Discovering Your Members Gifts:
Gods Grace in Everyday Life
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for the common good.
1st Corinthians 12:7
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of Gods grace in its various forms.
1st Peter 4:10
Over the years various spiritual gift assessment guides have been produced.
By in large these have consisted of simple and sometimes simplistic tests designed to
tell us which of a number of gifts listed in various passages of the Bible (and
interpreted by the test designer) we feel we may have. Occasionally these have
included encouragement to have others affirm (or, implicitly, deny) that we
have these gifts. And finally some, such as Willow Creeks
have devised holistic strategies for helping people find and implement their gifts. Along side
this product I would encourage the use of either
Your Ministry Identity by Paul Ford, or
The 3 Colors
of Ministry by Christian Schwarz.
However, none of these materials can totally cover the full expanse of Gods
design for your congregation.
When we expand the gifts God has given us from lists of abilities taken from the
Bible to Gods grace in its various forms We suddenly see
the full expanse of that design. This includes:
- Our backgrounds and experiences God as given me a cross-cultural
environment. I grew up between my family southern Appalachian roots and my
northeastern Ohio neighborhood. In adulthood I jumped immediately into the
cultural stew pot of Hawaii. From there I have bounced through a series of
cross-cultural and multi-cultural neighborhoods and ministries. This gives me
a comfort (and joy) in such setting which others do not share.
In contrast, I knew of a young man who boasted that he had never left the county
where he was born. His depth of investment in West Michigan would provide a strong
base for speaking to the Dutch-American subculture he lived in. We all have such
background and experiences as one aspect of our unique assignment from God.
- Our locations and our relationships As I write this I am living in a
dominantly Latino neighborhood in west Texas. Gods grace in placing me here
empowers me to talk to my neighbors. If I were not here, I could not as easily reflect
Jesus to the people around me. Of course, that takes developing relationships. We all
have people in our lives that, perhaps, no other Christian can befriend. They are
gifts from God for serving him.
- Our times and opportunities Times change. Just ask anyone who bought
platform shoes and a leisure suit. Rham Immanuel of the Obama Administration infamously
declared, Never let a crisis go to waste. Paul said something similar, if
Be very careful, then, how you live
not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
We cannot live this moment or era of time over and no one can live it for us. This moment
is Gods gift to us and possibly the most costly since we can never buy it back. When
9/11 happened, in the midst of that tragedy many churches had a gift from God, an
opportunity to establish relationships with people seeking answers.
- Our passions and awareness A friend of mine loves to race Radio Controlled
[R/C] cars. He is passionate and good at it and so he goes to a lot of
R/C races, places I (likely you) will never be seen. This places him with
people no one else can reach for Jesus. One church in Ontario, CA had at one time a
powerful outreach called the Fly Fishing Club. Yes, it was about Fly Fishing and also about
apprentices of Jesus having relationships with fishermen.
Sometimes our passions deal directly with a hurt Jesus can address. I have known many
people in recovery from alcohol, drugs or abuse who used their passion and compassion
for other people suffering through these things.
- Our personalities and temperaments Each of us has been built in
particular ways. Most pastors I know are care-givers or ministry-promotors or
people-connectors. Not me. I am a warrior. I love to enter dangerous places, face
difficult tasks and long odds, putting all I am to the test. This allows me
to serve in gang territory in the inner-city, conflict-ridden churches, and
churches facing crises. Other pastors do better in other situations.
Likewise, it takes certain types of personalities to get into the hearts and lives of teenagers.
It is a fallacy that you must be young or even fashionable. However, graciousness, patience,
stability and transparent honesty go a long, long way and people with such temperaments
have gifts from God lacking in many.
- Our talents and supernatural gifts Using the materials suggested above and
the reflections of those who know you best (and are honest about it) you can
find the main gifts you have. Be aware that your most prominent talent may not be the
gift that God considers most important.
While preparing a seminar for 100 people on
spiritual gifts an award-winning high school teach approached me to assist. I asked her
which parts she might want to teach and she said, None. Though she was
very talented as a teacher, her greatest spiritual gift was Service, and so she quietly,
without fanfare, provided snacks for the weekend. Her gift of Service was so powerful
(Service being defined as behind the scenes assistance) that no one, not even
I caught her putting the food out to be consumed. It was almost as if it appeared
Combining these factors together we can see the sort of individuals and congregation
God has made us and can reflect on the sorts of service we would be most effective in
doing in order to make apprentices of those outside of the Body of Christ.