How does a believer go about identifying his spiritual giftedness? The New Testament gives at least three lists of spiritual gifts (Rom 12:6-8, 1 Cor 12:7-12, Eph 4:11-13; cf 1 Cor 7:7, 1 Peter 4:10), strongly implying at the very least that every Christian has a kind of spiritual gift, and that not every Christian has every gift. So how do you find out what your gift is?
First, remember that every believer has the responsibility to be a faithful member of their local church, and that gifting is discovered, identified, and validated in that context. So if you are not a member of a church, fret about that before you fret about what you are supposed to do in that church.
Second, practice the commands that the New Testament gives all believers. It is through the practice of those commands that you discover the particular area in which you are gifted. We are all called to evangelism, giving, and showing mercy, for example. There are times and situations where service is required, and we are the one at hand to serve. By prayer and obedience to God we serve to love and meet the needs of others regardless of our gift.
It is through that obedient service where we discover which of the gifts we are most effective in using. Being aware of our spiritual gift (or gifts) enables us to give priority to those areas of ministry which allow for the greatest alignment of our gifting with the the needs around us. In so doing, we are most effective.
I recently came across a chart that Ryrie used in The Holy Spirit (128-129) to help explain this practical concept:
GIFTS GIVEN TO SOME
COMMANDS GIVEN TO ALL
|1. Serving (Rom 12:7)||1. Serve one another. (Gal 5:13)|
|2. Exhortation (Rom 12:8)||2. Exhort one another (Heb 10:25)|
|3. Giving (Rom 12:8)||3. All give (2 Cor 9:7)|
|4. Teaching (Rom 12:7)||4. Teaching (Matt 28:18-20)|
|5. Showing mercy (Rom 12:8)||5. Be kind (Eph 4:32)|
|6. Faith (1Cor 12:9)||6. Walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7)|
|7. Evangelism (Eph 4:11)||7. All witness (Acts 1:8)|
I appreciate this chart because it captures the force of the New Testament’s approach to spiritual gifts. All believers should be actively obeying the commands in the right column But as they do that over time and in the context of church membership, they will begin to see particular areas of obedience that the Lord is blessing in their life. Those blessing cause joy in the believer, and that joy forms a desire to continue to excel in those particular areas. The result is that you have discovered your spiritual gift (likely a form of one of the gifts in the left column).
It really is as simple and straight forward as being involved in your church, being obedient to the commands of the Bible, and then focusing your service in whatever areas give you joy and blessing.