By Juan Sanchez
“Pastor, how do I discover my spiritual gifts?”
As a pastor, I’m sure you experience many church members asking this common question.
I propose, though, it’s the wrong question. The New Testament’s lists of spiritual gifts are representative of varieties of spiritual gifts, services, and activities (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). That means any spiritual gifts inventory will be limited and, likely, limiting.
Of course, the question still comes up because every Christian is given “a manifestation of the Spirit…for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
The Better Question: How Can I Serve the Body of Christ?
While we tend to get hung up on particular gifts, in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul broadens the categories of gifts under the umbrella of the manifestation of the Spirit.
Paul argues we manifest the Spirit when we serve one another (1 Corinthians 12:7). So, how do we help our members discover their areas of giftedness? Here are five suggestions.
1. Encourage your members to discover the church body’s needs.
What are the biblical needs of your church? There are, of course, word ministry needs such as preaching and teaching (Ephesians 4:11). But there are also serving needs—caring for widows, orphans, the elderly, parents, children, single mothers, etc. (1 Peter 4:10-11).
Regularly communicate such needs to your people. Encourage church members to ask, “Where may I serve the body of Christ?”
2. Encourage your members to pray.
Once members begin to see and understand the needs of the church, encourage them to pray for its particular needs. Encourage them to pray the Lord of the harvest will raise up more laborers.
Encourage them to pray that the leadership of the church will have wisdom in guiding its ministries. And encourage your people to ask the Lord if He’s calling them to serve in one of those areas.
3. Encourage your members to ask, “What do I enjoy doing?”
Why do some people think doing the Lord’s will has to be miserable? If the Spirit has gifted us, and if we’re growing in grace, we’ll enjoy serving the Lord and the church with the gifts He’s given us.
There may be needs, however, that your people aren’t thrilled about but that are still important (i.e., serving in the nursery). Additionally, the Lord may also have equipped your members with certain proficiencies they’re reluctant to use at church because it’s what they do all day at work (i.e., accounting, IT).
Still, encourage them to serve the church body in these ways. In most cases, they’ll find it a delight.
4. Encourage your members to seek godly counsel.
Godly counsel can come from pastors, pastoral staff, mentors, small group leaders, and others in the church. The mature Christians your church members do life with have the opportunity to observe and care for one another.
Encourage your church members to look to wise counselors in their lives who may either confirm or deny if they have particular gifts in certain areas.
5. Encourage your members to not just sit there, but to do something—to serve somewhere.
All Christians are all given gifts for the common good. Therefore, help your people put their gifts to good use (1 Peter 4:10-11). Our church members don’t have to wait until they discover their gifts to serve. They can and should serve the church right now.
As they’re serving, they’ll likely discover they enjoy it. As they serve, the church leaders may confirm what they see. And as they serve, your members will likely discover some areas where the Spirit has equipped them to build up the church body in love.
Imagine that. Church members discovering their spiritual gift(s) while serving. Don’t let them just sit there; encourage them to do something.