By Jennifer Johnson

According to Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Ephesians, each Christian has been given a spiritual gift as evidence of the Holy Spirit working in his life, and each gift is intended to build up and serve the church.

02_4C_Westside5_JNLove that. What I don’t love is that I cannot, for the life of me, figure out my gift.

I’ve done all the tests and they’re inconclusive at best—some say one thing, some say another. It’s entirely possible the tests are flawed, not the principle, or that the problem is with me. Then again, many generations of believers built the church without Scantron sheets, so a person’s gift should be evident without taking a quiz. And you’d think if God really intended these gifts to make his church more effective, he wouldn’t make it so hard to figure them out. Although the list of things I think God could have given us more clarity on could fuel another column.

Of the gifts mentioned in Scripture, the one I usually score highest on is administration, but that’s a temperament/talent/workaholic thing, not a gift that suddenly emerged when I became a Christian. I’ve always been able to break huge projects into manageable chunks and balance the big picture and the details. I love to make plans and I live for lists. Does that mean I’m spiritually gifted or just obnoxious?

Of course, there could be additional gifts beyond the ones listed in these passages, or there could be some mentioned in Scripture that no longer apply. Again, this is all God’s prerogative, but it does make the entire exercise seem rather pointless. And who gets to decide what else makes the cut? (I vote for procrastination.)

Instead of taking tests or forcing everyone to fit a preset list, I prefer West Side Christian Church’s approach. Those who know they have the gift of encouragement or teaching or mercy can easily find ways to use those gifts, and the rest can still serve in meaningful ways while perhaps even “trying out” a few ministries to find the best fit.

Today’s church also has needs the New Testament congregations never envisioned. “Technical arts” are not mentioned in Scripture but you only have to attend one service with spotty audio to know the value of someone who understands microphones. Presenting the wide range of the church’s needs and asking people to choose means the microphone guy gets plugged in (so to speak) even if he can’t find himself in 1 Corinthians 12.

Jumping in and doing something is far better than sitting on the sidelines analyzing a questionnaire, and God is honored any time we serve others. I’m glad churches like West Side are making it easier and more rewarding for people to get started.

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  1. Al
    January 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Amen and amen!
    I’ve long been concerned that some folks seem to fret excessively about the content of the “lists” and their own place in them. The over-riding message of each of those passages is to recognize that we all can contribute to the working of the Body. No one is unworthy, and no one gets a pass. Certainly our service shifts over time – a teen will build up the church differently than a fifty-something, and differently than an eighty something.
    As to you not knowing your giftedness – shoot Jennifer, about a zillion (hopefully!) Standard readers had to smile at that one! Whatever it is, you build us up – we get encouraged, admonished, and an occasional laugh from your ministry of communicating with us – there’s gifts aplenty at work in there somewhere!

  2. January 31, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Thanks, Al–that’s very kind!

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