Developing Spiritual Gifts

By J.E. O’Day

Many Christians consider developing their spiritual gifts as optional. They consider it low priority relative to evangelism, group growth, missions, Bible study, or prayer. Although you may sympathize with this way of thinking, you must also recognize that the development and exercise of spiritual gifts is a basic provision of God for group growth. In fact, the primary job of a Christian leader is “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up….” (Eph. 4:12)

How do Christians serve others? The apostle Peter says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)

According to Peter, a spiritual gift is God’s grace manifested in specific service. Discovering and developing spiritual gifts within your group will produce growth through people serving each other and displaying God’s grace in their lives.

So let’s begin with some basic points:

1. Every person who has received grace has also received one or more spiritual gifts.

2. Every Christian is responsible before God to use their spiritual gifts.

3. It is a good idea to discover your spiritual gifts.

4. The list of spiritual gifts in the New Testament is not an exhaustive list. (Your gifts may not coincide who those listed in Scripture).

5. Spiritual gifts are often natural abilities that God recreates along with the whole person.

These points may help you help others find their spiritual gifts. But the real questions of many is “How do I find what gifts God has given me?” One way is to follow these five steps:

1. Prayer — Ask God daily to reveal your gifts.

2. Scripture — Familiarize yourself with passages pertaining to spiritual gifts (especially Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12-14, Eph. 4, and 1 Peter 4).

3. Contemplation — Deliberate on your most basic joys, desires, and inclinations.

4. Affirmation — Ask the opinions of respected fellow Christians on what your gifts might be.

5. Experimentation — Put your suspected gifts to work in ministry.

Once you become aware of your spiritual gifts, you will be in a position to begin developing them — to begin using them more effectively, frequently, creatively, skillfully, and purposefully. To develop one of your gifts, do the following:

1. Accept some responsibility in the area of your gift.

2. Seek encouragement and feedback from trusted friends and leaders.

3. Take inventory of the opportunities available to you for using your gift.

4. Take time to learn from those who are more experienced in the area of your gift.

5. Plan your life in light of the gifts God has given you.

If, as a leader, you have taken (or are taking) these steps and are helping others take them as well, you are accomplishing a large portion of what God has called you to do. It will activate others in your group, make them feel significant, and make them a vital part of ministry on campus!

(For more help and information: Know Your Spiritual Gifts, J.E. O’Day, IVP; Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow, C. Peter Wagner, Ventura Books.)