Investigating Your Unique Spiritual Gifts

Who is your faith hero? Maybe it’s a well-known pastor or author whom you admire. Maybe the person who led you to Christ inspires you. Maybe your faith hero is someone else, but what unites them, I’m sure, is that you see an almost supernatural faith, joy and reliance on God in that person. That person may be such a motivational speaker, clear teacher, or comforting friend, and it seems like those skills came directly from God.

Most likely, they did! But the incredible thing is that those same gifts (or different, but equally important ones) reside in you too. They are called spiritual gifts, and every believer is granted a spiritual gift or two when they give their hearts to Christ.

Let’s take a look at what spiritual gifts are, what the Bible says about them, and how you can find a way to use your gifts to honor God and build up the Kingdom here on earth.

What Are Spiritual Gifts?

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).

Sometimes we get Christian fads – I’m sure you can think of some now. These are things that are perhaps not entirely Biblical, but we still get swept up in the excitement. Spiritual gifts are not one of these fads. Lists and explanations of these gifts appear three times in the New Testament, and can be put into three groups.

Dr. Roger Barrier lists them here:

Establishing Gifts (Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:29): Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Pastor-Teachers. These gifts are used primarily for planting and growing churches.

Supporting Gifts (Romans 12:6-8): Prophecy, Service, Teaching, Encouragement, Giving, Administration/Leadership, and Mercy. These gifts are used primarily to organize and administrate the church so that it may best carry out its responsibilities.

Ministry Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 27-31): Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Helps, Administration, Leadership, Distinguishing Spirits, Speaking in Tongues, and Interpreting Tongues. These are the tools that the Holy Spirit utilizes for the ongoing ministry of the church.”

Some of these gifts may be familiar to you, like teaching, administration or leadership. Some may seem more spiritual or even confusing, like speaking in tongues and prophecy. The good news is that there is no ranking of gifts here. No gift is “better” or more spiritual than another, as all are useful for building up the Church.


Photo credit: Unsplash/krispaparo

How Do I Figure Out My Spiritual Gift?

The Internet has brought us many wonders, not least of which is the ability to take a quiz and figure out literally anything you want. What sort of French fry matches your personality? Which Disney sidekick are you? What is your love language?

So of course, there are plenty of quizzes to figure out what your spiritual gift is.

But here’s the thing, because spiritual gifts are Biblical and holy – the Spirit directly gifts us with these abilities – we can’t rely on a human-made quiz to determine this. These quizzes can be helpful for guiding you and perhaps ruling some gifts out (if public speaking makes you dizzy, for instance, than maybe pastoring isn’t your thing).

An online quiz, along with lots of prayer and discussion with trusted Christian brothers and sisters, can help you narrow down a few potential gifts. If you do decide to take one of these quizzes however, know that it can be wrong; don’t rely on a man-made quiz entirely, neglecting prayer and biblical guidance.

Similarly, even if you do rule out some gifts that make you uncomfortable, know that God loves to challenge us. Maybe He wants to use that thing you are shying away from to grow you and make you rely on Him more.

He’s done it before. In Exodus, we see God call Moses to free the Israelites:

“’So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain’” (Exodus 10:10-12).

When Moses heard God’s plan for him, he wasn’t too sure about it. You may find yourself in a similar situation, but God’s answer to you will be the same: “I will be with you.”

That’s not to say spiritual gifts are all scary. In fact, it may be something you are already passionate about, or are already doing. Take a look at the list above again and see if any stand out to you. Is there one or two that you seem to already enjoy doing? Dr. Roger gives these five questions that you can ask yourself to help discover your gift:

“1. As I study how gifts operate in the Bible, do any resonate in my soul?

2. What do I enjoy doing?

3. What is the holy spirit telling me?

4. What ministry in my life is God blessing?

5. What gifts do others see operating in me?”

senior woman peacefully praying for an abundant life on her sofa

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Zinkevych

What If Someone Else’s Gift Seems Better?

In my Bible study, I have a friend who is passionate about evangelism. He has spent time overseas ministering to people on the street, and loves doing it.

I, the introvert, shudder at the thought of doing such a thing. But from this feeling I believe that God reveals two things to me:

1. My friend’s gift is not more important than mine. He is passionate about sharing the Gospel in one way, I can do it in another.

2. Because his gift is evangelism, it does not mean that I am exempt! We are all called to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 26:19). I can’t hide behind any excuses or other gifts and claim that I can’t do something we are all called to do.

All of us are members of the same body, and we all have different strengths that contribute to that. 1 Corinthians 12:14-20 reminds us: “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. … But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”

Dear friend, be confidant in the unique gifts and abilities that God has given you! Comparison is a dangerous beast. Remember that without all the unique members of the Body of Christ, we would not function as well. And if your gift were not important and necessary, then God would not have given it to you.

Do All in Love

This article is meant to be a starting line for you, and I hope it has encouraged you to look deeper into your own heart, and see what sort of spiritual gift (or gifts) God has given you. Is He challenging you to do something new, or leading you on an unexpected path? Spend some good time in prayer, chatting with Him about this.

And, as with all things, we are called to serve in love. If your gift is pastoring or giving, teaching or mercy, do it all in love. In this way, God will be glorified, and His Church will flourish.

More from this author
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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Kalawin

Bethany Pyle is the editor for Bible Study Tools.com and the design editor for Crosscards.com. She has a background in journalism and a degree in English from Christopher Newport University. When not editing for Salem, she enjoys good fiction and better coffee.

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