Dr. Larry Gilbert

A practical look at how your spiritual gift relates to the many areas of your life.

Everywhere I go I find Christians asking the question, “What is my spiritual gift?” When in reality they need to ask, “What is a spiritual gift?” You see, the problem is not that Christians don’t know what their spiritual gifts are, the problem is that most Christians don’t know what a spiritual gift is. They do not understand the relationships of spiritual gifts. They don’t understand how a spiritual gift relates to their lives, how it relates to the lives of those people around them, how it relates to the local church or how it relates to the body of Christ as a whole. To give John J. Christian an additional name and make him John J. “Exhorter” Christian is only doing him an injustice.

Having a new name or title does not make you a better Christian or give you any more understanding of yourself or of those around you. Most contemporary material written on spiritual gifts does an adequate job of helping you recognize, discover, and determine what your spiritual gifts are. Also, many do a fine job of teaching about the individual members of the body. Unfortunately, however, few ever complete their teaching by assembling the body.

Teaching a person only what their spiritual gift is without teaching them what a spiritual gift is would be like giving someone a new tool without giving them the operator’s manual. They would never understand it fully nor be able to use it to its maximum potential. The same is true with spiritual gifts.

As a matter of fact, I discourage you from taking any spiritual gifts survey without also studying the principles that revolve around and relate to spiritual gifts. These principles, combined with recognizing one’s gifts, are proven to dramatically change lives and churches.

Close observation reveals nine identifying marks of a spiritual gift. An understanding of those characteristics will help you better understand how the spiritual gift you already have will help you serve the Lord more effectively. Each of these nine identifying marks of a spiritual gift are fully explained in the books referenced at the end of this article:

  1. Spiritual Gifts Are the Hands of God.
  2. A Spiritual Gift Is a Supernatural Capacity.

  3. A Spiritual Gift Is a Supernatural Desire.

  4. Spiritual Gifts Are the Tools for Doing the Work of the Ministry.

  5. A Spiritual Gift Is the Source of Joy in Your Christian Life.

  6. A Spiritual Gift Is a Divine Motivator.

  7. A Spiritual Gift Divinely Influences Motives or Reasons for Our Behavior.

  8. A Spiritual Gift Is a Divine Calling and Divine Responsibility

  9. Spiritual Gifts Are the Building Blocks of the Church.

A spiritual gift is not just a superficial name we add to a believer once he or she is saved. A spiritual gift is something that takes hold of a believer and manifests itself through his or her life.

Understanding our spiritual gifts removes the frustration and confusion from serving God.

When someone learns the definition of what a gift is, he or she realizes that it is not just another characteristic of the Spirit-filled life, but it is the way the Spirit-filled life manifests itself. What the Spirit-filled life is all about is for the believer to take the area where God has equipped him or her and put it into service for God.

Regardless of what gift is present in a believer’s life, it has certain affects on his or her life. The gift strongly influences the desires and motives of living and ministry. Each gift has characteristics that can influence a person’s motives both for good and bad. Because gifts are such a strong part of motives, we can truthfully say that when Christians are miserable in their area of service, chances are they are not exercising their God-given spiritual gifts.

People are motivated to action for two reasons: either they have to or they want to. Spiritual gifts are the “want to” of Christian service.

Dr. Larry Gilbert is founder and chairman of Ephesians Four Ministries, and founder of ChurchGrowth.org. For more on spiritual gifts, see Dr. Gilbert’s books from which this article was excerpted  Your Gifts: Discover God’s Unique Design for You (for individuals and small groups) and  Team Ministry: Gifted to Serve (for pastors and group leaders) published by ChurchGrowth.org Copyright © 2015 ChurchGrowth.org. Other Team Ministry spiritual gifts resources are shown below, including the Your Gifts Spiritual Gifts Survey. For a free online Spiritual Gifts Survey, click here

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