Have you ever looked around at all the people in your church and wondered where you fit in? Have you wondered how you can serve your church? I’m pretty sure we have all wondered about our worth a time or two. When you have Jesus in you, it is natural to want to contribute and be a blessing, to do something that matters and makes a difference.
Our Craving To Belong And Make A Difference
This longing is a relentless craving from deep within each of us. When we were not yet saved, we attempted to fill this deep void with all sorts of worldly pleasures that did nothing to fill the hole inside of us. When we gave our life to Christ, the desire to fill that bottomless void didn’t go away. The fact is, it will never go completely away until we learn to combine a personal relationship with Jesus with striving to bless those around us. It isn’t a mistake that we were created to receive and give. (In case you missed it, that is the key to spiritual gifts right there.)
The best way to fill this deep craving is to focus on blessing others with our gifts instead of always being occupied with receiving a blessing as a result of what others have to offer. It is up to us to seek the face of God, to discover which gifts he has blessed us with, and how he wants us to use those gifts.
There are many ways to share your gifts, but in this post, we will be focusing on finding a place to serve in your church using your spiritual gifts.
The Bible Is Pretty Straight Forward About Our Gifts
Serving your brothers and sisters in your church is so important that Paul took the time in 1 Corinthians 12 to address the subject. He talks about the fact that we are one body (church) with many parts (people). Each part (person) has a specific and powerful gift given to them by God to bless the body (church) and bring glory to him (God).
There are many but let’s look at a few verses for further clarification:
As every man hath received the gift, even so, minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)
I need to pause here for just a second because this is important to make note of. Please don’t get caught up in the word minister here. This is about the condition of your heart, not a job or title. To minister is to provide aid, to take care of someone, to be their servant. You minister to this person’s needs as God directs you.
Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14:1)
So with yourselves; since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:12)
We Have God’s Gifts and Power. So Why Aren’t We Using Them?
It seems to be pretty clear that we are to strive for God’s spiritual gifts then serve the body of Christ through the use of these gifts. Unfortunately, we all know that often isn’t the case. As I began this study, this question hovered in the back of my mind, especially when I ran across the statistic shown in the graphic. If only 20% are acting as the hands and feet of Jesus, what is going on with the rest of the body of Christ? I thought back to each church we had been a part of and I could see where this was not uncommon. Because He is ever-faithful and wants us to have his knowledge and wisdom, I believe Holy Spirit began to open my eyes to a few things I would like to share with you before we get into our topic, how to find a place to serve in your church using your spiritual gifts.
There Are Four Types of Church Members
All churches need every one of us to be willing to step out in faith and bless the body with our gifts. A church is handicapped and cannot function properly if the Pastor and his family or a small group of the same people are the ones doing everything for everybody. In any given church, there are typically four types of people when it comes to spiritual gifts:
1. Those who don’t know what their gifts are so they do nothing.
Although this is pretty normal, if you fall into this category, it is your responsibility to get in your Bible and pray about it. This is spiritual growth that God calls us all too.
God says to ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7). In Hosea 4:6 it says that God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. In James 1:5 we are told to ask for wisdom and God will bless us with this gift. And Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:1 that he doesn’t wish us to be ignorant (or uninformed) about our spiritual gifts. So God wants you to put in the effort and have his knowledge.
For Additional Reading: If you desire to begin using your spiritual gifts but you are unsure where to start, I wrote about this in a previous post, A Beginners Guide To Spiritual Gifts.
2. Those who are drawn to a certain area and feel like God is revealing their gifts but they just aren’t sure what to do about it so they do nothing.
It is for this group of Christians that this article is primarily geared for. As you seek God about your gifts, he will begin to use various methods to reveal, confirm, and arrange opportunities for you in the gifting area he has set aside for you.
I wrote about this in a post called How To Identify Your Spiritual Gifts. Among other things, in this post, I talk about the fact that there will be areas you are drawn to that tug at your heart and keep you up at night. For one person, it could be the abortion debate, but for another, it could be Christian marriages and their struggles. Someone else might find their heart drawn to the fact that people read the Bible but don’t understand it. What sparked my fire was the spiritual growth and the discipleship of God’s women (you can read more about that here). The point is, what repeatedly catches your attention will be different for each person.
Once God reveals your gift(s), you need to seek him to open the doors of what he intends you to do with your gift. Don’t worry about what others are doing with their gifts. You and I could both have the same gift but your gift might be more developed than mine or God might use your particular gift in this area whereas he has chosen to use my gift in another area. We have to seek him for what he has for us, not to duplicate what he has given someone else. God is very specific and creative.
3. Those with whom the Holy Spirit has revealed their gifts and how he wants the gifts used.
These are the people who are active and thriving! We all have these brothers and sisters working in our churches. In my church, there is a lady who works tirelessly with the children. She makes learning about Jesus and the Bible fun, the kids respect her and eagerly attend kids church. She teaches the kids how to stretch and grow spiritually. Although she will do other areas of ministry, she lights up when she is working with the kids. She is right where God wants her to be.
I have another friend who has the gift of encouragement. She lives for finding those young or old who are down and discouraged. She is quick with a hug and smile as she speaks life into them. It is not unusual that she is the last one to leave the church after service. We tease her that she talks too much, but the fact is, while we are standing around debating where we want to eat lunch, she is looking for those God wants her to lift up and edify.
4. Those who don’t care what their gifts are or those who do know but refuse to use their gifts.
I pray you don’t fall into this category because this is not God’s will for any of us. But if this is where you find yourself, this is between you and God. Only you can go to God about this. Only God can change your heart or reveal your calling (gift/ministry). If I (as the church) try to force you into ministering through guilt or intimidation, I am taking away your free will, which is not God’s will either.
