"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

We developed and taught a "Gifted to Serve" class for new members at our church in Southern California. Class members completed a variety of self-assessments, identifying their most-enjoyed skills, compelling interests, personality type, and spiritual gifts. We then helped people identify which of their abilities and interests they would like to use within work, the community, and in serving in our church. The final phase of the class was assisting them in finding or creating specific opportunities to use their God-given design to serve others in some capacity.

We extended a personal invitation to each of the new members to participate in the class. One woman interrupted our brief description of the class with, "I've already done that."

"Done what?" we asked, since we had barely started describing the class.

"Took a spiritual gifts inventory….probably ten years ago," the woman replied.

"Great! And what are your spiritual gifts?" we inquired.

"I don't remember…they're in a drawer somewhere," she responded. "Anyway, I'm not interested in the class since I already took an inventory." With that, she turned and walked away.

You Are Created for a Purpose

While we knew that her spiritual gifts were not literally in a drawer, they may as well have been! God has personally selected a variety of gifts for each of us, and He has given them to us to be used. Unless you know what your gifts are and are being intentional about using them, you are missing out on the fullness of what God has created you to do with your life.

God has given each of us many gifts—skills, abilities, interests, spiritual gifts, personality traits and more. While spiritual gifts are an important component of your God-given design, there are many more additional facets to who God has created you to be. Anything you are able to do is ultimately a gift from God. How you are "wired" in terms of your inherent personality traits and the types of needs in the world to which you are drawn are part of God's handiwork. You have been created purposefully to do particular things in this world. Personalizing Paul's words, "…[You] are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [you] to do" (Ephesians 2:10). Since God has called you to be His fellow worker in this world, He has a vested interest in helping you discover and use your gifts.

How Gifts End Up in a Drawer

Pastor Wayne Cordeiro has said that the richest place in the world is a cemetery because of all the unused potential buried there. Why are so many people's gifts undiscovered and/or unused? In our 20+ years as career counselors and life calling coaches, we have found that these are four of the primary reasons people miss out on becoming the people God created them to be and doing the things He designed them to d

1.      Lack of awareness that you have a design that matters. In his initial career counseling session, one 30-something man described how his parents had pushed him toward jobs with high incomes, and emphasized that his role in life was to get a secure job. What he enjoyed doing or was interested in was never really discussed. It was a new thought to him that he had a unique design—one that came directly from God—and had been given gifts with which to make particular contributions in this world.

Our culture doesn't do a good job of teaching young people (1) that they have particular gifts; (2) how to identify them, and then, (3) how to connect those gifts with work and volunteer options. Most families, schools, and (sadly) churches don't help people learn how to discover and invest their God-given gifts.