When most people hear the term “spiritual gift,” they think—maybe only subconsciously—that it only applies to some Christians who must be better Christians than little old me.
Not true in the slightest. The people on your church’s worship team or praise band—they have spiritual gifts. During corporate prayer on Sunday morning, the person who always has beautiful words to say to God—she has a spiritual gift. During the passing of the peace, the guy going around shaking everybody’s hand with the world’s biggest smile on his face—he has a spiritual gift. And even you, who put a check in the basket when it comes to you and don’t have another thought about it—you have a spiritual gift.
It takes is some self-examination to determine your own gifts, but that can be tricky. Here’s a tip: Look for horses, not zebras. The simpler and more natural a talent or activity seems to you, the more likely it is to be a spiritual gift.
Another misconception about spiritual gifts is that they’re only useful in church or religious matters—again, not true. Christianity isn’t just something you do but also something you are. Spiritual gifts can more simply be called “stuff you’re good at,” and you’re good at them in all venues, including the workplace.
If it’s easy for you to say that crucial word or phrase that changes another person’s outlook to one of hope, you may have the gift of encouragement. People with this gift always seek the spiritual betterment of others. If you have this gift, you can use it in your job to help your employees to do the best work they can or to let a weary, flagging boss know that he is doing a fantastic job.
If you don’t put a lot of stock in personal possessions, you may have the gifts of giving or voluntary poverty. People with these gifts purposely live far below their means either to give generously to those in need or to dedicate more time to the service of God. Missionaries usually have one or both of these gifts, but they’re also important to leaders of non-profits and owners of small businesses. If you don’t take a salary, this gift will enable you to do it cheerfully.
If you’re constantly frustrated by politicians and the games they play, you may have the gift of discernment, or the ability to judge whether the spirit a person emanates is good or evil. Discernment is also the ability to look at a situation and know what’s really going on. It helps in nearly every aspect of business from determining whether to carry a company’s product in your store to deciding which of your employees to put in charge of a big project.
If you like visiting people in the hospital and playing cards with them, you may have the gift of mercy. This gift is usually exercised in small ways, but the impacts are big. People with this gift reach out to those on the periphery of society and take action to edify and glorify them. If you’re part of any enterprise that does outreach such as a homeless shelter or free clinic, this gift will serve you well.
There are many more of course, and some of them are fairly obvious. Music, artistic creativity, prophecy, tongues . . . some are clear and some subtle, but they all come from God, the giver of all good things.
But just having a gift isn’t enough—you need to use it.
“Christianity is NOT a leisure identity. True spirituality cannot be defined as a suspension of work. Work and pleasure are unified in Jesus.”
– Jode Poley, @jodepoley
Some resources for thinking about spiritual gifts: