"How Do I Uncover My Spiritual Gifts?"
3 ways to discern how God wired you.
3 ways to discern how God wired you.
by Nancy OrtbergI love this question! Discovering and utilizing your spiritual gifts is one of the most exciting
adventures a person can have with God. The Bible says spiritual gifts are abilities God
bestows on every believer for the common good of the body of Christ. They're a large part
of the answer to the question, "What should I do with the life God gave me?"
Passages like 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and 1 Peter 4 go into specific detail about what
these gifts are and how they should be used. It's clear every spiritual gift is a reflection of
God's nature that you carry within you. And because your spiritual gift reflects God's design
and direction for your life, you'll find great passion, joy, and satisfaction in expressing it.
Your spiritual gift also will be a place of deep spiritual formation in your life, as God uses it
both to powerfully connect you to him and to expose areas of your soul that need his
forgiveness and redemption.
So here's a process to start:
Pay attention. Notice the things that energize you and seem to come naturally. Remember
the quote from the movie Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell explained to his sister why he
was postponing his return to the mission field in order to race in the Olympics? "Because
when I run, I feel the pleasure of God."
Every spiritual gift gives off clues. Your spiritual gift will cause you to react a certain way
in a given situation. If there's a problem, people with the spiritual gift of shepherding will be
immediately concerned that people are cared for and growing in Christlikeness as a result of
the issue. Those with the gift of intercession (prayer) will immediately say, "We need to
pray about this," while those with a leadership gift will begin looking at solutions for the
Try. Once you've gathered enough information to create a list of some possible gifts
(perhaps gifts of mercy, evangelism, encouragement, or hospitality), exercise your options.
A great place to start would be a volunteer position at your church. While you're trying it
out, you'll start to discern whether you're good at it or not. Also, others will tell you!
When my kids were young, our church needed help in the nursery during the worship
services. I volunteered for a three-month opening. I didn't feel the pleasure of God; the
children didn't feel the pleasure of God. It was so not my spiritual gift. Part of learning what
you're good at is having to go through the pain of learning what you're not good at.
As you try different things, you'll eventually find yourself engaged in something during
which time flies and you find a deep sense of connection to God. Pick that road to continue
Develop. In 2 Timothy 1:6, the apostle Paul encourages Timothy to "fan into flame the gift
of God." We're responsible to develop our gifts. Perhaps one of the best ways to do that is to
mentor someone who's just starting on this discovery process. People with the spiritual gift
of wisdom are probably the best people to develop someone else with the spiritual gift of
wisdom, and so on for each of the gifts.
It's remarkable how you can deepen your relationship with God as you uncover and live out
the spiritual gifts he's bestowed on you. What could the church and our world look like if
each of us used the gift God's given us?
Nancy Ortberg is a church leadership consultant and popular speaker who lives in California
with her husband, John, and their three children.
• N etwork by Bruce Bugbee, Don Cousins, and Bill Hybels
• Spiritual Gifts by Bobby Clinton (Horizon House)
• U nfinished Business by Greg Ogden (Zondervan)
• D iscovering & Using Our Spiritual Gifts
• W hy God Gave You Gifts
Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today International/Today's Christian
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January/February 2007, Vol. 29, No. 1, Page 62