'Just Do It': How to Stop Hiding Behind Your Spiritual Gifts
- Monday, February 14, 2011
If you have been a part of the Body of Christ for a reasonable amount of time, there is a good chance that you have heard teachings on spiritual gifts and how they are used in the church. Particularly over the last two decades, congregations all over the country have been reading books and completing written evaluations to uncover their spiritual gifts.
Spiritual gifts are very important to God and are quite crucial in our service within our local churches and every other aspect of our walk with Christ. In fact, God made sure that spiritual gifts were adequately covered in the New Testament as He penned them through the Apostle Paul.
Chances are also that you have heard the "80/20 rule"—that is, the premise that 20 percent of a given congregation is doing 80 percent of the work. There could be many reasons for this "80/20" scenario. Could one of them be because we tend to overemphasize the gifts of the individual and overlook the need of the whole, the Body of Christ? If we are not careful, we can make excuses to be idle if the task doesn't exactly fit what we believe to be our spiritual gifts. Here are some examples of thoughts that can steer us away from meeting very real needs within our churches and in our communities:
- I don't have the gift of service, so I can't go with the team to serve food at the homeless shelter.
- I don't have the gift of mercy, so I can't show mercy to the addict who lives in bondage to a substance.
- I don't have the gift of giving, so I won't contribute more than my 10 percent to the work of the Kingdom.
Let's examine some biblical principles to help us expand our thinking on this matter.
Understand the Purpose of Spiritual Gifts
One thing that can help us look beyond our spiritual gifts for ways to serve is looking more closely at what the Scriptures say about them. The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 12 has much to say about the use of spiritual gifts, but let's take a closer look at verse 12:
"For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ."
When Paul wrote this particular statement in his letter to the Corinthians, he was emphasizing the whole, not the individual. Human nature screams for us to focus on ourselves as individuals and what we're "good" at doing. While it is important to understand and use our spiritual gifts, we must look first to see how we can be contributors to the Body of Christ and those she serves. Spiritual gifts were meant to strengthen the church, not the individual. Next time there is a need, assess your ability and willingness over your personal giftedness. Needs sometimes go unmet that several people are "qualified" to meet.
Recognize Needs—And Meet Them
Too often, when we make excuses like those listed above, we are looking at our own gifting—and perhaps our own preferences—rather than examining the needs of the church body and the needs of those outside the body, whom we serve.
As believers and members of the Body of Christ, we should first examine the needs, and how to meet them, rather than the consistency of the needs with our spiritual gift sets. If this happened, the "80/20 rule" would no longer be a problem. Do the unnoticed, least publicly recognized jobs go undone because the service philosophy is more gifts-based than need-based?
Also, remember that God calls people—whomever He desires—to fulfill His purpose. He doesn't always do so according to gifting. For instance, there was a need for Israel to be delivered from Egypt. Did He call someone who was gifted in leadership, had strong public speaking skills, and had natural courage? No, He tapped Moses, a frightened, stuttering, otherwise incompetent individual. But God chose to meet a need through someone He equipped after He chose them to fulfill that need.
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