Spiritual Gifts in the Church

spiritual-gifts-in-the-churchHow important are spiritual gifts in the church? Do you realize that if you don’t use your spiritual gifts in the church, other people suffer because of it?

I’ve been a member of a couple of larger churches and a few smaller churches over the course of my life. I’ve also seen how churches function in other countries, since I’ve spent half my life overseas. Smaller churches (and overseas churches) have a larger proportion of people using their spiritual gifts because people can see that there is a need, and they fill the need in their area of strength, if they are allowed to do so. (In overseas churches especially, even new converts are actively using their spiritual gifts to the edification of the church.) On the other hand, many larger churches here in the States seem self-sufficient. In these larger churches, it’s sometimes impossible to be put into certain positions because there are too many leaders. For example, many women have told me that I have the spiritual gift of teaching, but unless you’re an elder’s wife in the large churches, you’re not really allowed to use your spiritual gift.

Many people don’t like some of the spiritual gifts and avoid Christians who are gifted in discernment or in exhortation. People don’t want to know if they are in error, because it makes them uncomfortable. And if they are sinning, they don’t want someone to confront them. I don’t have these particular spiritual gifts, but I know people who do. Instead of seeking after holiness, most Christians seek their own comfort, and they label people with these spiritual gifts as being divisive. So these spiritual gifts are silenced in the church for the sake of unity, even though Jesus confronted people all the time with clear words. Mature believers with the gift of discernment or exhortation usually have a deep knowledge of Scripture and how it applies to given situations. You almost have to be in a position of leadership for these two gifts to be used at all. Unfortunately, most of these people are not type A personalities, so they are never considered for leadership, even if they have a mature walk with God.

If people have the gift of mercy but leave immediately after the church service, they never know the spiritual needs of people who are suffering. I have the gift of mercy as one of my secondary gifts. (It’s actually the opposite of my personality because I’m a blunt and honest person and don’t care that much about feelings. It just shows that God can manifest Himself in your life in ANY of the spiritual gifts at any given time, if you are willing.) On this one occasion when a woman from my church was dying, I was called. My presence in the room of the dying woman gave everyone a deep spiritual comfort that was tangible. I had an exquisite joy that can only be found while giving comfort and hope to those who are experiencing sorrow. Basically, if you have the gift of mercy and are not using it in the church, you are allowing other people to scream in anguish with no one to help them.

So are you ready to find out what your spiritual gift is? Print out your inventory here:

The danger of taking a spiritual gifts inventory is that you will pigeon-hole yourself into one spiritual gift and get a big head about it, when in reality, the gifts of the Spirit are fluid and constantly changing depending on the circumstances that God has placed you in. Back in my college days, I took a spiritual gifts inventory that blasted the top off the faith category, but had zero in the area of mercy. There are seven people in total that God has taken me over and displayed the gift of mercy to. I crossed over and became them, I felt their pain as if it were my own, and I was able to be a deep comfort to those seven people over the course of the last decade. But if I see someone hurting or sick or poor, I feel nothing. So I don’t have that spiritual gift in general, only when the Holy Spirit comes upon me because He has chosen me to minister to a specific person only. That’s why I say it’s a secondary gift.

I believe that most Christians have multiple gifts, and that they should be open to being used by God in ANY area. Gifts are referred to as “manifestations of the Spirit,” so don’t cram yourself into a box, and don’t limit what God can do in your life. Also, don’t be proud of your gift, as if you did it. The more you let God use you for His purposes, the more He will surprise you by using you in your areas of weakness so that He alone is glorified.

 

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12 Responses to “Spiritual Gifts in the Church”

  1. Yoora says:

    Wow! So much truth to this (and very well said)!

    I agree with you when you say that some spiritual gifts are silenced in the church for the sake of “unity” – it’s quite unfortunate. If only everyone would use their spiritual gifts to build up the church and each other… as God had intended.

    Also, my primary and secondary gifts are teaching and mercy too, in that order! Interesting. 🙂

  2. Emily says:

    I like your point about smaller vs larger churches. It certainly is more difficult to use your gifts in a large church were there are so so many other people seemingly jumping at the chance to use theirs as well – and rightly so! I suppose being involved and active in a Bible study or home group can give you the opportunity to use your gifts more often if you are in a larger church

    • Susan says:

      You can definitely use your spiritual gifts more in smaller settings like Bible studies and small groups. It’s hard to plug in anywhere if you are a part of a mega church.

  3. Tiffany says:

    This reminds me of the scripture texts that likens the church to one body with many members…and how when one member of the body fails to do it’s part it causes the rest of the body a level of dysfunction.

    I am on my own journey right now wherein I’m asking God…what is it you’ve called me to do specifically. I want to do my part, I strongly believe writing is a part of that. Thank you for your awesome words!

    • Susan says:

      If everyone were to ask God what they should be doing specifically, the load would be so much less for the leaders in the church, and all our needs would be met by the body of believers.

  4. Katie says:

    We all ought to be involved and looking for needs and opportunities to be a blessing in our local churches. God has promised to work through His church and He raises us up to meet the needs together that He presents to us.

  5. I have never understood why people underestimate the gifts of the Spirit. Our God is a giving God who designed each of us with unique gifts to honor and glorify Him. However, I have heard many times people denying their gifts because they do not want to be obligated in using their gifts. It is sad for them and the body of Christ.

    • Susan says:

      We will give an account to God on the day of judgment for refusing to use our spiritual gifts and talents. The parable of the man who buried his gift under the ground was told “you wicked slave.” We want to be approved by God.

  6. Alice Mills says:

    The gifts of the Holy Spirit must be practiced in order for us to discern what is Him and what is not. Our fears prevent us from coming into the full anointing available to us. Mistakes will be made. Mistakes will be forgiven.

    • Susan says:

      We should not hold back just because we are new at something. You are right–it doesn’t matter if we make mistakes as we learn to use our spiritual gift.

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