Now that we've acknowledged that we have gifts - it's time to start using our spiritual gifts to serve others. I know, it's a scary thought.
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Those are very good concerns, but do you remember the story of the talents? You can read the full account in Matthew 25: 14-30 and Luke 19: 11-27. Read both accounts as they each give a slightly different perspective. These are the major lessons I want to focus on from that parable:
Now that we have the expectations out of the way, let's talk about how we can start using our gifts for God. The first thing we have to remember is that the gifts we received were for the building up of the local congregation. It's intended to benefit the congregation that we are a part of.
Maybe you had hoped to be given the gift of music but instead received the gift of teaching. God in His ultimate wisdom knows that your church has a strong music ministry but needs more teachers so His sheep can learn more about Him and what is expected from them. That's where you come in.
Identify the specific need of your church and figure out how you can fit in.
Observe the existing ministry (if there is one) and make notes of the strengths and weaknesses of the program.
Talk to the church of your church and that specific ministry; ask them their vision for the church and how that particular department is intended to support the vision and mission of the church.
This is not an opportunity for you to force your vision on the members of the church. Rather, it's an opportunity to support the mission of Christ through your personal efforts.
This number varies and is dependent on your ability and how well you have used the gifts you have been given to this point. Remember the parable of the talents? The man who had gifts was given more gifts because he had been faithful. Please remember that our gifts are given to us by the Holy Spirit. He decides which gifts you receive and how many.
I would like to give an explanation of some of the different spiritual gifts with practical ways you can use them.
Note: this is not an exhaustive list; it's just a starting point to get your mind thinking about how to use your particular one.
The gift of exhortation is the ability to encourage those who are feeling discouraged, depressed or disillusioned within the body of Christ. If you are exhort, people feel helped or healed. People who have this gift can find that random people - even you don't know very well - tell them the strangest things.
I want you to know that these persons are not necessarily over-sharing. They are what you say will remain with you, and what they say will remain with you. It's easier to serve in this capacity when we know and care for the person who is struggling so I want to focus on how you can help someone you know hardly.
You can serve in this capacity by:
Listening actively - it may seem strange that someone you don't know starts counting their life story but getting over the weirdness. Be sure that you do not show on your face. Pay attention to what the person is saying and make the appropriate responses so they understand that you are listening.
Offering a word of encouragement —notice I said encouragement, not advice. This person is not download because they want advice. They are sharing because they have a bear and it's too heavy to bear. We are called to bear one another's burdens so that's what you're doing. You're temporarily too heavy for them.
Letting Scripture guide you - this is an opportunity to offer biblical wisdom. Even if the person is not a Christian you can use this opportunity to share the Word of God with them. A fellow Christian may be encouraged by being reminded that there is instruction in the Bible which addresses their concern.
Praying - sacrifice to pray with them. In fact, before you respond to them ask the Holy Spirit to give you the right words to say. Ask the person if it's okay to pray with them. If they say no, pray for them afterwards (yes, this applies even if you don't know their name).
Remaining confidential — the things that are shared with you are kept confidential. Do not share what was discussed. Disclaimer: if you believe the person is a physical threat to themselves or another person you may need to get additional help. But try to do this without exposing the person to ridicule or shame.
Are you a person who just knows that God will intervene in whatever situation you find yourself in? Do you have an uncanny ability to believe in the supernatural power of God? Then you may have the gift of faith.
A person with this gift will be more aware of God's hand in every situation. Don't be surprised if you find yourself in a testifying role. As you share what God has done for you, you build the faith of others and help them believe that God is able to do the miraculous for them too.
So, what is the spiritual gift of mercy? Do you easily empathize with others or feel compassion for them? Are you drawn to those who suffer disturbing physical, mental, or emotional problems? Do you cheerfully serve others as you work to alleviate their suffering?
If you have the gift of mercy you may best serve in an outreach capacity. Find out what your needs are in the church and the community.
Empathize - you were given the gift of mercy so let people know you care. Make sure you understand what they're going through.
Do you love supporting others? Are you a person who prefers to backstage instead of in the spotlight? The spiritual gift of help is critical for helping each member increase the effectiveness of their spiritual gifts.
Offer yourself as a mentor, someone who offers guidance and advice to the youth of new believers.
Do you love planning and putting things in place? Can you clearly and easily see the long-term goals and the steps to get there? The gift of administration is integral to seeing these plans for the vision and mission of the church.
Get involved in the leadership of your church. Find out how you can help others in that capacity.
Identify ways that the church can be more organized because it is the body of Christ it is also an organization. What can the church do better in terms of keeping records and equipping its members? Help to set goals and implement programs that will foster the ministry of the church.
Do you love researching and learning new things? Are you constantly finding new insights from your study of God's Word?
The gift of knowledge is to foster spiritual maturity in the body of Christ. As you learn new things about God, share it with someone. Make the information widely available. You may need to align yourself with the teaching arm of your congregation.
Get involved in your small group ministry. Learn how to host small Bible studies at church, in your home or in another venue.
Did I discuss your dominant gift? How are you using your spiritual gifts to serve others?