We've been highlighting our most-viewed External Focus posts from 2016 (you can read the first two here and here). Our final "look back," from over a year ago, answers a common question in an uncommon way.
Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? Are you using them to impact others?
Spiritual gifts can be defined or described in various ways, but basically they're God-given, God-empowered abilities to serve others. (See 1 Corinthians 12), Romans 12:3-8, and 1 Peter 4:10-11, among other passages.) Not only does Scripture say that every Christian has at least one spiritual gift, it also says we should be using our gifts in order to be good stewards of what God has given us.
But for many of us, that creates a problem:
If I have a spiritual gift, and God commands me to use them, but there are lots of different gifts... how can I discover what my spiritual gifts are?
Whether you're new to thinking about spiritual gifts or have a good handle on the topic, keep reading...
One way many people begin determining their spiritual gifts is through a "spiritual gifts inventory," a sort of test that helps a person think about potential gifts. (For example, Watermark offers this inventory you can do alone or in community.)
Tests like these make us consider which service activities connect best with our passions and abilities, or how God seems to "use us the most" in serving others. Ultimately, these inventories can provide a great starting point for realizing our spiritual gifts.
But while tests like this can help, there's only one way to determine your spiritual gifts for sure: using them!
Each spiritual gift is simply a way of serving others "for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7). So as you place yourself in more and more service opportunities, you'll start to notice the ways you're especially passionate about serving. You'll discover how you serve most effectively. And most importantly, you'll notice the venues and opportunities in which God Himself seems to work through you the most clearly.
Even when you take a spiritual gifts test, you're simply asked about ways you've served before. (If you're only answering the questions hypothetically, your results may be wrong!) And sometimes spiritual gift inventories focus on only one angle of discovering your gifts - whether it's your passions, your talents, or your experiences.
But getting out there and serving allows you to examine your potential giftings "in real life."
Look back at the very first line of this blog, and the first questions I asked:
"Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? Are you using them to impact others?"
The truth is, if you can't answer Yes to the second question, then you can't really answer Yes to the first.
So go ahead, take a spiritual gifts test or talk to friends about what they think your gifts are. But then take the opportunity to serve people in those ways - and some other ways, too. You might find some awesome confirmation of your spiritual gifts, or you might be surprised by ones you didn't know you had.
Either way, you'll be discovering more about your identity in Christ and the gifts God has given you... and you'll become one of the "faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms" (1 Peter 4:10)