You have been given a gift.
A spiritual gift (or two) from your creator. All Christians have been given gifts from God for the purpose of fulfilling His call on their life. It is my hope that this article will help you to see the abilities that you have as true gifts, meant for carrying out God’s plan for your life and it will get you to thinking about where you are meant to use your spiritual gifts.
The basis for spiritual gifts comes from Romans 12, verses 4 -8 “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
The 7 Spiritual Gifts listed in this verse are:
Prophecy – which I refer to as Perceiving, following the model of Don and Katie Fortune in their book Discover Your God-Given Gifts. As they explain it: “We have purposely chosen this word over prophet to avoid negative connotations and possible confusion, since the same root word is used in the other two categories of gifts, found in 1 Corinthians 12:10 and in Ephesians 4:11”
Compassion (or mercy)
As mentioned in the quote by the Fortunes, the giving of gifts to man, by the persons of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, are found in two other places in the bible:
1 Corinthians 12:10 “To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight ([a]the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues.” Amplified Bible.
Ephesians 4:11 “And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers.” Amplified Bible.
It could be argued the gifts given by Jesus before He ascended into heaven, as listed in Ephesians 4, are given to some, not all, but some people, for the purpose of building up the body of Chris for the work of the ministry. I do not feel confident enough in the interpretation of this verse to claim those gifts were given to everyone.
In 1 Corinthians 12:10, the case could be made that those spiritual gifts, as given by the Holy Spirit are given to all, each gift available to each believer, as needed, according to the will of the Holy Spirit, and for His purposes at any given moment. So those gifts rise up as needed and leave us when they are not needed.
The spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12 are foundational gifts, given to each one, by God as He created us for the purpose of taking our place as a member of the body of Christ. Just as our toes, fingers, heart, lungs, and eyes were created right from conception to fulfill their specific duties as members of our body; we were created with specific foundational gifts meant for our use as we fulfill our jobs as members of Christ.
While the gifts from Christ and the Holy Spirit can flow and change within us as needed; the foundational gifts are those we are given at birth, they are part of who we are, our character, and our motivations. They do not change. They influence our behaviors and who we become.
This section of Romans is also Paul’s explanation to the church that we are many members of one body, each with a different function to perform, in order to build up and edify one another in love. We are to be aware of what our gifts are and to use them, together with other believers, to carry out God’s will here on earth. As further encouragement to use our gifts, 1 Peter 4:10 and 11 reads: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, [let him] [speak] as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, [let him do it] as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Peter speaks of two types of gifts, Speaking and ministering. If you look at the list of spiritual gifts, the seven gifts break into two groups, speaking gifts and serving gifts.
There is a more complete description of each spiritual gift below, but to put them into the two groups Peter mentioned, Perceivers, Teachers and Exhorters and Administrators are speaking gifts. Givers, Servers, and Compassionate people, are serving gifts.
As you look over the definition of the different gifts, discover which ones you recognize in your own life and think about ways you can start to use that gift today, right where you are. Don’t wait for the perfect situation or for more knowledge and training. Just as a muscle only gets stronger after using it, our gifts only grow after we put them to work. Take hold of those gifts, discover what God has for you and begin your own adventure!
Perceiver: This gift is meant for building up the body by understanding God’s word and His will, and then sharing that truth with other believers. That’s not to say everybody can’t understand God’s word, we most certainly can. Perceivers have the ability to grasp it completely, very easily and most importantly, they feel a very strong pull to live God’s word out in every area of their life, they don’t take his Truth lightly or for granted and they encourage others to do likewise. This is a big component of this gifting they feel a real compulsion to help other people see where they might be lax in following God’s word. They are wonderful standard bearers for the godly character traits we should all seek to embody. Things like honesty, truth and righteousness come naturally to them.
Perceivers need to remember: only Jesus was perfect and our imperfections are gifts from God… …reminders that we need Him. The world is fallen and sinful and for that reason, this side of heaven, nothing will be completely perfect. This understanding of mercy is a bit underdeveloped in the average perceiver and if not taught to them, they will grow to be judgmental and self-righteous, finding fault and criticizing others in their efforts to correct what they see as wrong behaviors. An area for spiritual growth in perceivers is an understanding of the source of mercy and forgiveness. Learning to seek God on the behalf of a sinful friend rather than confront and judge the person themselves.
Server: Servers are quiet, background people. They may be seen as shy when in reality they are observing and absorbing. Instead of making things happen, they are seeking to understand what is happening so they can find their place. The server will hang back in new situation, hesitant to join in, often overwhelmed by the energy and forcefulness of more aggressive people. Servers are not big talkers. They don’t express their emotions in words so much as in actions. They have a hard time putting words to their feelings and need time to think about it. They love to help and have a hard time saying no. Servers are shy and sensitive, easily hurt, easily recognizing when others are hurting.
Servers (and compassion people) are the most likely to say they don’t have a gift. Because they are quiet and careful, not aggressive or boisterous, they’ve been overlooked and dismissed most of their lives as dull, gray or boring. In the body of Christ though, the server is master of all! Luke 22:26 “But you are not to be like that (the Gentiles). Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” Jesus himself was the greatest servant of all and those with the server gift are graced with this ability, naturally the rest of us have to work on it a bit harder.
