Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Discovering and Using Your Gift - How to discover them (Part 3)

By Ray Stedman

How did you find out that you were musically talented? Or artistically endowed? Or able to lead, to organize, or to compete athletically? It probably first began with some kind of desire. You simply liked whatever it is you are talented at, and found yourself drawn toward those who were already doing it. You enjoyed watching those who were good at it, and came to appreciate something of the fine points of the activity. That is the way spiritual gifts make themselves known at first too.

Many Christians today have somehow gotten the idea that doing what God wants you to do is always dreary and unpleasant, that Christians must always make choices between doing what they want to do and being happy on the one hand, versus doing what God wants them to do and being completely miserable on the other. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The exercise of a spiritual gift is always a satisfying, enjoyable experience though sometimes the occasion on which it is exercised may be an unhappy one. Jesus said it was His constant delight to do the will of the One who sent Him. The Father's gift awakened His own desire and He went about doing what He intensely enjoyed doing.

Here is a practical, workable, step-by-step plan for discovering your spiritual gifts:
  • Start with the gifts you most feel drawn toward. Study the biblical lists of gifts and try exercising those gifts which most appeal to you.
  • Watch for improvement and development. Do you get better at it as you go along? Do you find your quite understandable initial fears subsiding and a growing sense of competence developing? Remember, that's the way it was in discovering your talents, too.
  • Ask trusted Christian friends to observe your life and tell you what gifts they see in you. Often, others can see our lives more clearly than can, and they can help to affirm gifts in us which we cannot clearly see as yet. (The mutual affirming of spiritual gifts is one of the many reasons Christians need to be in close koinonia-fellowship and community with one another.)
In fact, the observation of other Christians provide us with a good "reality check" for our spiritual gifts. Many Christians wonder, "Do I have a certain spiritual gift, or don't I?" Here's a final test: Do others recognize this gift in you? When someone says to you, quite unsolicited, "We'd like you to take on this ministry, we think you have a gift for it," then you can be reasonably sure you have that spiritual gift. It may well he that others will see that gift in you long before you do!

One of the best things you can do for another Christian—and for the life of the body as a whole—is to help another Christian discover his or her spiritual gifts. It is much better for others to affirm authentic gifts in you than for you to lay pretentious claims to gifts you might not actually have! One great Bible teacher used to say, "It's such a pity to see someone who thinks he has the gift of preaching—but no one in his congregation has the gift of listening!"

Gifts need to be exercised just as talents do. Practice tends to make perfect, whether in the use of talents or the use of gifts. As Paul wrote to young Timothy, "Rekindle the gift of God that is within you" (2 Timothy 1:6). As skill in the exercise of a gift develops, the spiritual blessing it brings will become increasingly evident. You will find yourself seeking more and more occasions in which to use your gift. But remember: that gift was not given to you for your own personal, worldly advancement, but as a means to spiritually enrich you and others. As Paul reminds us, "to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (1 Corinthians. 12:7).

It is helpful, also, to realize that hardly anyone discovers all his gifts at the beginning of his Christian experience. Gifts, like talents, may lie undiscovered for years, then emerge when a certain combination of needs or circumstances brings them to light. It is wise, therefore, to always be ready to try something new. Who knows but what the Spirit of God has put you on the doorstep of a new endeavor for the express purpose of helping you discover gifts you never knew you had!

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