corinthians 12:11).
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Identifying our spiritual gifts is crucial if the church is to function effectively and efficiently. Often our passions in life will line up with our spiritual gifts, but sometimes they are completely different. Natural inborn talents are not to be confused with gifts of the Spirit. Input from others is also helpful, as we may not realize when and in what areas we are having an effect for Christ. Asking God in prayer is critical, since He distributes the gifts. And there are several books and tests available that can be used for input.
One thing to keep in mind is that spiritual gifts are not rigid. Gifts can be used in different ways. Someone with the gift of service may teach or join the worship team because there is a need to be filled. Someone with the gift of mercy may find themselves babysitting to relieve a burdened family. And someone with the gift of encouragement may feel led to start an online Bible ministry, trusting God to fill in other needs as they arise.
Recognizing God's flexibility and creativity will prevent the common problem with identifying spiritual gifts—pigeonholing ourselves. We can get so wrapped up with what a test says that we insist on serving where we want and not where we're needed. That is not the purpose of spiritual gifts. The purpose is to serve the body of Christ, not make an excuse for avoiding what we don't want to do. It's very telling that Paul ends 1 Corinthians 12, a long chapter about spiritual gifts, with the segue "And I will show you a still more excellent way" (verse 31b) then immediately explains how any gift or talent or sacrifice without love is useless (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
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