Spiritual Gifts: Who Needs ‘Em?

This post is from the archives. However, members of my church family and I have been discussing spiritual gifts as of late. I forget how important and powerful the realization of your gifting truly is. With that in mind, I thought I would re-run this spiritual gift series.

I am also guest posting today over at Bianca Juarez’s blog, In the Name of Love. Bianca is a dynamo for Jesus, a powerful teacher, and worker in God’s Kingdom. I’m honored to appear on her blog today. Go show some love and check it out!

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Pet. 4:10)

I remember the day, the exact moment, that I discovered my spiritual gift. It was as if someone placed prescription glasses upon my face and what once was fuzzy became clear.
I suddenly understood why the actions of others made me want to scream with frustration. And still, why particular moments brought me such satisfaction and joy.

Since then, alongside my husband, I have been committed to helping other people see more clearly by plopping a pair of big thick spiritual gift glasses on their face.

First off, a lot of people it seems no longer believe in spiritual gifts. Or more specifically, many people only believe in certain spiritual gifts…and even then, they don’t believe those gifts are available to any believer.

Time to bust open ye olde Bible…

Paul starts  off in 1Corinthians 12 saying, “Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.” See, he already knew we would have the tendency to become ignorant regarding spiritual gifts.

He goes on to write:

“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.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,  to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,  to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”

I interpret these scriptures to say that the Holy Spirit deposits (at a minimum) one spiritual gift into every believer. My husband is of the thinking that some individuals, like Paul for example, can and do actually have more than one gift.

Sure, it sounds nice and cuddly and fluffy—we all have a special gift. Yippee. But God didn’t include this list within 1 Corinthians (and subsequently other areas of the Bible) to give us the warm and fuzzies. He included this description of spiritual gifts to equip and encourage us, the Church.

If this is true, however, why are so many people quick to dismiss spiritual gifts as a once-manifested-but-no-longer-needed phenomena?

For one thing, they are scared. People freak out upon hearing the word “prophet.” Heck, forget the word “prophecy.” You might as well just yell “fire.”

It seems to me that in order to squash that which they don’t understand or cannot control, (i.e. “prophets and their prophecy”) naysayers just proclaim a particular gift is “dead” or “inactive” or no longer available in this day and age.

I don’t know about you, but I think this day and age is screaming for a prophet…or two.

Likewise, the current American church structure downplays (or even ignores) “weaker” gifts like mercy, giving, administration, and service. Yet, it elevates other gifts like teachers and pastors.

We are told in the word that every gift is indispensable. No one can boast because they got hooked up with a shepherding gift or an apostle gift.

God does not play favorites. He distributes gifts in order to equip and build up the body. Spiritual gifts act as the motivation and inspiration behind why we do what we do. The truth is, we all need spiritual gifts and I believe if we call Jesus “Lord” we all have one.

You may be asking the question: Well, how do I discover my own spiritual gift? Stay tuned for a follow-up post next Monday where I will address that very question.

But for now, consider these questions Do you even believe in spiritual gifts? What has been your experience with them or with teachings on the subject? Do you happen to know your gift?

Pssst…tomorrow, I’ll have a follow-up post discussing how to determine your own spiritual gift, how to exercise such gifts, and I’ll share my own gifting with all of you.

19 thoughts on “Spiritual Gifts: Who Needs ‘Em?”

  1. Absolutely believe in Spiritual gifts and also that most American churches like to manage and manipulate them to their own ends. I can think of many guys I know with the gift of teaching or exhorting whose churches have done all they can to keep them from stepping into that gifting because they’re not “pastors.”

    As for my “gift”…well, I’ve taken a lot of tests that say I have certain gifts which I’ve never seen manifested. So I just stop worrying about it and do whatever’s in front of me.

  2. I just started reading your blog and wow, I’m blown away. Your posts are so relevant!

    When I was in college, I took a part-time job working as a children’s ministry assistant at my church. The pastor that I worked with was very detail oriented and organized. I learned so much about the behind the scenes of ministry. During one of my performance reviews, he told me that my spiritual gift was administration. I had no idea what that even meant, but it stuck with me.

