As a part of being a “friend in the marketplace,” we YBL staff get the privilege to learn a lot about folks as they get involved with the mission. In the last week, I have the privilege to spend time in conversation with several friends. I asked a few, “What is your gift?” The responses varied based upon the depth of their knowledge of scripture. Some knew the “text book” answers, based upon the biblical basis of the spiritual gifts. (See Romans 12:3-8, I Corinthians 12:1-31, & Ephesians 4:11-13 for starters). One response was, “What is a spiritual gift?” Another friend replied, “I do not know if this is my gift, but I am passionate about being in the outdoors – hunting & fishing – I can do it all day long!” A third friend has discovered that he is an excellent coach, after spending several years coaching young boys in the sport of lacrosse. Parents and the kids, themselves, have affirmed this man’s abilities as a coach. Youth sports coaching is not a spiritual gift; however, I would contend that my fiend has discovered that he has the gift of pastor/teacher. I am excited to see this develop as he develops spiritually. In contemporary writing, we see a lot on passions; likewise, authors, like Malcolm Gladwell, propose convincing cases for working (practicing) to improve our abilities. Gifts, passions, abilities – how are spiritual gifts any different?
What is a spiritual gift? Let’s first define the term. “A spiritual gift is an ability given by the Holy Spirit to a believer, as an expression of His grace and love, to accomplish a work of God for the good of others, to demonstrate the reality, nature, and power of the Holy Spirit, and to Glorify Christ.” (A Primer on Spiritual Gifts, Dr. Walter W. Wood Jr) I Peter 4:10 explains that all believers have been given at least one spiritual gift. Although we are deeply impacted by our parents genetically and socially, the spiritual gifts come from God. (See I Corinthians 12:11, James 1:17). Ultimately, God gives us the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13, John 14:15-17), who then imparts spiritual gifts.
Why are these gifts important? Why can’t we just “stick to doing what we are good at doing?” The definition and scriptures cited above remind us that the spiritual gifts are given to allow us to impact others. We grow when we give away what we have; likewise, we better understand what we have when we determine to give it away. Thus, you have been specifically designed by God as his workmanship, to accomplish the tasks that He has determined for you to do! (Ephesians 2:10) That is exciting. Your spiritual gifts will allow you to more fully operate in passions and abilities. You may be challenged to grow, practice, and develop your gifting. As your season of life changes and you face new challenges, the Lord may give you new gifts. It is critical for you to exercise your gifts for the betterment of the community that surrounds you. If you do not know your gifts, talk to your pastor or small group leader. If you do not have a pastor and do not attend a small group, reach out to YBL in your town. If YBL is not in your town, reach out to us anyway, and we’ll help direct you to someone who can walk alongside you in this process.