Although we as the church need to continue to encourage you to share your spiritual gifts, it has to be your decision. We can’t force you to grow. But I am confident that if you are willing to spend time with God and your Bible, you will reach a place that you desire to know and share your gifts.
Serving Is Not About You But It Has To Start With You
Your gifts aren’t about you and what you can do. They are God’s gifts to be shared with God’s children in God’s timing with God’s power. We simply need to be a willing vessel which is why it has to start with us. We can’t sit back and receive blessings like infants forever. At some point, we are expected to grow and mature so that we can be a blessing to others.
When we seek after God with a pure heart, we develop a heart for others as a natural (or supernatural) byproduct and God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)!
For Additional Reading: In our last post, we discussed How To Begin Sharing Your Spiritual Gifts The Right Way. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it before moving on.
I think it is safe to say that we all want our church family to be made up of those who are eager and willing to share their spiritual gifts to bless others. If you see yourself in the second category above (those who are drawn to a certain area but aren’t sure what to do about it), I pray you can find inspiration here to seek God and begin using your spiritual gifts.
How To Find Your Place To Serve In Your Church
Bless others and take a step of faith!
If you believe your gifting is in the area of women’s ministry but you have yet to attend a single event, maybe you should pray about that being your first step. When you attend, don’t just sit back but find ways to be a blessing. Get to know those already involved and begin quietly praying for them.
Whatever the area of ministry God is calling you to, approach the leadership in that area and ask to speak with them about this. If you don’t know who the lead person is, call the church office and ask. If you aren’t sure where God is leading you, you can find out what needs your church has that you might be able to fill. Some churches have a process for allowing you to volunteer. Find out what it is.
It is possible that your church doesn’t have a ministry in the area you feel called to or room to add another ministry to the calendar. Again, you will need to talk with your leadership about this. If your church isn’t willing to allow you to start a ministry in your area of gifting, there are still ways to serve. We aren’t limited to our churches as we use our gifts. Perhaps you could start a small group in your home or join another ministry in a sister church. Seek God about it. He will not call you if there is not a need he wants to be filled.
Don’t be a pew potato…Get involved!
Pray about how to share your gifts. Just as there is any number of people on earth, there is any number of ways for you to use your gifts to bless. These ministry opportunities could be formal ministries done regularly or random ways to bless your brothers and sisters as the spirit leads. Both types of ministry are critical to the body.
When we refuse to use our gifts to bless God’s people, we hinder and cripple the church from doing God’s work. We are to be the hands and feet of Christ. Can you imagine how the Spirit of God could move if even half the body willingly used their gifts with a pure heart and right motive?
But sometimes it isn’t a matter of your willingness. If your church can’t (or won’t) use you in the area you have been gifted, that is a separate subject we can tackle at another time. If you have the heart to bless and serve, God can use you and all your flaws and victories. He doesn’t desire that you be an indifferent spectator (AKA a pew potato).
Don’t be afraid of starting small (Zechariah 4:10).
Maybe because of TV, radio, and instant internet access, too many seem to have the misconception that if we don’t have a large ministry or a title as the person in charge we are not being used by God. That is so not true. There is a time and a season for everything under the sun and that includes you and your gifts (calling or ministry).
As you are faithful with little, God will bless you with more as he sees fit (Luke 12:48). If you rush ahead of him, you will flounder until you submit and come back into his fold. God is into seeds, growth, and harvest. He is into relationships. Forget instant access because many things of God take time and patience.
For this season in your life, God may desire that you work with a team of people in an area of ministry. Don’t be surprised or discouraged by this. After all, Jesus sent the disciples out two-by-two. Using your gifts doesn’t mean you must be in a head position to be a blessing.
Everyone loves to reference King David but they forget that there was a lot of time and life situations that happened to David from his years in the field with his sheep until becoming king. As was the case with anyone in the Bible you read about. We all have to go through a growth process.
Refuse to allow yourself to compare as you move forward.
Everyone is in a different place spiritually but God knows exactly who is where and who needs what. Are some gifts more important than others? Well, I guess the gift that is most important at the moment depends on who you ask, what their needs are, and which gift is needed at the time you ask. This is why we must rely on God to show us who, what, when, and where and not trust in our own understanding.
Please don’t misunderstand me. All members of the body are equal but the gifts are not. Read 1 Corinthians 14:5 carefully. What is the greater gift? Simply put, it is the gift that is needed at the time.
Some gifts carry over into ministry jobs (or offices) and are more public in nature (like part of the 5-fold ministry). Other gifts (like the gift of helps or the gift of encouragement) are often quietly working behind the scenes but that doesn’t make them any less important, useful, or wanted than any other type of gift, ministry, or calling. ALL gifts are needed for the church to function with the power that God intends.
What this ultimately comes down to is trust in God. Trust that he loves you as much as he loves the person next to you. Trust that he has your best interest at heart. Trust that he has good plans for you all the days of your life.
Spiritual Gifts Are A Thing of Beauty That Only God Can Create
The next time you look at a sunset, think about how our spiritual gifts and resulting anointing are similar to that amazingly gorgeous sunset. How? Well, no two are ever the same. There is nothing I can do to create either since both are gifts from God. Some sunsets and some ministries appear more brilliant and spectacular than others but all are beautiful in their own way. You can choose to ignore a sunset or a spiritual gift but that doesn’t make them go away. Both the sun and our spiritual gifts do exactly what they were created to do; showcase God’s glory!
Neither spiritual gifts or an evening sunset will last forever (1 Corinthians 13:8-10). One day, Jesus will return. Until then, your church body needs you to step forward to be the hands and feet of Jesus sharing the spiritual gifts God has blessed you with!