    Not too long ago, our senior pastor did a series on spiritual gifts. Our small group did a short test to see what our gifts were, and sure enough-mine was administration. We went into detail describing all the gifts listed in the Bible and wow… my mind was blown!

    God is so gracious to us. Despite our sin, He not only made us His children but He gave us gifts too! As a young mom & wife, I always feel like I have do everything & sign up for everything at church. Now that I know more about why God has given me gifts, I can prayerfully say yes or no to opportunities.

    Thanks again for your blog, and this post!

  3. AMEN AMEN AMEN! Excellent post, fantastic topic! I completely believe in Spiritual gifts but I think Josh hit the nail on the head that most American churches manipulate them to their own ends. I also do not think that any spiritual gift is dead. I’m going to mention the scary one that tends to divide people. Tongues. I think tongues exists today and the Holy Spirit uses it to touch a person. But most churches that believe in the use of tongues only look at the tongues in Acts and not what Paul has to say about them in 1 Corinthians. If we follow what Paul says most people would experience this gift in private or with someone who could interpret/prophecize and it wouldn’t be the freak show antics of 100s of people screaming and flailing that we see in some churches today (which is the reason why so many other churches are afraid of this gift).

    I love that you mentioned mercy, giving, service and other “weaker” gifts. I think there is so much distorted teaching about spiritual gifts that many don’t understand or recognize when they are gifted with one (or more). At the same time I’ve heard people be told by “prophets” what their gift was and then pigeon holed themselves into a certain area that they didn’t seem gifted for. People like you and Jonathan are so needed to preach the truth about Spiritual gifts. You guys rock!

    1. Carla,

      “If we follow what Paul says most people would experience this gift in private or with someone who could interpret/prophecize and it wouldn’t be the freak show antics of 100s of people screaming and flailing that we see in some churches today (which is the reason why so many other churches are afraid of this gift).”

      BINGO! I want to take these comments out to dinner and dancing afterward, they are that beautiful.

      As a “charismatic”, (lookoutnow), I know full well the freakshow antics and emotional hoopla that most people associate with “tongue talkers” because I have seen them for myself up close and personal. It is embarrassing to say the least. I can picture Jesus doing a *facepalm* whenever it happens.

      I pray in tongues constantly. I do. I see what I am saying as visions and pictures in my head as I am praying. This way my spirit prays and my mind is fruitful. It has never been me “losing myself in the glory of Jeee-zuss!” and babbling on and on like some kind of clucking chicken having an epileptic seizure. My personal manifestation of tongues sounds like a mix of several earthly languages rolled into one. My bride likes it when she hears me praying. She knows I am getting down to a son’s business in the name of his Father.

      Anyhoos. I laughed outloud at your ‘freakshow’ comment. You and Mark are cut from the same cloth as I was. Scary, that. :)

      1. Yes cut from the same cloth indeed, and that is a bit scary! The list of similarities between you and Mark keeps growing, this man-date needs to soon!

        Mark also prays in the spirit/speaks in tongues often-though I’ve never seen him do it at church- especially not after a pastor commands the entire congregation to do so. Whenever there is a command to be moved by the Spirit and a frenzy ensues, Mark and I usually just stare blankly ahead or make scared faces at each other- this is not appreciated by those dancing and screaming. And the Jesus facepalm- classic.

        I have rarely spoke in tongues and it has always been in deep meditation on scripture and while I am alone. I’ve seen what some would call “visions” but most often I feel like God sends me messages when I clear my mind of my own thoughts (which can be a difficult endeavor). If I had to pick a spiritual gift I would say edification. There have been times when I’ve definitely had a message for people and I don’t feel like I have much control of the words coming out of my mouth- its usually a pretty moving experience. Anyways I’m rambling…thanks for sharing your gifts and your experience with tongues; your comment was awesomesauce (I’m I owe $0.03 for every time I use that word, I believe I’m up to six cents now.)

