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Exercising Our Spiritual Gift(s) - Growing in Your Gift(s)

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May God bless you all!
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Maranatha Emanuel!
There is no special formula for growing and "tuning" your spiritual gift(s). As you grow in grace and knowledge in Christ, and as you are submitted to His will, you will find that the Holy Spirit will use you to serve Christ more and more and with that spiritual growth will come an expansion of the use of your spiritual gift.
God the Father may decide to expand the scope and power of your gift. The Lord Jesus will likely move you through multiple positions within the church as you grow and mature. The Holy Spirit may cause multiple manifestations as you exercise your gift for the Lord and to benefit the church.
Identifying/Exercising/Growing Your Gift(s)
1.
Start by praying and asking God for His guidance.
Go to the Scripture and
study and meditate on the following passages: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12-14, and Ephesians 4; and review the previous articles for comments and supporting Scriptures on the gifts mentioned in those passages. Study what the spiritual gift words mean. One suggestion is to look them up in the Greek - most Strong's concordances have a condensed Greek dictionary at the back (e.g., the word "prophecy" means numerous things in the Bible). It can mean foretelling what will occur in the future OR, as it says in 1 Corinthians 14:3, "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men
to
edification, and exhortation, and comfort."
2.
Take a spiritual gifts test/inventory (or two or three).
These tests are
man-made, and therefore, not by any means perfect. Remember a couple of things regarding these tests: First, the younger you are the harder it may be to identify any dominate gift. Second, as you mature in Christ, you will find other gifts starting to mature and score higher in these tests as well. Third, you may have a single dominant gift, but depending on your position within the body, you may find other gifts competing for first place in your scores. By taking more than one test and by taking those tests every few years, you will get a better picture of the gifts that God has given you.
As you test, pray for God's direction. Talk with people you know and trust as spiritual leaders and who know you well and get their feedback because others often see things we cannot about ourselves. Specifically seek out spiritual mentors who know both your strengths and weaknesses. Observe the areas of your life where you feel inspired to serve God and others. However, remember the weaknesses of these tests/inventories:
They should not be used as the sole source of information in determining spiritual gifts.
Realize inventories vary widely in how well they are constructed.
Item content and wording on scales varies widely and can affect the results.
3.
Study your dominant gift.
One (possibly two) of the many gifts will score the
highest. If you agree with the motivational/office/manifestations system of understanding the gifts, one of these will surface at the top: prophecy, teaching, serving, exhortation, ruling, giving, and mercy. Now do a complete Bible study of that gift. For example, study the lives of Bible characters which are known to have that gift. Look up the word in the concordance and study every verse with that word. Don't forget to look at the verses around the verse with that word so that you can get a sense of the context in which that word is used. Start a notebook of your findings. You are likely to find many characteristics of that gift (for example (most prophets seem to be easily melancholy with ups and downs like Elijah).
As you study and discover the charachteristics of your dominant gift, list those characteristics and do a further study of them, and then examine those characteristics for the following: Which ones do I exhibit? Which ones do I not exhibit? Which ones can be developed in my life and, therefore, I can work on? Which ones cannot just be improved because I am not that kind of person? Examples: Perhaps you find out that servers are generally punctual. You are always late for things. This is definitely something you can work on and change in your life. Let's say that you are a prophet and you see one of the characteristics is weeping (like Jeremiah - a weeping prophet). This is not your natural trait, and if you're not a weeping prophet, it will most likely not ever be a characteristic you will have. This is generally not something to seek after. If the Holy Spirit wants you to be a weeping prophet, He will make you so.
4.
Exercise your gift(s).
Pray for guidance every morning. As you give your day to
the Lord, ask Him for opportunities to serve using your spiritual gift. Note that these gifts are for the edifying the Body of Christ first and foremost, but that doesn't mean we can't use them towards the lost. Example: you have the gift of serving and a family member is bed-ridden and lost. What an opportunity to serve, and by doing so, witness to that family member as you serve them in their need. A prophet shares the Word with co-workers, a teacher shares insights with family members who are either lost or backslidden. It may be that God has led you to the "Gentiles" (as in the lost people around you) as opposed to the "Jews" (the family of the church body).
5.
Build your plan and seek wise counsel.
Ok, now you need to consider who can
be an accountability partner or someone who you consider a spiritual father or mother. Check with them on your overall spiritual growth plan after you have determined what characteristics of that gift you need to work on. It would be good to include in your plan the following:
My Dominant Gift (MDG) and sub-gifts
MDG characteristics I have
MDG characteristics I do not have
Verses that highlight the characteristics (for both above)
Potential opportunities/places/ways to express my gift
How I plan to practice my gift in the listed opportunities
Results God has provided as I exercise my gift
Please note - do not force a man-made plan! This must be Holy Spirit led and prayed over. A mentor can assist in praying with you and helping you work out such a plan.
6.
Exercise your gift.
You may already be mature enough to know your gift and
have been exercising your gift for some time. As the Spirit leads, keep it up! A study might still be very advantageous in letting you see things regarding your gift that are currently blind spots for you. Your trusted mentors may be able to assist in that area as well as help with supporting you in finding opportunities to serve using your gift.
Hindrances to Using/Growing Spiritual Gifts
Pride!
Some Christians once they know about their spiritual gift then become proud.
