I can’t tell you how many spiritual gifts tests I’ve taken in my life. About 97000. They all say the same thing – exactly what I want them to say. This is not to say that they are worthless. They aren’t worthless. I think it’s a good starting point for someone who wants to find out what their strengths are. There are better tests for this though, such as StrengthsFinder, which is a wonderful resource.
The thing about these tests is, you answer about 100 questions based on current performance or activities, and it generates a report that has a description of a spiritual gift, followed by a number. The higher the number, the more gifted you are in a certain area.
Just for reference, here is a list of spiritual gifts: exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy, prophecy, service, teaching, administration, apostleship, discernment, faith, healing, helping, knowledge, miracles, tongues, interpretation, wisdom, evangelism, pastor, hospitality, martyrdom, missions, voluntary poverty. These are listed in the bible in various places – Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 for starters.
Again, I don’t think these tests are the best indicator of what a person’s gifting is. Why? Well – every time I take one, I score very high in teaching, knowledge and discernment, very low in mercy, giving and helping. And believe me, I can teach. I can preach a sermon like crazy. Sometimes I just know stuff. And it’s weird the stuff I can know. Often I can tell what’s going on in your mind just by looking into your eyes, or by putting my hand on your shoulder, or by shaking your hand. I often have insight that is not explainable.
Thing is, I’m not teaching or preaching anywhere. I haven’t met anyone new recently that I can use my Jedi mind tricks on. Sometimes I get a feeling when I’m at work about something or someone but so far it hasn’t led to anything earth shattering.
I’m not complaining – I’m making a point. Where I am in life right now, those things that the tests say I’m best at don’t matter. The things I scored very low on – like a 1 or a 3 – helping and mercy specifically – these are the things I use every day. And I have to say, for someone who scored so low in those things on some random test, I seem to be pretty good at them.
I wonder if these lists of spiritual gifts that we see in the bible are exhaustive? Is that all of them? Or are there as many gifts as there are needs in the Body of Christ?
If you read 1 Corinthians 12, there’s a lot of good info there on gifts and how they are distributed. Verse 11 in particular seems to indicate that God will give whatever gift he wants to whoever he wants to give it to. I wonder if the giving of the gifts might be situational?
When I was a youth minister and pastor, my main function was teaching, plus some administration which I tended to delegate, because ugh. Administration. I also had a lot of insight into people, and I still do. But I didn’t have much mercy, and as far as actual pastoral abilities, well, I kinda stunk at that – counseling, hand holding, being there when there was trouble. Just point me to the pulpit and let me loose.
I spent my energy developing my teaching/preaching gifts and didn’t even care if there were any others. Now my role is almost the opposite. Nobody cares what I have to say – they care what I am going to do for them, to help them, to get them through whatever it is they are going through. And as I said before, I’m actually very good at it. God gave me something new so I could build the Kingdom where I’m at!
That’s my whole point in all this – build the Kingdom! That’s what the gifts are for, that’s why God gives them. If an opportunity presents itself where you need to step up and do something, don’t think, “That’s not my gift. I’m more of a ____________.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard those words, and I’ve even said them myself a few times.
It’s fear, and sometimes laziness. You might not be a gifted evangelist, but we are all commanded to evangelize!
What it really comes down to is what Paul calls the greatest gift of all – love. Read 1 Corinthians 13. Without love, the use of any and all gifts is self serving. Withouth love, you will bring attention to yourself and not God. Withough love you build yourself and your organization up, but not the Kingdom. Without love, you’re just a bag of wind, and eventually people will see right through you.
Love is what makes the difference. Love is what makes people see God in you and not just you! And who wants to see me, right? If I’m not pointing you back to God in everything I do, I’ve failed in everything I do!
The point of it all is love – God is love, and he should flow through us, through the proper use of the gifts he gives us, to point straight back to him. That’s when things really get good! That’s when people’s lives are changed! That’s when the world around us begins to change!
What do you think God is saying to you right now? About yourself, your gifting, your calling? What is he asking you to do? Who and how is he asking you to love?