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For most of my life, I avoided diving into the topic of spiritual gifts because of the varying interpretations I heard. I always figured that every skill I have is a gift from God, so I don't need to understand precisely what a "spiritual gift" means. But the more I read the Bible, the more I discover the importance of every concept it conveys. God gave us every part of His Word for a reason, and He wants us to study His desires for our purpose.
What are spiritual gifts?
It may seem like a simple question, but the answer is a subject of debate. If you haven't spent much time around "church people," it can cause a lot of confusion when you receive different definitions of a term you may have never heard before. The broad understanding of spiritual gifts is that they are expressions of the Holy Spirit acting through us to build God's Kingdom. But what does that include? Are there only a few specific gifts that are set apart? Or do these gifts include our many individual skills that work for God's glory? When we look at the places where the Bible talks about our spiritual gifts, we can see a wide range of areas they cover. The most defining factor of a spiritual gift versus born talent is that a spiritual gift comes directly from God's Spirit when we follow Him. The Bible tells us to use these gifts to support and grow the family of God.
"We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." - Romans 12:6-8
How do I know what my spiritual gifts are?
Nowadays, you can look up "What are my spiritual gifts?" the same as any other online personality test. The thing is, the whole point of our spiritual gifts is that they don't come from the world, and therefore, the world can't tell us what we need to know. When we want to learn more, we should seek counsel from others who study God's Word, but ultimately our answers come from the Holy Spirit.
I have always felt the pull to evangelism and administration as goals in my calling, but I've learned that encouragement is the spiritual gift that leads me to practice those things. Encouraging others is something that I often don't feel like doing or know how to do, yet it's the way God leads me to connect with people or move things forward. It's an area that I consistently feel convicted to grow in. It's not just about saying nice things to people; it's an urgency to encourage others through my life goals. When you draw near to God, what areas does He lead you to grow in? Those ways may be different from your realized talents. For example, you may use your spiritual gifts to help bring others closer to God but have different "gifts'' that move you forward in your professional and creative goals. All of our talents are gifts from God, but our spiritual gifts serve the sole purpose of building up God’s Kingdom.
Here are some of the spiritual gifts that the Bible mentions:
(If you sign up for an account on our website, you can get a free spiritual gift assessment!)
In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul offers some guidance and says, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work."
The important thing to remember is, it's not as much about the what as it is the why. The “what” does matter because God gives us specific gifts for a reason, but His purpose is what we need to focus on. We don't need to "figure out" our gifts to get closer to Him; we figure things out through our closeness to Him. The more time we spend receiving God's Spirit, the more we learn about ourselves and our roles in His family.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.