  4. Good words Nicole. I am from a camp that does not practice the seemingly “special” gifts. What bugs me is not that we don’t. What bugs me are those who do make those who don’t, feel like 1) second class citizens and 2) like they won’t get into heaven because they don’t have such-and-such a gift, or 3) they aren’t as close to jesus as they are. I can’t judge a subjective experience but please don’t go around telling me that because I don’t have it, I ain’t GOT IT! what makes me equally ticked off is what you mention here: the downplaying of what are seen as “lesser gifts.” Since when? Since when is mercy or generosity or service or exhortation any less than the “showy” gifts? sorry to have gotten on a soapbox but you touched a nerve. Can you tell? :) I do not disagree with what you say. I disagree with what so-called “righteous” people will say. Does that make sense?

    1. I like your soapbox Bill! I have been to and actually belonged to churches who make you feel like a second class citizen if you don’t have certain gifts and actually has those people come forward to be prayed over in hope that the gifts will be manifested right then and there! Talk about pressure! Because people are considered immature Christians or not as close to Jesus I think many people fake spiritual gifts so they can be part of the “in-crowd”. If these gifts are never manifested (in public) you just don’t fit in. It’s pretty sad and I’ve seen it all too often. And it gets me just as fired up as you are!

      1. Thanks Carla. You do bring up a good point: pressure. I have something to throw out about that. If pressure and/or guilt is applied (and it is), how can one be sure it is real and not faked? Second, I know people who claim these special gifts but their lives are no different than before. Teens mistreat their parents, etc. Third, whatever happened to the teaching that not everyone receives the same gifts? The gifts are for the edifying of the Body, correct? Varying gifts is the way the Bible puts it. So…how can one be more important than another?

  5. Do you even believe in spiritual gifts? What has been your experience with them or with teachings on the subject? Do you happen to know your gift?

    My goodness but I do so enjoy your questions and blog posts, Nicole. You’re like a “Christian Steakhouse” that also serves potatoes with every meal. (It will make sense if you think it over.) :)

    I know exactly what my gifts are:
    Any gift that the Spirit puts on me and in me at any given moment or confronted situation that calls for such a manifestation of His power.

    Like Jason, I kinda lean towards the ‘doing what’s in front of me’ mindset.


    I know I flow in faith, discernment, and tongues. Does this sound arrogant for me to say this? I do know the gifts that our Father has given me specifically for the edification of His Bride.

    As to calling, which is different than giftings, (as you well know), I am a prophet due to my inability to separate myself from His Holiness, His Truth, and His Sovereignty. I do not have the same struggles as are common to men. So much of this World is a joke to me. I have no time nor tolerance for double-minded Christianity. And so on and so on. (You have elements of this, too, Nicole. But if I were to measure you, I would say your spiritual gift is discernment.)

    Looking forward to Monday, Monday, Monday…so good to me.

  6. Nicole,

    Forgot to say:

    As a litmus test when speaking to someone about spiritual gifts, I like to simply mention “tongues”. In 20 seconds of doing so, I can see their theology as clear as day, based on their reaction.

    My fave is the person who immediately responds with, “Well, not everyone has that gift!”, implying that their experiences thus far with tongues has left them angry and skeptical.

    Just a passing observation.

    I think it would be something to break this barrel of monkeys wide open. I have been asking our Dad if He would allow me to video myself praying in the Spirit so people could see and judge for themselves if I am a soldier of the devil because I pray in tongues.

    I know many would expect me to babble incoherently and with overdramatic emotionalism like the Pentecostals do on TBN. That so ain’t me or how the Spirit moves in me.

    Like I said, I am still asking our Dad about it. He hasn’t said Yes or No.

  7. I love 1 Corinthians 12:21 – 22 so much that I built my whole blog around it…

    21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable”

    I think one of a church’s priorities should be to find a job for everyone who walks through its door. Think of what an important job the person who holds the door and hands out programs has. They are the first person a visitor sees. What about the people who serve coffee, or the ones who work with children or the ones who pick up the trash after service? See how much a church can grow if these “weaklings” weren’t there.

    We ALL have a role to play in kingdom building. Some roles are slightly more glamorous than others, but all of them are equally important.

  8. As usual Nicole, you stir up a great topic. Our gifts are what we use to love, encourage, edify, build up, bear with and serve one another. When the gifts are diminished as unnecessary we are diminishing the equipment God gave us to serve Him and one another. When we glorify gifts and use them as means to glorify ourselves we pervert His gifts into tools of sin and violate their very purpose. While I have seen plenty of both over the years neither extreme nor their countless variations in any way negate the clear statement of scripture that they are given to us by God that we may serve Him and one another.