This is especially true of a sign gift. Pride is self-exaltation; spiritual gifts are not about us so we should not be exalting ourselves! Remember that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. If pride begins to develop, I suspect that God will severely limit your gift's effectiveness or opportunities to exercise it.
Fear!
Fear comes in many forms, and some fear results when we fear man more
than God. Some fear to let others know about their gift lest they be labeled prideful. It is wrong to be afraid to have an accurate awareness of our strengths and weaknesses and to fear that others may think you as prideful when you share that information with others. Some gifts are very visible while others are quiet and behind the scenes. Remember spiritual gifts are "bestowed" by God, and you are a steward of that gift. Remember the talents parable! Fear of failure is also bad - if it prevents us from using our gift. Who is in charge? God is! He gave you the gift; He will bless the results, even if we can't see the result for years. Some plant, some water, and others harvest!
Instead - be humble!
Humbly using spiritual gifts does not involve the extremes of
pride or inferiority. Romans 12:3: "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think
of himself
more highly than he ought to
think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." Instead of making us proud or self-reliant; understanding that our worth, spiritual gifts, and talents come from Christ should lead us to desire to serve Him more fully and faithfully.
Desire another's gift:
We often value some gifts over others which is a real problem
among our Pentecostal brethren. We value some gifts over others because they seem so important, take the limelight, or seem to do what we cannot and wish we could. Our goal should be to have a biblical view of spiritual gifts and recognize God can use them in whatever manner He sees fit to use them in the body. Spiritual gifts are God's! (1 Corinthians 12). Some ethnic and church cultures tend to value some gifts to the exclusions of others. Sometimes believers are using their spiritual gifts and don't know it! When this happens, they tend to devalue the gifts because they don't seem "special." Accept what God has chosen for you and develop and be a good steward of that gift and see what He might add down the road as you mature.
Myopia:
When you feel strongly (or emotionally) about a particular role, mission, or
ministry, you might start to view other opportunities as less important, less spiritual, or not for you since you are waiting for the one you just know God has set aside for you. This can lead you to devalue other possible ministries that God has sent your way for training and maturing purposes as well as to edify and strengthen the Body of Christ. Sometime such as one becomes judgmental regarding those "lesser opportunities." Two thoughts: "When you do it to the least of these . . ." (Matthew 25:40 (paraphrased)), and don't let the following be true in your life: "When you have a hammer, everything else becomes a nail" (paraphrased).
Comparing your gift against other gifts.
Comparison keep many believers from
using their spiritual gifts: We start to compare ourselves to others whom may have a larger scope ministry, or or a different gift that seems to reach more people. We may have forgotten the source of our gift. God gives the power (the scope and size) so I would be foolish to compare myself to Billy Graham, or myself to a great Bible teacher if I don't even have a teaching gift. We sometimes say to ourselves: "She does that so much better than me." "I can't do much; so why try?" Satan wins when believers compare themselves to each other. 2 Corinthians 10:12: ". . . but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
Complacency:
OK, you're a teacher with a teaching gift, and you have been
teaching small groups with the same material for ten years. You have become complacent if you never dig deeper, or study new Bible passages, or help your students to grow past what they already have learned. Matthew 13:52 says: "Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe
which is
instructed unto the kingdom of
heaven is like unto a man
that is
a householder, which bringeth forth out of his
treasure
things
new and old." Spritual gifts were never meant to bring limitations
on our willingness to be a help serving with others. Just because you have a spiritual gift in one area doesn't mean that you shouldn't help with opportunities in other areas where the church may be working. For example: "I'm sorry, I can't help you with church cleaning, I only have the gift of teaching." Imagine the pride that exudes!
Rebellous attitude:
Two things here:
First
: do not feel that because you have a
certain gift that you ought to be in charge. You might have a powerful ministry within a local body, and results are obvious. But the church is eldered by what appears to be an old saint past his prime. You don't like taking orders from him, and it is obvious that you are doing much more for the kingdom than he is . . . WOE, WOE, WOE! Pride has slipped in, and any refusal to be under duly appointed authority in the body is a real danger sign.
Second
: Sometimes you may
feel called to a certain role or opportunity and automatically assume others should either "agree or get out of the way." Identifying a spritual gift does not give someone license to become high-minded or be unwilling to seek and accept counsel, etc. You must be cautious in using the phrase, "God told me." Did He? God uses those in authority (parents, bosses, elders, etc.) to guide us and mold/shape us, and any attempt to circumvent those authorities in our life, even if they don't have or understand your gift, is a serious mistake and will result in a reduced ministry. This can also be used on your part as a way to avoid accountability when authority has asked you to do something. Remember the Bible repeatedly affirms spiritual gifts are to be used in the context of the body of believers.
Forsaking assembly.
The process of growning and maturing spiritually is part of
every aspect of the Christian walk, including spiritual gifts. Your spiritual gifts will move from "milk to meat" as you grow from "milk to meat." We need to help each other grow through support, accountability, mentoring, and discipleship. Spritual gifts expressed in your life will likely change or shift across your life span. Times change, church memberships change. Ministry opportunities change. Jesus sent them out two by two. A threefold cord is not easily broken. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves with other believers, especially those with like or complementary gifts. Where one can make one thousand flee, two can make ten thousand flee! Iron sharpens iron. (Get the point?)
This finishes the series of articles on spiritual gifts - but not your lifelong exercise and growth in your gifts.
Bro. Joe