We are God’s partners. He wants us to think and act like partners. He also equips us and today we will talk more about this. How do we figure out where God wants us to serve? Sometimes, there are too many needs and we are spread thin. Just because there is a need does not mean that God wants us to work there. How do we figure out where we fit? We can use an acronym called SHAPE.
I. What is your S.H.A.P.E.?
S – Spiritual Gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:1; 4-7 reminds us that we must understand our spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit to every member of the Body of Christ according to God’s grace, for use within the context of the body.
H – Heart. What do I love? What am I passionate about? What is our natural inclination? There are always times when we need to do things we don’t like, but when we want to see where we should partner on a long-term basis, we should ask ourselves these questions.
A – Abilities. The natural talents, vocational skills, etc. They are different from spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are given when we come to faith, but abilities are given before. Natural musical talent is an example. God can take the natural talents and turn them into spiritual gifts, especially with music.
P – Personality. When we choose a place to serve, our personality will come into play. Introversion and extroversion come into play here.
E – Experiences. Our experience in life help determine how we serve. What kind of spiritual experiences have you had? For example, some people had such a transformative experience at church camp, they make sure that camps are maintained. Many people overlook their painful experiences, but God takes them and uses them for good. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 supports this fact. God can use our painful experiences to help others overcome when they are in similar situations. God will also use educational experiences, especially training.
II. Ten truths about spiritual gifts.
1. Only believers have spiritual gifts. All people have natural abilities, but spiritual gifts are of a spiritual nature, given only by the Holy Spirit.
2. Every Christian has at least one spiritual gift. See 1 Corinthians 12:7.
3. No one receives all the gifts because he wants us to need others and come together as a body at the church. We were made to need the church.
4. No single spiritual gift is given to every Christian. God likes variety and he gives a variety of combination of gifts. See 1 Corinthians 1:29-30.
5. You can’t earn or work for a spiritual gift. If you earn or work for it, it’s a reward, not a gift. It’s free. But it can be developed.
6. The Holy Spirit decides what gifts I get, according to his plan and knowledge.
7. Our gifts are permanent.
8. I am to develop the gifts God gives me. The more we use it, the stronger we will be.
9. It’s a sin to waste the gifts God gave me.
10. Using my gifts glorifies God, benefits others, and helps me grow. If we focus on our growth, we usually won’t grow, but we will grow when our focus is outward.
III. List of Gifts.
Some gifts are more spectacular. Some Christians think that God only gave certain gifts during a certain time. Other Christians state that God gives all gifts at all times. Three passages from scripture that outline examples of spiritual gifts are below.
- Prophesy. The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to receive and communicate and immediate message of God to his people with authority and urgency perceived by the hearers. Prophets are not just about predicting the future, but also about giving God’s message.
- Serving. The ability to recognize practical needs in the body and give assistance to meeting those needs. Christians with the gift do not mind working behind the scenes.
- Teaching. The ability to clearly explain and effectively apply the truths of God’s word so that others will understand and learn.
- Encouraging. The ability to strengthen weak, faltering, and faint-hearted Christians through timely words in such a way that they are motivated to be all God wants them to be.
- Contributing. The ability to contribute material resources with generosity and cheerfulness for the benefit of others and the glory of God. Christians with this spiritual gift need not be wealthy.
- Leadership. The ability to discern God’s purpose for a group, set and communicate appropriate goals, and motivate others to work together to fulfill them in the service of God.
- Mercy. The ability to deeply empathize and engage in compassionate acts on behalf of people who are suffering physical, mental, or emotional distress. Those with this gift manifest concern and kindness to people who are often overlooked.
- Apostle. In the New Testament, the apostles were not limited to the twelve, but also included Paul, Barnabas, Andronicus, Junias and others. If the requirements for the office of apostle includes having seen the resurrected Jesus, this office would have ceased to exist by the 2nd century. However, many see it as continuing. For those who see the gift of apostleship as continuing, they define it as the ability to begin and/or oversee new churches and Christian ministries with a spontaneously recognized authority.
- Evangelists. The ability to be an unusually effective instrument in leading unbelievers to a saving knowledge of Christ. Some with this gift are most effective in personal evangelism, while others may be used by God in group evangelism or cross-cultural evangelism.
- Pastor-Teacher. A person with this spiritual gift has the ability to personally lead, nourish, protect, and care for the needs of a group of believers. Not all people with the office of pastor, elder, overseer have or need the gift of pastoring or shepherding. Many with this gift do not have or need the office.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28.
- Workers of Miracles. The ability to serve as an instrument through whom God accomplishes acts that manifest supernatural power.
- Able to help others. The ability to enhance the effectiveness of the ministry of other members of the body. It appears to be distinct from the gift of service. Some suggest that while the gift of service is more group-oriented, helping is more people-oriented.
- Gifts of healing. The ability to serve as a human instrument to cure illness and restore health apart from the use of natural means.
- Administration – ability to settle a church or Christian organization toward the fulfillment of its goals by planning, organizing, and supervising others. One is direction and motivation setting (leadership) and administration states how we will get there.
- Speaking in tongues. It’s important to have an interpreter if someone speaks in tongues.
- Wisdom. The ability to apply the principles of the WOG in a practical way to specific situations.
- Knowledge. The ability to discover, analyze and systematize truth for the benefit of others.
- Faith – ability to have a vision for what God wants to be done and confidently believe that it will be accomplished in spite of circumstances and appearances to the contrary.
- Discernment. Ability to clearly discern the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
- Other Gifts
IV. Cautions about Spiritual Gifts
- Don’t confuse gifts with natural talents.
- Don’t confuse gifts with the Fruit of the Spirit. Gifts are about service. The fruit of the spirit is about character. A person can have a spiritual gift and can be spiritually immature. They are not correlated.
- Don’t confuse gifts with Christian roles. Just because you have the gift of teaching does not mean you should teach a specific class. And sometimes we need to serve temporarily in places where we are not gifted.
- Be aware of the “gift projection” tendency. When you have a gift or ability, you think that everyone else should be like you. We expect others to serve in the way we serve.
- Don’t feel your gift makes you superior to others. There are no superior or inferior gifts.
- Realize that using my gifts without love is worthless! 1 Corinthians 13 is a chapter about love, which is between two other chapters about spiritual gifts.
V. Finding your place of partnership.
S – Study.
T – Trial and Error. We don’t always figure out what’s right before we do it. We need to keep on going until we find what’s right for us. We learn about ourselves when we serve.
A – Analyze.
R – Request Responses from Others.
T – Take Training.
For some, we need to think this through. Others might need to become a Child of God.