How To Waste Your Gifts

In several passages of the New Testament, Paul talks about spiritual gifts.  He explains that we’re each given certain gifts when we become followers of Christ.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

I Corinthians 12:7-11

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reminded of this topic.  Last week, I led a discussion in my Foundations Class about gifts.  This week at RIOT, guest speaker, Matt Silver, spoke about the importance of sharing our gifts instead of hoarding them.  Yesterday, I was having a conversation with Terri Stone, the Pastor of Pastor Care, and we talked about the importance of using our gifts in the right places.  As I’ve been thinking more about the subject, it dawned on me that many of us waste our gifts.  Here are some of the ways we waste our gifts:

  1. We don’t know our gifts.  If I read Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Corinthians correctly, we each have spiritual gifts (when we decide to make Jesus the leader and forgiver of our lives).  How can we use or gifts, if we don’t know what they are?
  2. We don’t serve in our area of giftedness.  Instead of being strategic, we take an unplanned approach to jumping into ministry.  This does a disservice to the body of Christ.  It’s like taking off our arm, attaching it to our head, and trying to listen with it.  It just doesn’t work right.  My arm wasn’t meant to be an ear.  Some of us are not meant to teach.  Some of us are not meant to preach.
  3. We over-serve.  I may have just made up that word.  Here’s what I mean.  We over involve ourselves.  We plug into every ministry we possible can.  Our calendars are completely filled up with serving opportunities.  This is like asking our hands to listen, to speak, to think, to walk, to see, to smell, to digest our food, to breathe, etc.  You get the idea.  Our hands can’t do all that.  And if they tried, they would wear out pretty quickly.  Strategically serving where we are gifted keeps us from wearing out.  It also allows other parts of the body to serve where they are gifted.

So how can we use our gifts more wisely?  Here are a couple of ideas.

  1. Discover your spiritual gifts.  Talk to leaders in your church.  Ask them if they offer help for discerning your spiritual gifts.  There are several spiritual gifts “tests” that can be used to help you figure out how you might be gifted.  Check out Discover Your Spiritual Gifts The Network Way by Bruce Bugbee.
  2. Be strategic with your spiritual gifts.  Jump in and serve where you are gifted.  It will feel right to be serving where you are gifted.  Find out how you can get involved at your church.  Go through the list and cross of ministry areas where you know you’ll fail.  Circle the ministry areas that interest you.  Start serving.  If one area of service doesn’t work out, try a different area that you circled.  It’s important for you to plug-in where you are most gifted.  The whole body will benefit.  I would also encourage you to find accountability.  Use friends and church leaders to help direct you to an area of service that fits you best.  Often others can see where you fit in better than you can see yourself.
  3. Resist the urge to do everything.  You may be robbing others of using their gifts to the fullest when you do everything.  Besides, you will wear yourself out and become ineffective when you try to do everything.  Find your sweet spot!

I know that I need these reminders from time to time.  It’s easy for me to lose focus on my spiritual gifts.  I tend to over involve myself in areas that don’t match up with my giftedness.  I want to be a productive part of the body of Christ.  I don’t want to waste my gifts!

Do you know your spiritual gifts?  How are you using your gifts to serve the body of Christ?  What other suggestions do you have for making the most of our spiritual gifts?