Growth Institute – Spiritual Gift Boot Camp: “How to know your Gifts”
HOW TO KNOW YOUR GIFTS
Dr. Ernest W. Jones
Our oneness in Christ does not destroy our individuality. The Holy Spirit has given each Christian special gifts for building up the church. Now that we have these gifts, it is crucial to use them. Are you spiritually mature, exercising the gifts God has given you? If you know what your gifts are, look for opportunities to serve. If you don’t know, ask God to show you. God has given His church an enormous responsibility to make disciples in every nation. This involves preaching, teaching, healing, nurturing, giving, administering, building, and many other tasks. If we had to fulfill this command as individuals, we might as well give up without trying because it would be impossible. Nevertheless, God calls us as members of His body. Some of us can do one task; some can do another. Together we can obey God more fully than any of us could alone.
The Gift of an Apostle
The mission for those with the gift of apostleship today is to plant new ministries and churches, go into places where the Gospel is not preached, reach across cultures to establish churches in challenging environments, raise up and develop leaders, call out and lead pastors and shepherds, and much more. They often have many different gifts that allow them to fulfill their ministry. These are leaders of leaders and ministers of ministers. They are influencers. They are typically entrepreneurial and are able to take risks and perform difficult tasks. Missionaries, church planters, certain Christian scholars and institutional leaders, and those leading multiple ministries or churches often have the gift of apostleship.
The Gift of a Prophet
A prophet’s primary function in the Old Testament was to serve as God’s representative or ambassador by communicating God’s word to His people. True prophets never spoke on their own authority or shared their personal opinions, but rather delivered the message God Himself gave them. Several texts make this explicit. God promised Moses, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” Exodus 4:12. God assured Moses, “I will raise up for [my people] a prophet like you . . . and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him” Deuteronomy 18:18. The Lord said to Jeremiah, “I have put my words in your mouth” Jeremiah 1:9. God commissioned Ezekiel by saying, “You must speak my words to them” Ezekiel 2:7. Prophetic ministry was not restricted to men in the OT, Moses’s sister Miriam is called a “prophet” Exodus 15:20, as are Deborah Judges 4:4 and Huldah. 2 Kings 22:14–20
The divine inspiration and authority of the OT prophetic voice is nowhere more clearly affirmed than in 2 Peter 1:20–21: “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit gives the gift of prophecy to some believers to make God’s heart known and to edify the church. This gift is for the benefit of both believers and unbelievers and is a sign that God is truly among His church 1 Corinthians 14:22-25. Those with this gift are sensitive to both the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the needs of the church body. They should be humble and continually study the Scriptures in order to test these revelations before speaking them. When they do speak, they should allow and even expect others to weigh what is said against the Scriptures and interpret the message accordingly. In this way the church may be continually built up together in unity. 1 Corinthians 14:4, 26
The Gift of an Evangelist
All Christians are called to evangelize and reach out to the lost with the Gospel, but some are given an extra measure of faith and effectiveness in this area. Evangelists are given the unique ability by the Holy Spirit to clearly and effectively communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others. Acts 8:5-12 is a great example of what an evangelist does. They are burdened in their hearts for the lost and will go out of their way to share the truth with them. Evangelists are able to overcome the normal fear of rejection and engage non-believers in meaningful conversations about Jesus. Their gift allows them to communicate with all types of people and therefore they receive a greater response to the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. They continually seek out relationships with those who don’t know Jesus and are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit to approach different people.
The Gift of a Pastor
The spiritual gift of pastor or shepherd is one that carries many different responsibilities. This gift is closely related to the spiritual gifts of leadership and teaching. In the Biblical context, shepherds had several different responsibilities to their sheep and ultimately, to the owner of the sheep. They kept a lookout for predators and protected the sheep from attackers. They cared for wounded and sick sheep, nursing them back to health. They rescued them if they became lost or trapped. They spent enormous amounts of time with them guiding them to the places of nourishment and rest. The result was a trust and relationship that kept the sheep following the shepherd. The sheep were attuned to the shepherd’s voice to the point that even if they were temporarily mixed with another herd, at the call of the shepherd they would separate and follow him. John 10:11-18
Pastors are called and gifted to care for the spiritual well-being of a local body of God’s people. Pastors are first and foremost servants of God and servants of the church. They are given a mixture of abilities by grace that allows them to serve the needs of an entire community. The goal of the pastor is to reveal the glory of God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to a people who need God’s grace for life. The primary way the pastor will do this is by teaching the Word of God to the church. The pastor loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ and puts it at the center of his life and ministry. Pastors do not seek fame or recognition for themselves, but they are placed in a position of authority by the Holy Spirit. The role of a pastor is one of humility and service as he is reminded daily of his overwhelming need of God’s grace for the task at hand.
The Gift of a Teacher
The spiritual gift of teaching is one that carries a heavy responsibility in the church. In fact, James 3:1 warns, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Like every believer, teachers are to be stewards of every word that comes out of their mouths. But the greater responsibility to which they are called is to be stewards of the Word of God to His people. Teachers have been entrusted with the task of effectively communicating what the Bible says, what it means, and how we as followers of Jesus Christ are to apply it to our lives here and now. Those with the spiritual gift of teaching love to study the Word of God for extended periods of time. They consume the Scriptures as food for their hearts, souls and minds with the expressed purpose of knowing Him and then making Him known to others. They want to know what God has revealed of Himself and what He requires of us as people created in His image. They take great joy and satisfaction in seeing others learn and apply the truth of God’s Word to their lives. They love to see how the Gospel is woven throughout the Scriptures and how it glorifies and magnifies Jesus Christ in the hearts and lives of those who love Him by grace.
Without this gift, the church would quickly fall into error and sin. Teachers are there to make sure that doesn’t happen. They hate when Scripture is abused and used out of context or with ill intent. They love the truth and speak the truth in love. They will never hide or withhold it. They are called to demonstrate God’s love while revealing His truth to the world without fear. The effect of their ministry is the upholding of God’s Word and the growth and maturity of His church until the day of His return.