So how do you determine what your spiritual gifts are? I don’t think there is one thing that will tell you or confirm it. I believe you need multiple converging reference points that point you toward a particular gift or set of gifts. Here several of those reference points. I am sure there are more:
- Others – what do you find other people saying about you? Ask several people what they feel you are gifted at and listen for commonality. They may see something you never noticed and that an inventory would have never picked up on.
- Scripture – It is hard to know what you are gifted at if you are out of touch and communication with God, the one who gives the gifts. The more we immerse ourselves in scripture the easier it is for it to illuminate our lives.
- Prayer – Do some asking.
- Spiritual gifts inventories – Now this may leave you scratching your head. Here you thought I was trashing them and then I say they are good. I think they have a place but need to be considered along with the other four items in this list.
- Opportunity – You may never figure out all your gifts or fine tune them and to be honest I really don’t think it matters that much. Do you think Paul was paralyzed in his missionary journey until Luke showed up with the newest spiritual gift inventory? Nope. He just got to work with whatever opportunities presented themselves. I think the more we engage in ministy the clearer our gifts will be.
The point here is to find commonality across multiple reference points. None of these alone are sufficient but taken together the picture becomes clearer. Last, I am not trying to uniformly bash spiritual gifts tests and inventories. I am raising a red flag if we think they are the end all of determining our gifts. I think real life is a better determiner of the gifts God has given us and the ones that really matter will reveal themselves over time. I don’t think we need to sit on our hands or go unused because we haven’t figure these things out. The point is to be used, not to spend our time processing what our gifts are or aren’t.
One last point…I wonder how many people don’t do certain things or avoid certain opportunities because they believe, “that is just not my gift.” I wonder if we have fine tuned the life right out of spirituality and processed it to death or at least paralysis. That is hard for me to say because I am a stats and testing junkie who loves to process things but I am afraid it is true.