Saturday, June 30, 2012

Gifts for the Common Good

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit...Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church (1 Corinthians 14:1, 12).

Every believer is the recipient of at least one spiritual gift freely given by God. A gift can’t be conjured up, or willed or merited: it is by His wonderful grace that we receive these good gifts to serve Him and the Church.

I have taken more than one spiritual gift inventory, but, as Nora Ephron famously wrote, “I remember nothing.” I honestly don’t remember what these inventories revealed, probably because after reading the results, I was busy chasing after toddlers. What became a more effective method of determining how God gifted me to participate in His kingdom was trial and error over time.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7).

Our spiritual gifts may be deeply entwined with our natural strengths, but when we are empowered to follow God, our natural gifts take on a whole new dimension and meaning. I have found that to be the case for me.  I have been singing and writing since I was a small child--I was no prodigy and didn’t have much guidance or know-how for expanding those gifts beyond the usual, but they were definite areas of interest and strength.

As I grew as a believer, my natural gifts took on a new dimension. For instance, I discovered I could not only enjoy worship (which I did not early on, because I was reserved and too embarrassed to show my joy) but I could also lead worship effectively. Through being mentored and encouraged by more experienced worship leaders who saw in me what I could not, I was able to step out in faith and discover how God could use me to help the Church to worship. Taking risks is an important part of growing in the gifts God gives.

My ability to write is intertwined with gifts of teaching and guidance.  I want to encourage and help others to grow in the Word, in their faith and in individual growth and empowerment.  The trial and error method continues, as I seek God’s guidance for specifics on how I am to use these gifts.

Last year I created a weekly summer Bible study that combines my love to write, to teach and to serve/be hospitable: I host “Stories on the Porch” at my home, complete with a front porch, an original Bible study, scones and tea.  Those attending asked me all year if we could do it again, and now it is an annual event.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms (1 Peter 4:10).

For those who struggle in identifying the spiritual gifts God has given them, I suggest seeking the insight of a trusted, mature believer. Inventories are also a good tool, but so is listing one's passions and interests, and the gifts/talents inherent in those areas. No one is left out from participating and expanding God's kingdom--and as long as we grow our gifts in love and service to others, we bring glory to our generous Creator.

1 comment:

Andrea York said...

Leading worship is truly a gift, I discovered that when I stepped in to lead worship one day because there was no one else. Sometimes nothing is better than someone who is not anointed for it.