What are my spiritual gifts?
Network 4

It wasn't too long after creation that the animals got together to form a school. They wanted the best school possible-one that offered each students a well-rounded curriculum of swimming, running, climbing, and flying. In order to graduate, the ani­mals agreed they would each have to take all the courses.

The duck was excellent at swimming. In fact, he was better than his instructor. But he was only making passing grades at climbing and was getting a very poor grade in running. The duck was so slow in running that he had to stay after school every day to practice. Even with that, there was little improvement. His webbed feet got badly worn from running, and with such worn feet, he was then only able to get an average grade in swimming. Average was quite acceptable to everyone else, so no one worried much about it-except the duck.

The rabbit was at the top of her class in running. But after a
while, she developed a twitch in her leg from all the time she spent in the water trying to improve her swimming.

The squirrel was a peak performer in climbing but was con­stantly frustrated in flying class. His body became so bruised from all the hard landings that he did not do too well in climbing and ended up being pretty poor in running. The eagle was a continual problem student. She was severely disciplined for being a nonconformist. For example, in climbing class, she would always beat everyone else to the top of the tree but insisted on using her own way to get there.

Each of the animals had a particular area of expertise. When they did what they were designed to do, they excelled. When they tried to operate outside their area of expertise, they were not nearly as effective. Can ducks run? Of course they can. Is that what they do best? Definitely not.

Just as each animal has an area where they are naturally gifted for survival, so when we trust in
Christ we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and receive spiritual gifts to help build up the Body of Christ. These gifts enable us to excel, but we will not accomplish much if we do not know what those gifts are or are not using them in the Church as God intended. The Network Course we are following these Sunday evenings is designed to help us achieve two things…

Your spiritual gift indicates the role, function, or par­ticular way in which God has intended you to serve.  Do you know your spiritual gift or gifts? I know for many years I was hazy as to what mine were and that impacted my teaching on the subject. And yet its ironic – if I asked you what GCSE grades you got 20 years ago or what A level subjects you took or your degree subject, you would probably be able to tell me. Just as it is difficult if not impossible to get a meaningful job with no training or study reflected in academic of practical qualifications, so we should not expect to be fulfilled in the Church if we have not identified our gifts or undertaken some means of evaluating or nurturing those gifts. That’s why this course is so important to both you and the future of our Church.

What Are the Spiritual Gifts?
Last week we looked at a definition and here it is again. This week we want to look at spiritual gifts in more detail.
There are several passages that mention some of the spiri­tual gifts (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4). There is a list of the spiritual gifts identified from these passages in your news sheet along with a CWR questionnaire that may help you identify your gifts. As you read about the gifts, reflect on your own ministry and experience. See which of these seem to be most true of you. Also, note which gifts sound like someone you know. Remember, there is no right or wrong spiritual gift. They are just different.

In both the Network participants guide and Bugbee’s book, “What you do best in the Body of Christ” you will find a spiritual gift assessment. I invite you to do the assessment and attend the next Network course on Tuesday 18th and 25th February.

Confusion About Spiritual Gifts

We have identified many of the gifts mentioned in Scripture and have already focused on the reasons, benefits, definition, and descriptions of the spiritual gifts. While we have been focusing on why the spiritual gifts are, we need to be careful not to confuse spiritual gifts with other terms and important concepts.

1. Don't confuse spiritual gifts with natural talents
Talents can be an indicator to your giftedness but do not necessarily equate to your spiritual gift. Everyone has some nature abilities, but God has reserved his spiritual gifts for believers.  Only those who have personally trusted
Jesus Christ and received his Holy Spirit have a spiritual gift. Let's compare and contrast natural talents and spiritual gifts.

Natural talents are given at our physical birth; spiritual gifts are given at our spiritual birth. In the same way that we have particular talents that distinguish us from others when we are physically born, we receive a spiritual gift that enables us to make a unique contribution when we are spiritually born. Natural talents are an expression of God's common grace to all who have life. Spiritual gifts are his specific grace given to those who have received new life. Although natural talents and spiritual gifts are not the same, all that we have ought to and can be used to glorify God and edify others.

Natural talents may be transformed by the Holy Spirit and  empowered
as spiritual gifts. For example, some­one may be an effective nurse in a hospital and be recognized as having a mercy gift in the church.  A graphic designer working for a publisher may discover that they also have a spiritual gift of creative communication. The successful salesperson could be affirmed with the gift of evangelism.

