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Identifying Your Spiritual Gift
Welcome to another Thursday UNFILTERED substack article, the only substack newsletter that warns that if you ever get your face pierced, have a limit. Too many piercings will make some people think you got in a fight with a tackle box and lost.
Recently, a friend who is a spiritual leader asked me the following question:
“In our fellowship, we are talking about being the family of God. Soon we will talk about how members of a family contribute to the whole. Do you have any resources that help people discover their spiritual function/gifts in the body of Christ?”
Let me make a bold statement by way of introduction.
I don’t believe that a person can accurately identify their gift(s) in the body of Christ by taking a man-created diagnostic test (similar to a personality test).
Imagine a pregnant woman. Her unborn child – a female -- is at the seventh-month mark.
The father asks, “How do I identify if she can run fast? How do I figure out if she can roll her tongue? I want to identify if she’s left handed or right handed. How do I identify if she is naturally gifted at basketball? Or if she can learn a musical instrument with ease?”
These are all the wrong questions.
Let the child be born. Raise it in its proper environment and meet her basic needs, and she will naturally grow into her gifts and display them.
In the same way, if a Christian is put into his/her proper environment, and that Christian is taught how to know Christ and is encouraged to share Him, he/she will naturally display their gifts.
The other members of the body of Christ who are part of that local fellowship in which that Christian is functioning will know what his or her gifts are.
I’m speaking from first-hand experience here.
Whenever I’ve worked with a group of Christians, my goal was never to tell them how to identify or figure out their gifts. (I don’t see any support for this in the New Testament.)
Instead, my task was to reveal Christ to them in a way that left them intoxicated with HIM. I’ve then shown them how to know and encounter Him, and I’ve given them a little bit of training on how to function in an open-participatory meeting with the other believers.
And in time, spiritual gifts began to manifest and everyone was benefited.
But we had no need to label them.
The function is what’s important. Not the title.
Given that most churches today have no environment like what I’ve just described, it’s enormously difficult for God’s people to function. And thus, to see their gifts in operation.
This gets back to habitats.
The Christian has a native habitat. Remove a Christian from his/her native habitat and put them into an artificial environment, and he/she won’t function as God designed.
(See “Rethinking the Five-Fold Ministry” as well as Part 2 of From Eternity to Here for details on habitats and how they work in the kingdom of God.)
Someone may object saying, “Well, I’ve been a Christian for 15 years, so your infant analogy doesn’t fit me.”
Ah, but it does. Here’s why.
In an organic expression of the church, everyone is a babe when it comes to functioning.
And most Christians have never been in such an environment.
(If you have lived in such a habitat, then your years of being a Christian in that environment certainly does count when it comes to displaying spiritual gifts.)
Understand this. The gifts and functions of the body of Christ look VERY different in THAT environment than they do in a controlled artificial environment.
The same thing happens when an animal is removed from their native habitat and placed into controlled artificial environments. They don’t function normally. (I’ve explained how this works in the above two resources. This is a short article, not a book.)
I’ve unraveled this next point in Reimagining Church, but the terms “apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds,” etc. were never used as honorific titles in the New Testament (as they are today on social media and elsewhere).
These terms were simply functions.
For that reason, you’ll never see phrases like “Pastor Jethro,” “Evangelist Philip,” or even “Apostle Paul”
(In the New Testament, it’s always “Paul, an apostle” or “Philip, the evangelist.”)
Again, these terms were functions, not titles. But that’s another topic.
So with all of this in mind, here’s the advice I gave to my friend:
Give them Jesus Christ. Unveil His riches to them where they are left breathless. (I’ve explained this in 48 Laws of Spiritual Power, but most preachers and teachers today have no idea how to do this. In the Insurgence Experience (IXP) Mastermind, we explore how.)
Give them practical ways on how to know and encounter the Lord. (Explained in the IXP Mastermind and on The Deeper Christian Life Network.)
Create an environment where they can freely function, and encourage them to share the Lord as He has revealed Himself to them. (Again, most leaders don’t know how to do this because they’ve never seen or experienced it themselves. Part 3 of Finding Organic Church will give a group of believers a strong start on how to do some of it practically.)
For the article and books mentioned in this piece, they are linked at the bottom of this article on the website. That’s where to comment or ask a question as well.