How to Determine Spiritual Gifts

So how do you determine what your spiritual gifts are? I don’t think there is one thing that will tell you or confirm it. I believe you need multiple converging reference points that point you toward a particular gift or set of gifts. Here several of those reference points. I am sure there are more:

  1. Others – what do you find other people saying about you? Ask several people what they feel you are gifted at and listen for commonality. They may see something you never noticed and that an inventory would have never picked up on.
  2. Scripture – It is hard to know what you are gifted at if you are out of touch and communication with God, the one who gives the gifts. The more we immerse ourselves in scripture the easier it is for it to illuminate our lives.
  3. Prayer – Do some asking.
  4. Spiritual gifts inventories – Now this may leave you scratching your head. Here you thought I was trashing them and then I say they are good. I think they have a place but need to be considered along with the other four items in this list.
  5. Opportunity – You may never figure out all your gifts or fine tune them and to be honest I really don’t think it matters that much. Do you think Paul was paralyzed in his missionary journey until Luke showed up with the newest spiritual gift inventory? Nope. He just got to work with whatever opportunities presented themselves. I think the more we engage in ministy the clearer our gifts will be.

The point here is to find commonality across multiple reference points. None of these alone are sufficient but taken together the picture becomes clearer. Last, I am not trying to uniformly bash spiritual gifts tests and inventories. I am raising a red flag if we think they are the end all of determining our gifts. I think real life is a better determiner of the gifts God has given us and the ones that really matter will reveal themselves over time. I don’t think we need to sit on our hands or go unused because we haven’t figure these things out. The point is to be used, not to spend our time processing what our gifts are or aren’t.

One last point…I wonder how many people don’t do certain things or avoid certain opportunities because they believe, “that is just not my gift.” I wonder if we have fine tuned the life right out of spirituality and processed it to death or at least paralysis. That is hard for me to say because I am a stats and testing junkie who loves to process things but I am afraid it is true.

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

3 Responses to How to Determine Spiritual Gifts

  1. Edward Fudge says:

    Well-said, but I believe Scripture suggests some other indicators for identifying grace-gifts (charismata). For example:

    1. What service can you perform within your spiritual circle that others are not providing? What gifting is presently missing (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:24-25)

    2.. What do you do for others that leaves you feeling invigorated rather than exhausted? When do you experience God’s strength for service? (1 Pet. 4::11)

    3. How do you serve that causes people to praise God for your ministry? (1 Pet. 4:11)

    Cordially,
    Edward

    • mattdabbs says:

      Edward…there you go again using the Bible to make points. Well done. That is a really good list.

      Another important chapter to consider in 1 Corinthians 12. There we see that God gives gifts to us for working toward the common good (1 Cor 12:7). That says to me that as I am serving and working with my brothers and sisters in Christ the gifts God has given me will come to the surface. If I am just using my talents and abilities for myself then it is going to be hard to see and understand how God has gifted me for His service. We also see that in the body analogy of how these gifts are used that Paul also mentions in 1 Cor 12. Gifts are used best and for the most good when used in the context of the body of Christ, with Christ as the head…leading, guiding and empowering us to work for the glory of God. What is more, we have to find harmony in the body (1 Cor 12:21ff) if our gifts are going to be used correctly.

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