Last week we discussed how every believer in Christ has been given a spiritual gift. God calls us to put those gifts into action! Don’t know your spiritual gift? Then check out last week’s blog post: Is God Calling You? At the end it includes a link to take a gift spiritual gifts assessment to help you determine what your gift(s) might be!
Once you know what your gift(s) may be, how do you put them into action?
- Read examples of how people used the various gifts in the Bible. These stories may prompt you with some ideas as to how God may be calling you to use your similar gift(s).
Leadership/Vision Caster: Peter replacing Judas (Acts 1:12-26). James leading the Jerusalem church through a time of great crisis (Book of James).
Administration: managing people resources effectively/executor of vision and mobilizer of people. Stephen (Acts 6:1-7)
Teaching: Paul (his epistles)
Knowledge: Paul (also his epistles, Acts 17:22-34)
Wisdom: Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:24-28)
Prophecy: Call to warn, admonish, deliver the truth of God’s Word- read any of the prophetic books.
Discernment: Peter (Acts 5:1-11, Acts 8:9-25)
Exhortation/Encouragement: Barnabas (Acts 9:26-28, Acts 11:19-30)
Shepherding/Pastoral: Peter (Acts 9:32) & John (I, II & III John)
Faith: John remaining at the cross with Jesus (John 19:25-27), John believing Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:1-8)
Evangelism: Philip (Acts 8:4-8, 26-40) & various saints (Acts 11:19-21)
Apostleship/Missions: same as above
Service/Helps: Tabitha (Acts 9:36-43)
Mercy: Ananias (Acts 9:10-19)
Giving: Church at Antioch(Acts 11:29-30)
Hospitality: Lydia (Acts 16:13-15) & Simon the Tanner (Acts 9:43).
Of course these examples are far from exhaustive and many other stories may come to mind of other Biblical characters as well! The challenge is to take the time to truly understand the gift you have been given, how God called others to put it into action in the past and to begin to seek Him as to how He may be calling you to exercise it today.
Which brings us to step 2.
2. Pray for Direction. One thing you will notice if you read all of the above stories carefully, these men and women were often directly led by the Holy Spirit or took their course of action after seeking the Lord in prayer. While our spiritual gift(s) are primarily used for the building up and benefit of others, they are also most effective when they are exercised in a believer who exercises in prayer regularly! So talk to God about your gift and your calling.
3. Be prepared to be prepared. Nearly every follower of God went through a time of preparation before they were called by God to carry out specific tasks. Elijah was sent to Cherith and Zarephath. Jesus went out into the desert. David ran for his life from Saul. Moses herded sheep. The disciples were tucked away in an upper room after three solid years with Jesus. Paul went into Arabia and then back to Damascus. It was very rare for God’s men and women to be called and immediately put into action. Most required a season or even years of preparation.
I remember the first time I ever “wrote” anything “for God”. I was working as an elementary teacher and the church needed someone to write curriculum for the 3rd-5th graders. Many of these children stayed for two services, so they needed something different for the second hour, so they wouldn’t hear the same lesson twice. They wanted me to come up with ideas to enrich the lesson they had already been taught. Truthfully, it just felt like what I did at work every day. There wasn’t any big spiritual excitement about doing it, but I knew the need was there, God had gifted me to teach, so I agreed to do it. At the time I had not the faintest clue that God was equipping me to begin to write women’s Bible studies. And honestly, if He had told me so, I probably wouldn’t have believed Him.
To begin to exercise our gift(s) doesn’t always feel like a big spiritual hurrah. Sometimes it may just feel like work. That doesn’t mean it’s not significant. It could be a spiritual faith-building exercise testing your obedience in the small things. And God won’t necessarily inform you as to how He is using that obedience to prepare you for something else in the future. He simply presents the opportunity to obey and waits to see if we will be faithful.
You have been gifted my friend. Don’t wait for God to ask you to use it in some big, flashy way to feel like, “This is it! This is my calling!”. Just open your heart and eyes to the needs around you. Does the need require someone with your gift(s)? Then pray about jumping in and building your spiritual muscle. Trust God’s admonition that faithfulness and obedience matter. Your willingness to exercise your gift in a small way today may be the beginning to God opening the door to bigger things tomorrow.
How has God asked you to exercise your spiritual gift in the past and what was that experience like?