There are many of us God-seeking, Jesus-loving, and Christ-following attenders in church today who as we grow closer to the Lord find in ourselves an intense need to be EFFECTIVE. We want to be Jesus to the world around us, to make a difference and to be a light in dark places. We read scriptures in the Bible that instruct us to go into the world share the Good News of Jesus, to baptize, make disciples, to teach, to meet the needs of the poor, sick, and oppressed, and numerous other commands. However, we get overwhelmed and paralyzed by the monumental tasks because we feel ill-equipped, under-manned, and outgunned. Yet, we are inspired and driven to serve and minister to others if we are heeding the call that the Holy Spirit places on our lives. The first step to being effective is knowing who God has made you, and having an awareness of the unique gifts he has placed in you.
I recently read a book called, “Experiencing the Spirit” by Robert Heidler and it has been such a great resource to understanding my role in ministry as a layperson. He states that Paul described three different categories of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
He labels the gifts that describe “working” as the Motivational Gifts. Once we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation, He activates a primary motivation within us to focus our service to others. Each of these is an expression of the heart of Jesus and are listed as follows in Romans 12:6-8:
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
It may be hard to determine which of these gifts is your primary motivation as you are serving others; or you may immediately read one of the above and know it clearly applies to you. There are various spiritual gifts tests out there to determine this, but the book goes on to give a concrete illustration credited to Bill Gothard for seeing each of these gifts at work. I challenge you to ask the Holy Spirit to bring to the forefront one of these roles and begin to explore how to become effective in ministry by growing your primary motivational, God-given gift!
Suppose you are sitting down for a meal at a table. Around the table are a number of Christians, each with a different motivational gift. Suddenly a little child spills a glass of milk. Each of the people around the table decides to take action to help the situation. The action they take will be determined by the motivational gift God has given them.
* The prophet may give correction, telling the child he was wrong not to be paying attention to what he was doing
* The teacher will give instruction. He will point out the to child that if he sets the glass farther back from the edge of the table, it will not be as likely to spill the next time.
* The giver will run to get the child another glass of milk. When the giver sees a need, his basic motivation is to meet it.
* The person with the gift of serving will mop up the milk.
* The person who shows mercy will be hugging the child and consoling him, so he doesn’t feel so bad about the spilled milk.
* The leader is probably coordinating the effort of both the dinner and the clean up, and is quick to move everyone to action concerning the spilled milk.
* There is likely someone who is also encouraging and motivating the group to do their role to the best of their ability, the cheerleader!
Where did you see yourself? Maybe you see more than one motivational gift in your personality and the actions you have witnessed in your life. Once you can identify the unique motivational gift(s) that God has placed inside you, you will feel empowered to walk this out in your service to others.
In future devotionals, I’m excited to explore the additional two areas of spiritual gifts Paul describes, which I will call the “Ministry Gifts” and “Leadership Gifts.”