Last Sunday at The Creek we talked about the tendency to sensationalize Spiritual gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, Paul is trying to drive the Corinthian church away from a wave-the-magic-wand view of spiritual gifts to more of a passive viewpoint.
He does this by varying his word choices and eschewing the word “gift” in favor of a more generic term like “manifestation of the Spirit.”
If a spiritual gift is simply the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself in and through me, then what responsibility do I have to “figure out” my gift? Do we have any obligation to seek it out, or will it just happen?
The answer to this question is not easy, nor is it agreed upon! Don’t let that discourage you…there is very little within the realm of spiritual gifts that is agreed upon among Bible scholars!
Let’s just briefly look at 2 competing philosophies for discovering spiritual gifts. The first is called discover-and-serve, the second is called serve-and-discover.
What does this mean? It means that people should use some tool by which to figure out where they are gifted, and then serve in that area. This could mean taking a spiritual gifts test, or just spending some time thinking about what you like to do and where God is leading your desires.
The benefit of this approach is it gives people some direction before they serve. There’s safety in this. You might feel like there’s less risk of failure if you discover before you serve.
The downside of this approach is it can pigeon-hole people into a too narrowly defined area of service, and therefore it keeps someone from venturing out into other things they might be good at.
What does this mean? It means that people should just dive in and serve when they see a need. People who hold this view believe that people will notice needs in the areas in which they are gifted or passionate.
Therefore, discovery happens naturally and by default. The benefit of this approach is it gets people involved quickly and keeps them open to a broad range of activities.
The downside is that someone might experience failure because they are ill-equipped to serve in a particular area.
What’s the right answer? I honestly don’t know. I think there could be validity to both.
However, at the end of the day, we must remember that spiritual gifts are more properly described as “manifestations of the Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:7). Therefore, the best way to use my gifts is to be used by the Holy Spirit to minister to the needs of my local church.
Discover-and-serve…serve-and-discover…either way, if you focus on meeting the needs of others, you can’t go wrong!