Bruce Bugbee has assisted over twelve thousand people through this discovery process, and has not been able to identify when, and for whom, a natural talent will be equivalent to a spiritual gift. In fact, in most cases there is no correlation between natural talents and spiritual gifts. Being a teacher in a school does not mean a person has a spiritual gift of teaching.
Being an effective bank manager does not guaran­tee anointed leadership or administration gifts in the church. In order to determine whether or not there is a relationship between a natural talent and a spiritual gift, ask yourself, Does my natural ability regularly glorify God and edify others in the church? Both natural talents and spiritual gifts can vary in degree and kind. Just as there are athletes with tremendous natural abilities and others with less, so too spiritual gifts may fulfill different capacities according to God's purposes.

Just as there are good singers and great singers, some of those with the spiritual gift of leadership will lead tens, others hundreds, and others thousands. Just remember, both natural talents and spiritual gifts are God-given. Both natural talents and spiritual gifts need to be identified, developed, and used to the glory of God. We are all stewards, responsible for all that he has given us. Our talents and gifts are specific ways in which God has extended his grace to us in order for us to be a gracious blessing to others. Your spiritual gifts are your primary ministry contribution to the body of
Christ. Your talents may or may not be a contributing factor.

2. Don't confuse spiritual gifts with the fruit of the Spirit
Both spiritual gifts and the fruit of the Spirit are necessary for
us to be productive and fulfilled in our ministry, but they make very  distinct contributions. The fruit of the Spiit are "being" qualities; spintual gifts are "doing" qualities. "The fruit of the Spirt is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23) These are inward characteristics of the believer's heart, revealed it their purity and holiness as that person grows and manifests grace The fruit of the Spirit indicates what we should be. Spiritual gifts are task-oriented functions or roles that God has called and equipped each believer to perform. Spiritual gifts indicate what we do. The fruit of the Spirit is a natural by-product of an abiding and obedient relationship with Jesus Christ. Spiritual gifts are given when we become Christians, and they are always a part of us and can be used appropriately and inappropriately, as is evident from Paul’s letter to Corinth. Obedience and submission to Christ will, over time, transform our selfish and sinful hearts to produce yielded hearts that evidence authentic fruit such as love, joy, peace, and all the others.

Both the fruit of the Spirit and spiritual gifts are essential for effec­tive ministry. Spiritual gifts and fruit of the Spirit both need to be developed. God is not as much concerned with what we do as he is with the spirit in which we serve. For example, if we use our spir­itual gifts to the fullest but do not have love, it does not please God or make a kingdom difference (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 – Read verses).

To maximize our ministry and life potential, we need to express both the fruit and the gifts. What are the gifts without love? What is love without the expression of gifts? Both are essential for fruitfulness in ministry.   I think we have discovered that Spiritual gifts cannot be used effectively when there is con­fusion surrounding what they are and how God intends them to be expressed. Knowing what your spiritual gifts are and how God intended them to function within the church is crucial for you, our church, and the kingdom of God.

Your Passion and Spiritual Gifts
So far we have noted that every Christian has at least one God given spiritual gift…  We’ve covered the first two dimensions of passion and gifting. Your passion reveals your heart's desire and your spiritual gifts indicate your task abilities. As we have seen, these are not the same thing. Your passion will indicate where you are best suited to serve. Your spiritual gifts will indicate what you will do when you serve.
You will see how these fit together
when your servant profile has been completed. Next week we shall explore in more detail the relationship between spiritual gifts and fruit for it is vital we employ our gifts with love. It is no coincidence, for example that teaching on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in John 14 and 16 is sandwiched between a chapter on love, chapter 15. Similarly in 1 Corinthians between two chapters on the Holy Spirit 12 & 14 we have a chapter dedicated to love. Finally we will examine the third dimension of our personal style.

How we relate to others and the world around us. For example, how is it that some of us are dreamers, while others are realists? Why are some people thinkers, and other people are more feeling-oriented? How is it that some of us are wallflowers, and others are the life of the party? God has given each of us our own personal style to complement our passions and gifts. For now lets pray and ask God to confirm in our hearts and minds the spiritual gifts he has given us for his glory. Lets pray.


This talk is based upon chapter 5 of “What you do best in the Body of Christ” by Bruce Bugbee (Zondervan)