I’ve been a Christian for over 35 years now. I remember the excitement I felt when I first learned about spiritual gifts. It felt like I was uncovering some secret mystery of the universe. I wanted everything God had for me and discovering this treasure trove of spiritual goodies was thrilling.
Consequently, I have spent years studying the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As our church embarks on a spiritual growth series studying our S.H.A.P.E. (Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experiences) for service, I’ve come to realize that there are some things about spiritual gifts that every Christian should be aware of.
1. Spiritual gifts won’t give you an upgrade to first class.
When I was a much younger Christian I had an encounter with a Christian co-worker that was disturbing. After establishing that we were both believers he asked me, “Have you received the baptism of the Holy Ghost?”
I said, “Of course! That’s what it means to become a Christian.”
He said, “No, no, no. I mean have you received the gift of the Holy Ghost as evidenced by speaking in tongues?”
Slightly confused I stammered, “Well no, but…”
He interrupted me and stated, “You see it’s like insurance policies. We both have liability coverage by the blood of Jesus, but *I* got the premium coverage when I was baptized into the Holy Ghost!”
Friends, can I just tell you, that’s one of the dumbest lies I’ve ever heard.
The Bible does not teach a two-tier baptism of the Holy Spirit. There are no first and second class Christians. The moment you get saved you receive ALL of the Holy Spirit there is and He gives you the spiritual gift(s) that He decides is right for you.
2. Spiritual gifts won’t cure selfishness.
Related to #1, is the motive behind the pursuit of spiritual gifts. Many Christians feed off of the euphoria of experience-based Christianity. They want to keep FEELING the movement of God’s Spirit. They often drift from conference to conference, church to church, concert to concert always trying to repeat an emotional encounter. This is easily translated into spiritual gifts by passionately seeking the gifts which seem to elicit emotional highs.
The greatest error in this approach is that the believer has adopted a narcissistic Christianity that genuinely believes “it’s all about me!”
The Bible is crystal clear on this point.
Life is not about you and spiritual gifts are no exception.
Spiritual gifts are given to us, but they’re not for us.
Each gift is meant to be used to serve others (1 Peter 4:10).
3. Spiritual gifts won’t substitute spiritual disciplines.
Another trend that I’ve seen and fallen for, is to view spiritual gifts as a magic maturity pill. Man, if I can just get some special gift that will magically make me the kind of Christian I so desperately want to be, but without all this hard work, that would be awesome!
Unfortunately, there is no fast track to spiritual maturity.
No spiritual gift will ever take the place of the very real disciplines of worship, fellowship, prayer, Bible study, giving, serving, and witnessing.
4. Spiritual gifts won’t automatically tell you where you should serve.
The beauty of spiritual gift assessments is that they can help you quickly identify your spiritual gift(s).
The downside is that that’s all it really tells you.
Discovering your spiritual gift(s) doesn’t really tell you what volunteer role or task you should fill.
Spiritual gift assessments can only tell you one piece of a complex puzzle.
5. My spiritual gifts won’t change, but my discernment does.
It’s quite difficult to accurately diagnose your spiritual gifts at the beginning of your Christian journey. There’s simply not enough serving experiences to draw on.
I’ve found that the more mature a believer is, the less they really need an assessment to figure out their gifts.
Christians who have walked with God for many years, serving Him faithfully wherever they’re needed, are very in tune with their spiritual gifts even without an assessment.
6. Having a spiritual gift(s) won’t cause me to serve!
I’ve also noticed another trend among a few believers.
It’s the, “I won’t do anything until I know everything” syndrome.
They take all sorts of surveys, assessments, quizzes, profiles, etc. all along seeming dazed and confused.
They often say they are waiting to serve until they find their perfect fit.
They want to “feel led” before they get moving.
I think Matthew 20:28 is pretty clear:
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Matthew 20:28, NLT)
A non-serving Christian is a living contradiction.
Real Jesus followers serve even when that means serving where I’m needed until I discover where I’m gifted.
It’s like the old preacher used to say, “God won’t steer a parked car.”
It’s easier to discover your gifts by serving than to discover your place by your gifts.
BTW: You don’t even have to know your spiritual gifts in order to use them.
There’s my list.
What would you add?