Another leader suggests someone else. "Yeah, they are really committed and they seem to have the perfect skill set for this ministry!"
"You're right," another leader responds, "but they are already involved in four or five other things. I'm not sure we should ask them."
"Well," still yet another leader pitches in, "if you want something done you give it to someone who is already busy!" This proverbial tidbit of popular and oft-repeated "wisdom" is received as if it were written on tablets of stone and descended from Mt. Sinai. "Besides," the leader continues, "they can always say, 'No!' if they don't want to do it."
And the matter is decided. A congregation full of talented people is overlooked and unchallenged because the most common practice is to go to the same group of folks who always do everything. Some cite the 80-20 rule — 20% of the people do 80% of the work and giving while 80% of the people do 20% of the work and giving — forgetting that many of the flock are very busy in kingdom related ministry that is not recognized as ministry because it is not initiated and recognized by the congregation. Others don't know who else to ask because they either don't know the flock or they have never emphasized the important truths of "the priesthood of all believers" and helped people understand and discover their spiritual gifts.
We've tried to listen to the Holy Spirit's voice as we've looked at living for "Just One"! And if we listen for the Spirit's voice in Scripture, we hear several very important truths about spiritual gifts and each of us having an important role to play in the work of Jesus.
There are four key passages on spiritual gifts in the New Testament (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31; Ephesians 4:7-16; 1 Peter 4:7-11). We are going to concentrate on one of these passages (Romans 12:3-8) and notice seven truths we find in this passage, which Paul claims comes from the gift he has received to instruct them ("For through the grace [gift] given to me I say to everyone among you ..." Romans 12:3). So here are Paul's seven inspired truths about spiritual gifts:
- Don't think too much about ourselves (... not think more highly of himself than he ought to think ... Romans 12:3). Discovering, knowing, and using our gifts begins with humility and realizing that spiritual gifts are not about us personally, but about honoring God and blessing his people. If it becomes about us, we can pout because we don't have the gifts we want, we can say "Yes!" to every request we think we are the only person who can do each job correctly, or we can have a hard time saying "No!" because we don't want anyone disappointed with us.
- Decide, based on the faith and wisdom given us, what our gift is (... think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12:3). While churches can have gift discovery ministries and we can read books available to us on spiritual gifts, there is a direct responsibility on each of us to ask the Spirit to guide us into the ministries to use our gifts.
- Remember we belong to a body (For just as we have many members in one body ... so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Romans 12:4-5). There are many secular service organizations. They do good things and it is good to be a member of these kinds of groups. However, there is no such thing as a member of a church. The Bible never uses that language. Instead, we are members of a body — not a club or a group, but of a living organism that is the very presence of Jesus. And when a part of the body doesn't function or isn't present, the whole body suffers!
- Each member of Jesus' body has gifts (Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly ... Romans 12:6). If we have confessed Christ, been baptized, and received the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have been gifted by God! Each is the most emphasized concept in this passage! These gifts are different so that the church literally be the presence of Jesus in the world.
- God — as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — gave us these gifts (... according to the grace given us ... Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6). God is sovereign and chooses to whom to give what gifts. We don't choose our area of giftedness, but God does. And the gifts all come from him.
- We have these gifts to bless God, bless others, and even bless ourselves (... excise them accordingly ... with cheerfulness ... Romans 12:6-8; 1 Peter 4:10-11; 1 Corinthians 12:7). We use them to make a difference in the life of Jesus' Body and bless our brothers and sisters in Christ.
- We are to use our gifts and not let them atrophy (Since we have gifts ... each of us is to exercise them ... prophecy ... service ... teaching ... exhortation ... gives ... leads ... shows mercy ... Romans 12:6-8; 1 Peter 4:10-11). Our gifts are not given to us to so we could boast or feel important, but they were given to bless others through us.
So what do we do with these seven truths? I believe there are two principles we can take with us from these truths:
- Admit we cannot and should not try to do everything — if we try to do this, others are denied the opportunity to fulfill their responsibility or we burn out and are lost to future ministry.
- We need to prayerfully, and by faith, use our gifts to do one or two ministries per season.
You are a gifted child of the King! Don't forget it and use what you have been given by God, responsibly and with wisdom, to bless!