Three Steps to Identifying Your Spiritual Gift
Every Christian is gifted by the Spirit to serve within the church. But how can you determine what your gift is? Many turn to online tests to determine their gift, which is ironic to me. How can you determine your Spirit-empowered function in the church (that is what a gift is), when you are alone on the Internet? Spiritual gifts function in the everyday life and ministry of the local church and that is where they are identified as well. If you want to find out how the Spirit has gifted you to serve the church, stop looking for answers on the Internet. Instead, follow these three steps to identify your spiritual gift:
1: Look for Providential Opportunities to Serve
Begin serving wherever there is a need in the church and treat every opportunity as a providential opportunity. The first questions you need to ask are: “What needs are in the church?” “Which people need ministry?” “What tasks can I do now?” “How can I make our church more effective at discipleship?”
2. Examine your Personal Desire & Ability to Serve
As your serve, see where God has given you a desire and “energy” to serve. At this point you need to ask yourself: “Where am I thriving in ministry?” “What aspect of my ministry am I most passionate about?” “What area of my ministry is the most difficult and draining?” “Where do I provide the most help?” “Where do I need the most help?”
3. Seek Pastoral Affirmation to Serve
After you serve, seek affirmation from the church leaders to avoid self-deception. This may be the most important step. This is where every one of the “spiritual gifts” test goes wrong. All the contemporary tests to determine your spiritual gifts assume that you know yourself well enough to evaluate where you are effective. Theologically, this is more than problematic. The Fall assures us that we do not know ourselves well enough to independently evaluate our gifts. We need the affirmation of the church just as much as Paul needed affirmation from the church at Antioch before he went the mission field. At this point you need to be asking your ministry leaders, elders, and pastors: “Where do you think I am gifted?” “Where do I need to grow?” “How can I be more useful in my service to the church?”
This process is more difficult than an online spiritual gift test. To do this you will have to be at church, every week. More than that, you will have to faithfully serve the church. That’s the real secret to this method of determining your spiritual gift. It is not a method at all—it is a call to service. You can trust that when you are faithfully serving the church your gift will blossom and become clear. If your gift is not clear at this point, it may be because you have not been serving enough for it to be noticeable.
Paul Shirley is a graduate of The Expositors Seminary and has served as the pastor of Grace Community Church in Wilmington, Delaware since 2011.