How to Operate in the Gifts of the Spirit

Summary: The Holy Spirit prompts us to use our gifts in different ways. Here are some foundations and principles for you to continue growing in your gifts and being a vessel for the Holy Spirit to minister through.


In my last post, I talked about how to walk with the Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit. In this post, I go over general principles of how to operate in the gifts the Spirit has entrusted to you.

Are you the kind of person who likes to help others? When you hear about another person’s needs, do you do everything you can help them? That’s exactly what the gifts of the Spirit are for, to minister to one another.

Spiritual gifts are a powerful tool of the Holy Spirit for Him to minister to others through you. As we focus on the gifts of the Spirit in the life of the disciple of Jesus, I want to impress core principles of how to operate in your gifts. When we know how to use our gifts to their greatest benefit for others, we are pleasing Jesus in the ministry He has for us. Let’s get started.

The Spirit Gives Gifts

One core principle of using your gifts to honor Jesus is to realize you are one member in a great body of believers. No one Christian has all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Instead, the Holy Spirit decides which gifts he gives to every individual (1 Corinthians 12:7).

Some people are not satisfied with the gifts the Holy Spirit gives them. They feel the gifts don’t fit. But the Holy Spirit knows exactly which gifts fit our personality, experience, and everything that makes us who we are. God knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139). We must realize as we learn how to use our gifts that the Holy Spirit knows best.

If you are an introvert, God will not give you public gifts, like prophecy, speaking in tongues, and interpretation. He will minister through you with gifts that the servant, background worker. If you are okay with being in front of people, you may get gifts that put you centerstage to dilemma got the message to His people.

We don’t choose the gifts we receive. We must become comfortable in our gifts and realize that the Holy Spirit sees ahead of us the gifts that we will be comfortable using. Let’s not become like the clay that asks the Potter, “Why did you make me like this?”

Members of One Body

Paul describes our gifts in the context of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). If you don’t like the gifts the Spirit gave to you, realize you are part of great cloud of witnesses. Each of us has a place in the body of Christ. And each of us is needed by the body for our gifts and who we are.

No one else can minister to others like you. God made you unique and special. He equips you in your gifts to minister to the body in your way. You are a gift to the Church. We need every person, every flavor of ministry, to be effective as the body of Christ. We need your unique style and administration of your gift.

The Holy Spirit has the foresight to give specific gifts to individuals, not giving all the gifts to one person. None of us can minister all the gifts. That would not make us unique ministers. If one person had all the gifts, no one else could minister with their gifts.

Instead, the Holy Spirit has a place just for you with your gifts. You fit in perfectly with these gifts and your person – who you are in Christ. We need every Christian and his or her gifts. Whether the Holy Spirit gives you one or several gifts, your place is to minister through them in the body of Christ.

Ministering to the Body

It is our privilege to minister to the body through the power of the Spirit working in us. This is where we sense that we belong to the body of Christ. As He ministers through us to others, we sense our purpose and value to other Christians and to the Lord.

God is so good to us as He chooses to work through us. We give Him all the glory. Our gifts are not about us. We are not special because we have these gifts. We are special because we open ourselves humbly to be used by the Holy Spirit for the encouragement of others. If we don’t see the ministry of the Spirit through us this humble way, we open ourselves up to misusing the gifts and ministering in the flesh instead of in the Spirit.

Seek to operate in the gifts of the Spirit for the blessing of others, not yourself. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak and move through you for the benefit of others around you. We must not become conceited, prideful, or envious of other people’s gifts. So much harm comes to the body through the misuse and abuse of the gifts of the Spirit.

Growing in your Giftings

Just as we grow in our walk with Jesus and learn how to live for Him in better ways, we also about our gifts and how to use them in more effective ways. No one receives the gift and knows exactly how to use it every time the Holy Spirit prompts them. We must all grow in effectiveness of our gifts.

How do we grow? One way is to study how our gifts are used in Scripture. The Scriptures explain our gifts. But there are also helpful ministry tips on how to use the gifts from others who have the same gifts. Many people like to get together with others with the same gifts and learn from one another.

