Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

Spiritual Intelligence: What Is It?

Spiritual Intelligence: What Is It?


Are you familiar with “emotional intelligence” or “social intelligence”? I suggest another category for the list of multiple intelligences: “spiritual intelligence". For Christians, spiritual intelligence would include our ability to recognize how God works through us.

Crosswalk recently published several articles on spiritual gifts. My previous Crosswalk article described the gifts themselves, and this article will now discuss how to identify them in your own life.

Someone might object, “Why not let the gifts simply manifest themselves? Why try to discover your own gifts? Isn’t that some form of pride?”

Let me respond with an observation: when you don’t know you have a tool, it’s hard to use it. Yes, the believers at Pentecost (Acts 2) did not know they could speak in tongues, it just happened. Yet when Peter later healed people, he did so with such confidence that I suspect Peter knew The Lord gave him both the ability and the authority to heal in the name of Christ. Likewise, when we know our gifts we can minister to others with confidence, knowing that The Lord has given us both the ability and authority to accomplish ministry in the name of Christ.

As another guard against self-obsession, please also remember that Paul provided believers with a simple remedy for being overly impressed with their own gifts. His love-test in1 Corinthians 13 challenged believers to motivate their gifts with an others-focused love.

Additionally, scripture tells us that gifts are distributed by the Holy Spirit’s sovereign will 1 Corinthians 12:11), so bragging about our gifts makes about as much sense as bragging about the color of our eyes.


So how then do we discover these gifts? A number of spiritual gifts inventories exist for believers who want to know more about their own gifts. I will briefly review five.

1. Uniquely You

One of the most verbose inventories is by Mels Carbonell, Ph. D. and Stanley R. Ponz, D. Min. The Uniquely You inventory combines a spiritual gifts analysis with the DISC personality profile. The stated purpose of Carbonell’s publications: “to increase involvement and reduce conflicts in the church and at work.” The Uniquely You indicator comes in a variety of combinations of various lengths, which can be ordered from the website https://www.uniquelyyou.com.

Believers may object to pairing a secular personality test with sacred gifts. After all, the DISC personality types are adapted from Hippocrates’ descriptions of the Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy personalities. Yet I suggest the pairing is entirely appropriate in a tool designed to reduce conflict in churches. As the Uniquely You indicator itself explains, when you know what makes you tick, you can better control what ticks you off. Charismatic believers will be disappointed by this inventory, because it does not profile the more miraculous gifts (i.e., healing and tongues).

The amount of information contained in each Uniquely You profile is impressive, but it is also overwhelming. For example, in my consulting work with Christian leaders, I pair this tool with a 360 leadership feedback profile, looking for trends. Because the paper version of Uniquely You is 30 pages long, and the digital versions are even longer, I have to spend a few hours reviewing the results and preparing an executive summary. I mention this example because anyone who wants to use Uniquely You in a church setting should also facilitate interpreting the results for those who take the test. Otherwise, the sheer amount of information may overwhelm test-takers.

2.  Basden-Johnson Spiritual Gifts Analysis

Created in 1987, and revised in 1998, the Basden-Johnson Spiritual Gift Analysis represents a fairly straight-forward, no-frills, spiritual gifts inventory. Created by Paul Basden, PhD and Lee Johnson, PhD, this inventory asks users to rate themselves on a scaled of 0-4 on 108 indicators. The top three results are labled “primary gifts” and the next two results are called “secondary gifts.” Basden and Johson list 18 spiritual gifts (healing and tongues are also missing here). The inventory’s final page includes a list of these gifts paired with short definitions and some scriptural supports.

Basden and Johnson also briefly mention how multiple gifts can cluster together for very specific ministries. For example, believers demonstrate the gifts of exhortation and hospitality joined together when they use their homes as a place for counseling others. Mindful that the gifts’ purpose is church-building ministry, the authors also provide a paragraph on how to discover your place in church ministry via your gifts. To prove the need for spiritual gifts inventories, the authors correctly suggest five benefits for gifts-awareness: church growth, empowering the laity, renewal, revival, and reducing pastoral burnout.

3.  Network

Fifteen years ago I took part in a Network study. Network was created by Bruce Bugbee, Don Cousins, and Bill Hybels. The unique structure and insights of the study impressed me enough that I still think about them years later. The spiritual gifts inventory here is part of a larger program to help individuals identify their God-given passion, gifts, and personality style. What I liked best about this study was how it included both the observations of the individual being profiled and the observations of those who knew this person well. Thus, individuals gained insight about how others saw their gifts.

4.  Wagner-Modified Houts Questionnaire

For those interested in the sign gifts, C. Peter Wagner’s Wagner-Modified Houts Questionnaire includes healing and tongues. Wagner is a former professor of church Growth at Fuller Theological seminary and now chancellor emeritus of the Wagner Leadership Institute (www.wagnerleadership.org). If you are interested in an online spiritual gifts analysis, you might want to see “Gifted to Serve” at www.buildingchurch.net. This inventory is modified from Wagner’s work.

5.  The Three Colors of Ministry:  A Trinitarian Approach to Identifying and Developing Your Spiritual Gifts

While preparing this article, I stumbled across The Three Colors of Ministry:  A Trinitarian Approach to Identifying and Developing Your Spiritual Gifts by Christian A. Schwarz. What struck me about this resource was its emphasis on a trinitarian approach to ministry. Any spiritual gifts analysis that emphasizes a balance grounded in the perfect relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit deserves consideration. So although I have not used this inventory, I recommend looking at it if you have the chance.


Whatever inventory you choose for either yourself or a corporate ministry, keep two things in mind. First, remember the key purposes of the gifts - serving in love Romans 12 1 Corinthians 13) and glorifying God (1 Peter 4:10). Second, don’t simply rely on a spiritual gifts inventory to tell you how God has gifted you. Get feedback from other believers. Thus we can fulfill the admonition of Hebrews Hebrews 10:24-25, motivating one another one toward love and good deeds.

Choose to develop your spiritual intelligence. Then you can both know your gifts and help others know theirs.

Stanley J. Ward is the Director of Campus Life and Ministry at The Brook Hill School in Bullard, TX. He is also the author of  Worldview Conversations: How to Share Your Faith and Keep Your Friends.

Publication Date: June 18, 2012