Spiritual Gifts: Start With God, Not Spiritual Gifts Inventories

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Don’t you wish determinig your spiritual gifts was as easy as opening the box in that picture? We untie the twine and peer inside and there it is, all nice and neat! The truth is it is not that easy. IT is also not as easy as trying to come up with a list of what we think we are gifted at and then follow that up with a list of what opportunities potentially match those gifts and then get to work. I think that approach is flawed because it has the wrong starting point. In fact, I am going to take it a step further. Spiritual gifts inventories, when used as the sole determiner for spiritual gifts, are flawed. I think they have some strengths but I think the weakness of these inventories is that we use them as a single reference point to determine our gifts rather than just one data point among many other reliable, determining factors. I will deal with that in a separate post.

The one who defines our spiritual gifts is the one who created them, God. Paper and pencil measures can be helpful but any conversation about spiritual gifts has to start with God. If you start with self you are messed up before you even start. If you start with self you just end up with a list of gifts of things you enjoy and that make you happy but they may not be your real gifts. Our enjoyment level of any given spiritual activity has been the key determining factor of what we believe our spiritual gifts are and I think that is mistaken. If my gifts are my own creation then I don’t need to consult God about it…I can just do what makes me happy. Since our gifts come from God, God has a say in what those gifts are and in how we use them. God is concerned less about our gifts making us happy and more about making an eternal difference.

When Paul told Timothy that he needed to “fan into flame the gift of God” in 2 Timothy 1:6 Paul starts out by mentioning God or Jesus at least 5 times in 2 Tim 1:1-7. He also tells him to remember or that he is reminding him another 4 times in those 7 verses. Before Paul teaches and encourages Timothy in regards to the gifts God has given him he starts off with the importance of remembering all this comes from God. These are God’s gift to us, they are not our own. God is a better definer of gifts that paper and pencil spiritual gifts inventories. I will have another post on some factors that help us determine our gifts in the coming days.

Have you ever wondered how Timothy got anything done without having a 20 item spiritual gift inventory to tell him what he was good at? Have you ever asked yourself how Paul spread the Gospel across the known world in a decade with basically zero help from technology? The answer is God. They didn’t have to process and psychoanalyze everything. They prayed about it, God opened the doors and they got to work! Simple isn’t it?

How many times have you done spiritual things or made plans to minister without ever bothering to ask God what He would like to see happen? We come close to asking this question sometimes but still find ways to make it about us…like when we ask, “God, what do you want me to get out of this?” it is still about me and not about God. What if instead we just asked, “God, what is it that you want here?” in regard to the decisions we make on a regular basis? That question keeps God in the center of it all…it may not be about me at all, good! Not everything that is good is about me anyway.

So let’s stop making ourselves the single reference point in determining these things and give God his rightful place back as Lord. Let us not so over analyze and psychoanalyze everything so much that we miss opportunities to make an eternal difference that just that don’t fit our mold or expectations. Let us in all things get more concerned about the kingdom than about self. Let us understand that there may be some ways God has gifted me that don’t make me happy in the least and yet they are still important to be a part of.

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