Teaching: The gift of teaching, like perceiving, is one of the communicator gifts, more outspoken and more of a go-getter than the server. Teachers like to research, find information and share it. Academics come easily to them thanks to a higher than average intelligence. They don’t have the strong perceiver need to be right or to make sure everyone else is right because they are less interested in what other people are doing. Those with a strong teaching gift can have a hard time socially since they are more inner focused.
Teachers have an important job in the body of Christ, and it is one to not take lightly – James 3:1 says “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” The calling to teach has the responsibility for leading of others. Leading people down the wrong path or into wrong doctrine carries with it dire consequences…
2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2:17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”
Exhorters: To exhort means to encourage, to speak truth, urging the listener to take action. Exhorters are talkers! They are also incurable optimists. Exhorters don’t see difficulties, they ignore them. This can make them seem naïve or pollyannah-ish. They want to encourage everyone to be their best and can see the potential in people. Both their talkative nature and penchant for seeing the good in folks are part of their God–given giftedness and is vital to the body of Christ for building other people up and encouraging them to fulfill their call. With a high need for acceptance, exhorters like to please and entertain. They dislike strife and discord. It is a unique calling on their life that they can bring harmony and joy into a room with them. They are charming people persons with the gift of gab. They can usually talk themselves out of trouble
Givers : Givers are just that, people who love to give whatever they have to spare. It may be money, it may be a listening ear, it may be time or ability. The blessings of giving are many and we would do well to follow the Givers example – he who gives, do so liberally; you will reap what you sow; give and it will be given unto you… are just a few biblical injunctions about giving. Givers are in many ways, the best of all of us – every spiritual gift entails giving something of ourselves to others. Words of encouragement, teaching others to live for God, giving our time as servants, sharing His truth, are forms of giving that flow from some of the other gifts. In a way, the Giver is a composite of all the other gifts.
For this reason, they can also be the hardest to identify. Perhaps one of the best ways to identify as giver is from what they don’t have… They can share God’s word like a perceiver or teacher, but they don’t have the independent or solitude streak of those gifts. Givers like to be around people and are more relaxed and low key then the speaking gifts of perceiver, teacher and exhorter.
Givers are also servers because they like to help people, but they are not as shy or unmotivated as a server. One key indicator of a strong giver gift is their attraction toward, and desire to make, money. It comes very naturally to them and they tend to be entrepreneurs even from a young age.
Administrators: Definitely one of the speaking gifts as opposed to a serving gift, administrators are talkers. They have been endowed by God with the ability to see what needs to be done, figure out what supplies or other resources are necessary and lay out a plan to get it done. This is the gift that pulls all the others together and gets them organized. Administrators don’t understand hurt feelings; they are emotionally pretty stable and can’t figure out why yelling at someone for not following orders might hurt the other person’s feelings. It wouldn’t bother them too much to be yelled at, why should it bother anyone else? Not terribly sympathetic, they need to learn compassion. They also need a bit of humility. Like perceivers, administrators can get caught up in their own intelligence, and decide that they can do pretty much anything they set their minds to. And they usually can. More than other gifts, the administrator has the most go-getter ambition of any of the gifts, plenty of perseverance, and the natural intelligence to figure out whatever they need.
Compassion: Compassionate people are another of the serving gifts. That should tell you already these are people persons, quieter and less outgoing than those with a speaking gift of perceiver, teacher and administrator. The gift of compassion includes an almost supernatural sensitivity to the emotions of others. This unique sensitivity makes them apt to feel wounded or offended easily and they cry over everything. Correction and criticism that would not faze a teacher or administrator will break the heart of a compassionate person. They live through their feelings. If they feel sad because they weather is rainy, they feel sad and so it’s a sad day.
In the body of Christ, compassion people are the glue that helps us stick together. They reach out to hurting people, they notice when someone hasn’t been to church in a while and will call them to see if they’re okay. They can sense, in a room full of people, the one person who is feeling lonely and sad. Now, if their gift of compassion has been recognized, appreciated, and encouraged, so they have sufficient sense of self worth, the compassion person will reach out to a hurting person with God’s love and comfort. If their gift has been ignored or ridiculed, or unappreciated as a child, they will not understand the importance of their gift and they won’t have the confidence to share it.
None of the spiritual gifts are to be taken lightly or used indiscriminately. If you think you were called to be a teacher, it does not mean you should go out looking for a pulpit. Spiritual gifts that are meant to be used throughout our lives as our primary vocation are not necessarily given to us fully developed. We need to be an active participant in the growing and developing of our gifts. Find a mentor, start volunteering in a small, low key, venue to work out and perfect your gift.
Gifts never flow from an empty spirit. The most powerful preachers, teachers, etc spend a great deal more time on their knees before the Lord and in study of the Word than they do actually ministering to others. I heard one preacher say every one minute of preaching should take a full hour of preparation. The best way to discover your spiritual gifts and uncover areas in which to use them, is to spend time with the One who gave you the gifts.
You do have gifts, probably a combination of gifts, since most people have at least one gift very strongly and one or two others to a lesser degree. I encourage you to dig deeper, grab on to what God has given you and seek to discover how He would have you use that gift. Our vision statement at LifeWorks Ministries says:
Life is an adventure of discovery: Discovering God, discovering self,
and discovering the needs you were created to fill.
To help you on the journey of Discovering who God created you to be and living out that calling, we’ve created this unique resource: The Map, The Path and The Tools for an Exceptional Christian Life