  9. This is so fitting with what I am going thru at this time in my life. For the longest time I thought my spiritual gift was my job as a Christian therapist… I am realizing that yes, that is one of my gifts… but my job is not the whole of me, and not my only gift.
    God spoke to me one day, and told me that it is my job to bring peace, joy, and laughter to the world. And it dawned on me… when I had been putting everything into my job, as my only spiritual gift, I was limiting myself, and no wonder I was so unhappy.
    So I am working on changing this… branching out, joining groups, giving back.. and making people laugh (a gift I recieved from my Grandma and my Dad).

    1. Tricia,
      I’d love for you to come back tomorrow and read the follow-up post that can actually help you determine your primary spiritual gifting.

      I think you’d be blessed. It can make such a huge difference in understanding our place and role in the Body.

  10. I have been wondering about spiritual gifts for awhile now. I was brought up with the same views that you express; everyone has at least one etc. But i’m not so sure that we haven’t missed the point. I guess i’m not in the same camp as the rest of your respondents. I’ve taken all kinds of tests to determine my spiritual gift and the only one i’ve come up with is pessimism ;)

    We enter into these arguments about whether or not they exist anymore, and we’re primarily talking about miracles, prophecy etc. I think that maybe spiritual gifts always have and always will exist and the discussion about miracles, prophecy, etc is actually a separate issue.

    Is there actually any supernatural dimension to a spiritual gift, or is it merely using what your good at in the service of God? It could be that as you use what you have for God that he blesses that work, because it is advancing the Kingdom of God, but I don’t know that it is necessarily supernaturally bestowed on someone.

    In my experience, people who are constantly looking for, and never finding, their spiritual gift (which is seems to be most Christians) end up not doing anything much for the Kingdom, because they’re waiting for some lightning bolt to show them the way. When, what they should be doing is using whatever ability they have for God. In some ways the quest for the supernatural spiritual gift is hampering our ability to be true Kingdom messengers not enhancing it.

  11. I know this post is older but I just started reading it today. I was on another post and my computer acted up and now I cannot find it. I really wanted to weigh in on this topic because it has been a great source of grief for me and I find that so sad.
    I have taken so many spiritual gifts test. My strongest gifts are Shepard/Pastor. This always surprised me because I am extremely shy. I do not like to stand in front of people or public speaking. I know this is a true gift because God has put me in public speaking positions that I thought I would throw up and when I open my mouth He takes over.
    My frustration is that I do not feel like I have opportunity to grow my gift. When ever I would like to lead a class or anything of that nature I get told there are enough teachers or there is no room for that, etc. I am also frustrated in the church because I do not see real authentic disciples that are growing in Jesus. What I mean is I am tired of “doing church” and my hearts desire is to “be the church” but I get blank stares like I am speaking another language. I have realized that over the past year I have some what become isolated. My spiritual mentor told me it is because I am too much of an open book and share too freely about my own struggles. It convicts people and they don’t want to share so they push me aside so they do not have to look at themselves. What kind of gift is that? Honestly, if it falls into a gifting I would be surprised because it doesn’t feel like one? Any suggestions/advice would be appreciated. Especially from all you who have the gift of exhortation :-)

    1. Therein lies one of the problems with the whole spiritual gifts test concept. One of the criteria is normally; “what are other people telling you?” Apparently they aren’t encouraging you in the Shepard/Pastor thing. So, is the test flawed? This is the problem when we rely too heavily on a literal reading of scripture and refuse to let it’s spirit lead us. We start to put God into a box of our own creation. Maybe you don’t have the gift of Shepard/Pastor. Maybe your gift is your ability to relate to those who are going through struggles. Maybe your gift is just to be with those who are hurting or questioning (depends on how you’re defining struggles), and being able to understand them.

      By the way, don’t become discouraged about wanting to “be church”, you’re not alone. There are probably many people in your church who feel the same way, but are afraid to speak out. That’s what we found. But take encouragement in the fact the number is going day by day, worldwide.

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