Knowing your Giftedness.

As a pastor in a church where leadership development is a core value, I spend a lot of time trying to help people determine their giftedness. Scripture indicates that God gifts every believer with some kind of gift to be used for building up the body of Christ (1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4; Romans 12; 1 Timothy 4:14, etc...). Obviously, if God has given you a gift, it would be important to know what it is so you can put it to use. I'm all about that.

However, I am also convinced that the program-driven "Here's a test. Come back and let us know the results so you can plug you in our system" approach to discovering your giftedness is fundamentally flawed.

It seems to me, inventories and self-selecting gift tests too often cause us to identify what we want our gifts to be rather than what they actually are. Since we're dreaming about future ministry, when we approach a spiritual gifts inventory we're in the aspirational mindset and tend to either (1) look through the lens of who we hope to become, or (2) look towards the gifts we hope we have. It's amazing how my spiritual gift inventories always tend to reflect the giftings of the people I most admire and the gifts that I think will allow me to be seen in the best light. Don't lie... yours do too.

Inventories are also weak because giftedness is not always recognized by a person or fully developed on the front-end of their ministries. Timothy had to be reminded to "fan his gift into a flame" (2 Timothy 1:6). Most inventories also reflect a person's own perception of the effectiveness and degree to which they're gifted. And, a person will always score low on a category they've never tried.

My experience is that spiritual giftedness is never determined, it is discovered through faithful service. What do you think?


Jay Felker said...

I'm glad you wrote about this. I've said for years that inventories can be dangerous because I can answer the questions in a way that reflects my own selfish desires of gifting, and less of what the Spirit has blessed me with having.

It seems to be that the body is designed to recognize the gifting in one another. I believe its our responsibility to not only put people into positions of service, but also to give them feedback when we feel they are gifted in a specific way. If I feel a person has the gift of service, and others are recognizing it within the body we need to relay that message to the individual.

That to me seems a much safer way to recognize gifting because its not just based on me answering questions to a quiz in the pastor's office, its based on real ministry experience and feedback from brothers and sisters in Christ who are observing my service, and looking out for the interest of me, but also for the Body as a whole.

Now whether that happens often or not is a different story!

The Kinley's said...

Exactly! You could also ask the person who is mentoring you, they would have a little insight.