In our Seek the Gifts series on the gifts of the Spirit, we turn to how we know what gifts we have received from Him. In my last post, I discussed the beginning of our practical posts on the gifts of how we receive gifts from the Spirit.
So, you’ve been praying and seeking the Spirit for the gifts He has for you. These are gifts you want to humbly use to serve the Church. And He gives you at least one gift. But how do you know what it is?
Even after looking at the SHAPE paradigm to figure out what you think it might be, you still need confirmation that this is the gift He has given you. We started with prayer and discovery through other methods after prayer. Because this is a spiritual endeavor, we must begin with prayer.
But there are ways to confirm your gift. They are not foolproof. Some of this is “trial and error.” I don’t mean you take a swing at each gift and see if you fail. I mean that there is a process for discovering your gifts and becoming effective in using them. You never stop growing in that gift.
Spiritual Gift Assessments
When I first took a spiritual gift assessment, I did it before I sought the Spirit to show me my gift. It’s not the worst thing to do. But I should have gone through the process I described in our previous post.
When you are having trouble discovering your gifts, spiritual gift assessments are another approach you can use. These are not “scientific” assessments. Some people call them tests, but I never liked using that word. You cannot pass or fail these assessments.
Through a series of questions, you can refine your discovery by finding your top two or three gifts. These assessments are made by people who operate in their giftings. They search for your passions and the ways you have served the Lord in the past.
They can be wrong. Some people notice a pattern, even though the assessment shuffles questions so you don’t go through all the questions one gift at a time. If they want a certain result, they can cheat to get that result. These assessments are not for you to confirm the gift you want. They are for you to discover possibilities for the gifts you have.
Probably one of the most popular spiritual gift assessments to take is Peter C. Wagner’s “Discover Your Spiritual Gifts” assessment. Here are some free spiritual gift assessments you can take online:
- Discover Your Spiritual Gifts and Why They Matter
- Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts Survey
- SHAPE Test
A spiritual gifts assessment contains the questions you go through and assign a number. Then he gives directions on how to add up your numbers to find your top two or three gifts. Finally, it contains a directory of the gifts and their definitions to help you understand your top two or three gifts.
Another way you can confirm your gifts is to meet others who have these gifts in your local church. They have been using their gift for a while and have developed maturity in it. They will be able to help you more than anyone.
This doesn’t mean they won’t make mistakes. But they can help you hone your gift, or realize you do not have that gift. Look for people who love you and want to encourage you in your gift. This may include leadership in the church.
In 1 Corinthians 14, people with the prophetic gift are with one another in the service. That’s why Paul tells them to weigh what is being said by someone with the prophetic gift (1 Corinthians 14:29). If you have the same gift, they will be invaluable supporters and teachers to help you mature in your gift.
When you are sure you have your gift, it does no good to sit in your toolbox. It’s time to use your gift to help others. Whether your gift is one of the nine spiritual gifts used in worship in service, or another gift mentioned in the other lists, you won’t know until the Spirit prompts you and you step out and use it.
This requires faith. It requires an open ear to hear what the Spirit is saying and how He is leading you. It calls for you to feel the prompting of the Spirit and be obedient. Especially the first time you use your gift, it will be an intimidating experience.
You may completely miss the Spirit, step out and realize He was not prompting you in that moment. In a later post, I will talk about misuses of the gifts. But when you are learning how to use your gift more effectively, stepping out and “missing the Spirit” is not a misuse.
If you never step out and use your gift, you will never know if you have this gift. You will never realize whether the Spirit prompted you to use it. We all make mistakes. And and not only in the beginning. We must always listen to and obey the Holy Spirit.
If you do not obey the Holy Spirit and speak the message, or perform your gift when He calls on you, you will have a completely different feeling. A few times in my ministry, I have not stepped out when I should have. You don’t get those moments back.
Sometimes the Spirit uses another with the same gift in that moment so His ministry happens as it should. But sometimes He gave you the prompting and you did not follow through. We’ll talk about the prompting of the Spirit in another post. But the Spirit is gracious. He has never condemned me for not stepping out.
Know that your gift is vital to the body of Christ. If you don’t step out when you feel the prompting of the Spirit to use your gift, people will not be ministered to. The Holy Spirit wants to use you. He wants to minister to others through you. Don’t be afraid to step out.
When you step out and use your gift, if you have missed the Spirit’s leading, you will be out of order in the service. Remember that God is a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). If this happens, the leadership of the church should lovingly direct you to stop.
Don’t take this as criticism or them telling you that you don’t have the gift. Spirit-filled church leaders will address you in private and help you with your gift and their perspective. Take this as teaching from godly people who care about you. They are not trying to tear you down. They are building you up and helping you with your gift.
Most of us want to know we’re doing the right thing in using our gifts. We want to make sure we are using gifts the Spirit has given us. Using all the tools I have talked about so far, almost everyone will be on the right path to using their Spirit-given gifts.
One way I receive confirmation, both that I have a gift and that I’ve used it correctly in following the Spirit’s lead, is a confirmation in my spirit by the Spirit. I know it sounds strange, but somehow I know I have used the right gift at the right time by a feeling. You know when the Spirit confirms something with your spirit. It gives you an assurance you can’t find any other way.
Another way I receive confirmation is from other people. One of my top gifts is teaching. After I have taught a class, a Sunday School class, a life group, or in a Bible study, people will nod their heads, verbally confirm they are learning useful information and practices, or tell me in private pay are receiving understanding through me.
Human confirmation is not the best way to confirm a gift, because it is ultimately the Spirit who gives the gifts and ministers through you. But when others around you affirm the gift, you know you are maturing in your effectiveness of that gift.
The Spirit confirms His gifts in you through their use over time. The more you step out when He prompts you, the more you grow in your gifts. You will become more confident and trust His prompting in you more.
Discovering and becoming effective in your gifts is a wonderful adventure with God’s Spirit. There may be hiccups along the way, but there’s nothing like the Spirit ministering through you with the gifts He has given that suit you the best.
Do not be afraid to step out and use your gift when the Spirit calls on you. He has given you these gifts. He wants to minister through you. And He entrusts these gifts to you. You will gain confidence as you continue to obey the Spirit. How have you discovered and confirmed your gifts?
We have just discussed how the Holy Spirit confirms His gifts in you. Now that you know your gifts, we will talk about how to use your gift.