There are helpful books and resources available for those who want to learn more about their gifts. It all starts with learning what gifts the Holy Spirit has entrusted to us. From spiritual gifts assessments, we can get an idea of what our gifts might be. These assessments are helpful, but it can also be manipulated if we are not honest in answering questions.

Do not try to pick a gift you want to have. Seek to understand what gives the Holy Spirit has placed in you to minister to the body. Once you know your gifts, seek to understand the gift better and learn all you can about them.

The best way to grow in your gifts is to use them when the Holy Spirit prompts you in the body. During services, if you have a gift for speaking to the bottom, your best resource is to follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting and step out in faith. Use your gift and learn from missteps you make.

Trust the Spirit-led leadership in your church. They will lovingly guide you if you are not in unity with what the Holy Spirit is doing at that moment. Take their help as a ministry and service to you. Do not lash out or be angry with them for trying to help you use your gift in greater and more effective ways.

Sensing the Spirit’s Leading

For most of us, the biggest question and hardest thing about the gifts of the Spirit is learning how to follow the Spirit’s lead. It may take a while for us to realize when the Holy Spirit prompts us to use our gifts. Learning to hear the voice of God is a lifelong process.

For some people, there are physiological clues, such as clammy palms, the hair on the back of your neck standing up, sweating, a feeling in the pit of your stomach, and other signs. Part of learning your gift and growing in it is discovering what the prompting of the Holy Spirit feels like for you.

If your gift has to do with a church service, like prophecy, beginning in tongues and interpretation, words of knowledge, and words of wisdom, you may get a feeling of what the Holy Spirit wants to communicate through you to the congregation. You will sense the right time to speak this word. Some of sensing the prompting of the Spirit has to do with the appropriate time in the service to bring the message.

Churches practice the spiritual gifts in different ways. Some churches just want you to use your gift when the Spirit prompts you. Other churches are more comfortable with you going to the leadership and telling them the message the Spirit has laid on your heart before you shared with the congregation. The Holy Spirit can use all these dynamics to minister to the body.

Perhaps your gift is one of compassion or hospitality. In this case, when you hear about the needs of others or you feel the Holy Spirit telling you to step out and minister, you can go to that person and use your gift.

I admit some of this is hard to explain because the Holy Spirit prompts people in different ways, as unique to the person as the person is. But this may provide you with some direction on knowing when the Holy Spirit wants you to use your gifts.

Decently and in Order

When you minister your gift, the Holy Spirit is in charge. Some people don’t understand that their gifts must fit what the Holy Spirit is doing in the service. This is how we minister out of turn and hinder the Holy Spirit. You don’t ever want to be in His way!

Paul tells us that God is a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:33a, 40). Through the examples of prophecy and became in tongues, Paul shows us that every gift can be controlled by us (1 Corinthians 14:30-32). One may start using his gift, and if another gift is used, he can stop until the other is finished. Since the beginning of creation, God has always been a God of order. He brings order to chaos, and it is no different with our gifts.

If we operate chaotically in our gifts, how can the Holy Spirit minister to the body? We can speak and use our gifts with the Holy Spirit prompts us. But if we use our gifts out of turn by our own desire instead of the prompting of the Spirit, we become a problem instead of a ministry solution.

Such actions can lead us to quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19), or grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). We want to be the vessels of ministry for God’s Spirit, not hindrances to His ministry and moving. Let us all strive to use our gifts at the proper time in the proper way to glorify God and minister to one another.

For many more resources on the gifts of the Spirit, check out a whole lot miniseries I did on the gifts called “Seek the Gifts.”

Growth Challenge

How far along are you in understanding what your gifts are and how to use them? How does the Spirit prompt you to use your gifts?

Up Next

Using your Spirit-given gifts encourages and empowers Christ’s body of believers. Next, we will discuss how to live the Spirit-empowered life.

Image by Joe from Pixabay

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