I’m not sure how you open gifts at Christmas time, but our family’s custom was to first open the presents under the tree and then afterward we could discover what was in our stockings. Spiritual gifts are like stocking stuffers—the added gifts that come subsequent to God’s greatest gift, our salvation. Spiritual gifts are like the ice cream on your apple pie or the icing on your cake. God generously tops off our salvation by gifting His church for the purpose of building it up and reaching the world.
As a pastor, I’ve had many people ask me through the years, “How do I discover my spiritual gifts?” This is an important question. No magic formula exists for discovering your spiritual gifts, but here are a few suggestions worth pondering.
As you dig into New Testament passages such as Romans 12:4-8, 1 Corinthians 12, and 1 Peter 4:10-11, you’ll notice that there are a variety of gifts. However, these lists aren’t exhaustive but exemplary. They’re designed to show you some of the gifts but not all of the gifts.
You’ll often discover your gift behind your burden. The evangelist is burdened to see nonbelievers saved. The leader is burdened to see change. The encourager wants people to feel hope. So ask yourself, “What am I burdened about?” The answer may be the secret to unwrapping your spiritual gift.
Commune with God. But as you seek Him be careful to not slip into a user relationship. Many people get so consumed with seeking their spiritual gifts that they fail to seek the Giver of the gifts. Chase His heart, not His hand. There’s a big difference. We don’t want to use God; we want to be used by Him.
Many Christians want God to reveal their spiritual gifts to them, but they aren’t interested in following Him. This is odd. Gifts aren’t given to increase our glory; they’re given to make known God’s glory.
Where there is a need, seek to fill it. I played baseball growing up, and I learned that if you’re going to find your sweet spot, you’ve got to try out different positions. Eventually, it becomes clear what position to play. So too in the church, don’t wait for some mystical vision or dream to happen. Get busy. Start serving. And eventually you’ll find your sweet spot.
We can gather some great wisdom from those who watch our lives up close. I’m sure you’ve got some friends who would gladly offer you some sound advice, especially if they’ve got the gift of encouragement. That’s what God-gifted encouragers do—they call out the gifts in others. Yet, sometimes in their desire to encourage, they may not be as constructive with their advice. So be discerning.
You can find these online or elsewhere. These tests will vary as some have differing opinions about which gifts are active today. For example, some Christians believe gifts like healing, tongues, and prophecy are no longer in operation whereas others do. Their view of such gifts will determine how the inventory test is developed. I encourage you to ask your pastor if he has any suggestions, and then study up.