"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms."
- 1 Peter 4:10 -
God has blessed everyone with unique spiritual gifts, but the hardest part is figuring them out. There are dozens of surveys, books, and classes regarding spiritual gifts. However, all of these tend to lead to more frustration when it comes to finding exactly what it is God created you to do. My journey to discover my gifts has been a long, frustrating one with a few hiccups that I can only laugh about now.
My first experience regarding spiritual gift discovery was as a teen in youth group. I remember taking a spiritual gift evaluation, but to be honest, I had no idea what it really meant. The wording was WAY over my head, and as a teenager, I was only concerned about what I'd wear to school the next day.
Early in our marriage, my husband and I volunteered in several ministry areas but nothing either one of us was passionate about. So we were excited when our church offered a spiritual gifts class. At the end of the class, a church leader would meet with each student one-on-one to evaluate our spiritual gifts assessment and how we could use that to volunteer in the church. Great!
My spiritual gifts turned out to be Administration, Discernment, and Giving. I was very curious how the church was going to use me with this rather odd set of gifts for a young woman in her early 20s. When I met with my church leader, he had a list of volunteer opportunities for me. I started reading the list . . . lots of childcare needs, mowing the lawn, singing the choir, and a few other opportunities. What?!?!? How would this work for me??? I'm not a big kid person (other than the two precious angels I gave birth to), and I can't sing worth a hoot!
I walked away very discouraged wondering how on earth God would grant me these gifts but no way to use them.
Several years later, I discovered S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life by Erik Rees. It breaks down the unique things that help shape (no pun intended) you:
SPIRITUAL GIFTS Special abilities God has given you
HEART What are you passionate about?
ABILITIES Talents God gave you when you were born
PERSONALITY How God wired you to navigate life
EXPERIENCES Your past, both positive and painful experiences
Talk about refreshing! It didn't try to box me into one category and that's it. There are LOTS of traits that affect my unique gifts. Duh! However, this book helped me fine tune what my passions are.
Soon after, I knew I was called to ministry and left my corporate job. I began working with community missions at our church. I enjoyed it, but I wasn't quite there yet. As I went along, I noticed how much I enjoyed putting together the promo pieces for my community outreach events. Was that what God was calling me to?
A few years into it, circumstances changed at our church where they'd need more graphic work done, and they asked if I'd be willing to take that on. Yes! Little by little, my job turned strictly into church communications, and now I am in HEAVEN! I'd do my job for free, but don't tell the senior pastor I said that. Ha!
After much trial and error, I've found my sweet spot. I LOVE working for the church where my gifts are being used on full blast.
If you're currently frustrated wondering what your purpose is in the ministry, don't worry. It takes years to discover your calling. Try reading S.H.A.P.E. by Eric Rees. It's not going to end your quest, but it gives you permission to explore using your natural passions and abilities for the sake of ministry. Try a few experiences. It's OK if they don't work out. Just keep on chuggin' because eventually you'll find your sweet spot.