Recently someone asked me how to determine their spiritual gifts. This is a great question and one that every Christian who wants to serve the Lord faithfully should ask.
The question is so common people have developed surveys to help determine spiritual gifts.
Here are five ways to help us determine the gifts the Holy Spirit’s given us…
1. Pray God Reveals Your Spiritual Gifts to You
God has given everyone at least one gift:
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”Ephesians 4:7-8
Typically we give people gifts for the benefit and/or pleasure of the recipient. God gifts us gifts to benefit others:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:1 Peter 4:10
Since God has given us gifts and wants us to use them to serve Him and others, we can be sure He wants us to recognize the gifts we have. We can pray for God to reveal our gifts to us and be confident this is a request He wants to answer.
2. Learn the Spiritual Gifts in Scripture
There are two primary passages listing the gifts:
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.Romans 12:6-8
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Unless you have familiarity with the spiritual gifts, you’ll never know what gifts you might have. As you read the passages, consider which gifts you might have.
These passages aren’t exhaustive lists so much as they’re palettes helping us understand what the gifts look like. For example, some people are gifted musically, but even though music is prominent in the church it isn’t listed as a gift. We shouldn’t assume that just because something isn’t listed it isn’t a ‘”real” gift.
3. Consider What You Enjoy Doing
From my own personal experience, and from what I’ve seen in other’s lives, it seems like most people enjoy using their gifts. Similarly, they’re fairly comfortable using their gifts.
Using myself as an example, I enjoy teaching and all the studying associated with it. While many people list public speaking as one of their fears, I’m usually comfortable in front of others. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned. But I would dread singing publicly.
To provide some balance to this, it could still be challenging for some people to use their spiritual gifts. This doesn’t mean they aren’t gifted that way, it just means they’re going to be stretched some in the exercise of it. When I first started preaching, I was excited, but also very nervous.
4. Look for Validation from Others
If you think you’re gifted to lead:
- People should follow you and look to you for direction.
- There shouldn’t be countless people frustrated when you’re in charge.
If you think you’re gifted musically:
- You should receive compliments when singing.
- You shouldn’t see people cringing and putting their fingers in their ears.
If you think you have the gift of teaching:
- People should come to hear you teach. We don’t seek praise, and when we receive it we do our best to deflect it, but we should receive some positive feedback on our message.
- You shouldn’t take over a bible study and the numbers drop significantly.
If you think you have the gift of mercy:
- People should seek you out when they’re hurting.
- You shouldn’t have people confronting you about your tone and insensitivity.
5. Be Involved in the Body of Christ
This encouragement might be more important than the others. Hermits and pew potatoes never learn their spiritual gifts. If you aren’t in fellowship, even if you suspect what your gift is, you can’t use it for God’s glory and the saints’ edification.
Involvement in the body of Christ is when:
- You’ll be asked to do certain things.
- You’ll feel inclined to minister and serve in certain ways.
- You’ll start saying to yourself, “I feel like I should…”
A Final Note: Serve Outside Your Gifting
You might not be gifted a certain way, but it doesn’t mean you don’t serve in that way. Serving, giving, and encouraging are listed as gifts, but nobody should say:
- “I have the gift of exhortation, but I don’t have the gift of service. So I’ll exhort people, but don’t expect me to serve!”
- “I have the gift of ministry, but I don’t have the gift of giving. So I’ll minister to people, but don’t expect me to give!”
- “I have the gift of leadership, but I don’t have the gift of encouragement. So I’ll lead, but don’t expect me to encourage!”
The reason we can’t say these things is there are places in Scripture commanding all believers to be merciful and serve.
- In the Sermon on the Mount, in Luke 6:36, Jesus told His disciples, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
- Ephesians 4:11-12 says pastors and teachers (who we typically think are the ones gifted to be in ministry) are supposed to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. So all saints should see themselves in ministry!
- Evangelists are listed as one of the other offices, as opposed to a spiritual gift. Just because people don’t see themselves as evangelists doesn’t mean they shouldn’t share the Gospel. This is a call given to every believer: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
What does it mean when people have gifts that are commanded of everyone, such as mercy, giving, ministry, and service? It means people with these gifts will find mercy, giving, ministry, and serving easier. But all believers are expected to do all four.
Discussion Questions for the Comments Section:
- How did you learn your spiritual gift(s)?
- Have you found using your spiritual gifts enjoyable and comfortable?
- Can you think of some other ways to determine our gifts?
Are spiritual gifts only used in the church? Is your spiritual gift not used as you encounter people in your day to day life? If not why? The assessment I’ve seen tend to ask questions about what you do outside of church to guide you to determine your spiritual gift. Also
I’ve done several spiritual gift assessments in different denominations. Some focus on “some” gifts and omit others……for example some leave out the gift of discernment or gift of tongues. Some omit the gift of healing. Please comment on this.
Hello Ms. S,
No, our spiritual gifts are used outside the church as well. Yes, our spiritual gifts can be used as we encounter people in our daily lives.
Yes, I do think it’s appropriate to consider what you do outside of the church to determine your spiritual gifts. For example, if someone has the gift of leadership, it can be shown very easily in a secular profession.
Regarding the omission of certain gifts, I think you’re talking about the debate between cessation and continuation of the gifts; in other words, the debate about whether some of the gifts have ceased or continue for today.
I’m generally in the cessationist camp. I would recommend John MacArthur’s book, Charismatic Chaos. He makes a strong and biblical argument for some of the sign gifts, such as the miraculous ones, ceasing following the apostolic age. To be clear, this isn’t to say that God doesn’t heal people any longer. He still does. But that’s the difference: it is God healing people versus people having the ability to heal others.
I can see how it would be easy for a regular person to find their gifts but as a disabled person I am finding it to be quite a challenge.
I’m sure that as a disabled person it would be harder to figure out your spiritual gifts. We can be sure God has gifted you though. Perhaps the way God uses your gifts might look a little different. Perhaps simply faithfully attending and worshiping will be an encouragement to others. That is a gift in action!