Spiritual gifts and discipleship

It’s almost summer and, if I walked into your house today, I would be shocked if I saw a big, beautiful Christmas gift from 6 months ago still sitting in your living room. Someone gave you a present and you didn’t open it?! Aren’t you curious to see what’s inside? Surely the giver intended for you to open it right away, don’t you think?

As teachers, disciple-makers, trainers, and mentors part of our responsibility is to help others discover and learn to use their spiritual gifts. Know yourself! And help others do the same – to find their “Ministry Fit” and find a place of service where they will be fruitful and fulfilled.

Primary passages on spiritual gifts: Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12-14; 1 Peter 4:9-11; Ephesians 4:7-16

Important Points Regarding Spiritual Gifts:

1. We are Gifted for God’s Work
All Christians have at least one spiritual gift, maybe you have several! The gifts are given for the common good, for service, and the building up of God’s kingdom. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.(1 Cor 12:7) Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, as a good steward of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Pet 4:10) They are not for personal glory.

2. Gifts Are To Be Used For Service
The gifts are meant to be used to complete the work God has called us to do. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He has prepared in advance for us to do. ( Eph 2:10) We are held accountable for how we have used (stewarded) them.

3. Gifts Are Given, Not Earned
The gifts are of equal value (the body metaphor, 1 Cor 12)and all are necessary for the church to function correctly. The gifts are not representative of how much God loves us. The gifts are also not a mark of spiritual maturity (we have all seen highly gifted people acting badly!). Spiritual maturity is reflected in the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives, not spiritual gifts.

4. Not Your Gift? It’s Still a Command!
Do not confuse spiritual gifts and Biblical commands. Many gifts are also commands in scripture: help, hospitality, mercy, giving, faith, evangelism, encouragement, etc. We are all responsible for our obedience to these commands. Those with the gift will find it easier, and a passion of their heart… but that doesn’t excuse the rest of us!

5. Spiritual Gifts Are Developed Over Time
Having a particular gift does not make you an instant expert, it’s more like a raw talent. Skills related to your gifting are (should be) developed over time. For example, teachers can develop practical skills, classroom management skills, study and research skills, etc. Those with leadership gifting can learn about communication, conflict resolution, organizational and planning skills, delegation, team building, etc. Those with a mercy gift might seek training in counselling to expand the use of their gift. Also, in different seasons of our lives, God develops different gifts.

6. Gift Combinations Function Differently

It’s helpful to realize that gift combinations function differently. Someone with teaching and knowledge gifts may have an academic style. Another with teaching and mercy or pastor/shepherd gifts may have a more approachable, relational style. And certainly teaching adults is different than teaching children! You can learn from others who have similar gifting, but also from those who are different.

7. Spiritual Gifts Are A Piece of the Bigger Puzzle
Your combination of gifts, life skills, temperment, personal history, and ministry passion is unique. Knowing your spiritual gift(s) is an important piece of the puzzle, but there are many other pieces! You need to determine your particular ministry burden or passion – what has the Lord put on your heart?

Gifts Testing

Tests for spiritual gifts come in many different forms and can produce wildly different results. As we’ve been experimenting with different tests recently, here are a few things we’ve learned to consider:

– Does it include the “sign gifts” of miracles, healing, and tongues? Do you want it to?

– Does it include “life skills” of music, craftsmanship, communication/writing, etc? Do you want it to?

– Does it include “special callings” of apostleship, celibacy, poverty, intercession? Do you want it to?

– How does it define prophecy as a gift? How do you feel about that?

– Does it ask more than 4 questions per gift? (ie. Is it statistically accurate or can one missed question throw the answers off?)

– Are the gifts distinct or have some been lumped together? (ie. Leadership mixed with Pastor/Shepherd and Teaching mixed with Knowledge)?

– Another option is to not use a test at all, but to read through a list of gifts, their definitions, and typical uses and see what fits best. This is what you would do after taking a test anyway!

Gift Categories

There are approximately 20 main gifts outlined in scripture (depending on how you answered some of the preference questions above!). I like these categories that reveal how the gifts are normally used:

Gifts of the Heart: Helps, Hospitality, Mercy, Faith, Giving

Gifts of Proclamation: Evangelism, Teaching, Discernment, Knowledge, Prophecy, Wisdom

Gifts of Action: Leadership, Administration, Shepherding, Encouragement/Counseling, Apostleship

Gifts of Inspiration (Signs): Healing, Miracles, Speaking in Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues

So how do I know what my gift is?

Well, you can start with a test if you want, but remember these important indicators:

1. Personal inclination – What do I enjoy doing? Blessing to others, effectiveness, andenjoyment are all indicators of your spiritual gift. You can be very good at something, but find it draining and that means it’s probably not one of your gifts.

2. Public recognition – What am I fruitful at and others acknowledge? It is important to get confirmation and feedback from others. Reviewing the results of a gifts test with someone who knows you well can help clarify certain issues. Those who work with you may see your gifts more clearly than you do!

3. Pursuing opportunities – You must test out and develop your gifts by serving. Intentionally seek opportunities to practice your gift, and see if you find confirmation. Some resources give ideas for service for each gift area. Your mentor or teacher might also be a good source of ideas.


There are many good Bible studies and books written on spiritual gifts. Everyone should read/study something on this topic as part of their spiritual development and it should be a part of every ministry or church’s adult education curriculum.

I have been using LifeKeys: Discover Who You Are by Kise, Stark, and Hirsch as a classroom text and training tool. Much of this blog post has been adapted from it. I like it because it covers the gifts well – definitions, what it looks like, ideas for use, and a Biblical character example. Usually I encourage women to take a test, read the gifts chapter and see if it fits them, and then we talk about it. The book also includes Myers Briggs temperament, life skills, passions, and priorities.

You can download a Hocking gifts test from the Resources page of this website. It’s my favorite so far but I will confess that it does not include evangelism, apostleship, or the sign gifts… but it’s very accurate on the others.

HELP – If you administer gifts tests and have a favorite send me a copy or a link to the webpage! I am still looking for the “perfect” one!


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