Pastor Billy Graham* has had a lot to say about the five spiritual gifts listed in Ephesians 4. Many would say about those gifts: I am not an evangelist and I have never felt like I could pastor a church. Certainly I can’t evangelize. I am not sure apostle should be attached to my name. I have had some good teachers in Bible studies and Sunday school but I can’t do that.
What is my spiritual gift?
Before I turn to the next chapter entitled “Further Spiritual Gifts”, let’s discuss that question because it is very important. Remember, if you are a child of God, you have been given gifts. Gifts that were selected by God just for you. God intends for you to use your gifts for the furthering of His Kingdom here on earth, for His glory. When we choose to ignore our gifts, God is “grieved.” Ephesians 4: 30 states “Don’t grieve God. Don’t break His heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.”
First of all, when we ignore God’s spiritual gifts we may be ignoring the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Maybe you are too busy to even pay attention to God’s urging. Maybe you are too fearful; you don’t have enough faith that you can accomplish God’s tasks. Maybe you have tried to perform a task or two and you have met failure; now you are hesitant. The bottom line may be that you are not discerning His will in your life. Too often we try to force ourselves to do things that we think we can do, but we can’t. We don’t really have the skills and our efforts are not bearing fruit. Look at the evidence. Look at how you are performing your work. Are your efforts helping others? Is the work hard for you to do? Are you struggling?
People who follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance when it comes to spiritual gifts produce good results. The work is easy because God is leading them every step of the way and they are responding to His leading. They know they are utilizing their gift because it is so surprisingly easy.
Examine your motives. Is your work for God a product of your desire? Some people just want to be better than everyone else. Some want power and they take on high profile jobs just to shine before others. Others assume that just because they are good in one job, they will be good in a related job. A teacher in public school may think they would naturally be good in the Sunday school classroom but that is not necessarily so. A mom may love her kids, so naturally she would be an excellent nursery work. That is not necessarily so. Someone who manages a business may be perfectly awful managing a ministry in a church.
We should not overemphasize this but listen to feedback from others. Are people saying things to you like, “You are a wonderful missions team leader.” Maybe someone says that your Scripture reading skills are inspiring. Maybe the choir has grown and is sounding better under your tutelage, so maybe church music is really your gift. We can be confused by comments from others. Sometimes people say things to flatter us. Some people really attend to positive comments because they need some ego inflation. Some confirmation is not helpful; it can be hurtful if the reality is that you are not doing well in your work and you just believe flattery.
Too often we think of spiritual gifts as ways to serve others and of course they are, but we never need to forget that they are also for our own development. God wants us to grow in our faith and what better way to do that than for us to take a chance and do His will. Maybe we are ill at ease, maybe we don’t see how we are going to handle the financial commitment required. Maybe we are only seeing barriers and not seeing pathways. At times like these, God shows up.
God loves for us to work for Him. If what you think you can do is before you, you will soon know you are doing His work as you produce fruit. You will know you are doing His work if you are surprised at the ease of the work. You will know you are doing His work if you are happy doing it.
Yes, not all of us are going to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers. Those gifts may not be your gift but that does not mean that God has not placed a gift in your life, a special way to do His work.
I recently heard someone say “If you have a pulse, you have a purpose.” I truly feel that applies when we consider working for God. God put all of us here for a reason.
It is up to us to utilize our spiritual gifts.
It is up to us to do His work…
*Graham’s book The Holy Spirit