Spiritual gifts. You knowing your spiritual gift. You developing your spiritual gift. And then you using your spiritual gift is serious business. I’m gonna say that for a couple reasons, but I think what has happened is we view in the church, many times spiritual gifts is like a dessert bar. You know. The real meat and potatoes is you walk with God, you pray, you obey, you do the best you can. And then, yeah some people really know their gifts. But it’s kind of like dessert. You don’t really need it for the meal. It’s a nice addition.
And what I want you to know is that it’s a part of the core of God’s meal for growing His church. There’s been an empirical study done worldwide, over six continents. They received over 4.3 pieces of data. They did it in hundreds and hundreds of churches. They did it in multiple languages. They did it in every kind of church. A sociological study. This was not an opinion poll. It was an empirical study to find out what caused churches, what were the core elements of churches. Whether they were charismatic or non charismatic. Whether they were denominational or nondenominational. Whether they were state run, small, large or mega.
And they came back with about eight characteristics, Biblical characteristics that were common in all churches that were growing both qualitatively and quantitatively. One of those eight characteristics, in fact one of the most important, was a gift oriented ministry. Churches that trained people in their giftedness and then allowed them to serve in their giftedness. Christian Schwartz in his book, Natural Church Growth, as a result of this study writes, “When Christians serve in their area of giftedness, they generally function less in their own strength, and more in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus ordinary people can accomplish the extraordinary.”
And then he writes as a researcher, “the interesting corollary result of our research was the discovery that probably no factor influences the contentedness of Christians more than where they’re utilizing their gift. Our data demonstrated a highly significant relationship between gift orientation, my personal ministry involvement matching my gifts, and people’s joy in living. None of the eight characteristics showed nearly as much influence on both the personal life of the believer or the impact of the church than gift oriented ministry.”
I’ve got five reasons you need to develop your spiritual gift. Before we dig in, because I want to convince you. I want to take about four or five minutes and convince you. I don’t want this to be a sheet of paper where you know more about gifts. I don’t want you to even get a model or a paradigm where you can say, “You know, I know there’s motivational gifts. I know there’s ministry gifts. And I know there’s these manifestations.”
I don’t want you just to get more educated. I want you to be willing to do the hard work, to do the research, to look insider your soul, to jump in the water of ministry to do whatever it takes to discover how God wired you. Because you are His workmanship. You have been created in Christ Jesus to do what? Good works. What good works? The works that He preordained that you should walk in them. And I want to tell you, you are that paintbrush. The grace of God, using your gift, painting the spirit of God’s work through the word of God in community to change people’s lives. And you need to know what kind of paintbrush you are.
Let me give you five reasons. And these are purely to just get you motivated. Reason number one is direction and purpose for your life. When you understand your gift clearly, your key motivational gift, and then the ministry gifts where it operates, it will give you direction and purpose for your life. Number two, freedom to embrace and enjoy who you are. Key word, freedom. You know we’re just people, and we grow up. And as you grow in the Lord there’s people that you associate with or you admire. And we unconsciously try to be like them. You know how liberating it is to discover who God made you to be? And just say, “Wow. I don’t have to be like anybody else. I don’t have to talk like anyone else.” What is holy and wonderful and winsome is the freedom to be the man or the woman God made me to be.
Reason number three is joy. The joy that results from impacting lives. The joy when you meet needs by the good works God has called you to do. In fact, our word for gifts – charismata – you know you have the word charis, which is the root word for grace. Well guess if you keep making that word smaller, the word is joy. Joy, gifts and grace all come from the same word. When you are in your giftedness you’re gonna experience amazing joy.
Reason number four is affirmation of your victory with Christ. This is a real theological one, but we covered Ephesians 4:7. What does it mean that he ascended, except he descended into the lower parts of the earth? Ephesians 4:7. And that entire passage is talking about Christ’s victory over sin, Christ’s victory over death, Christ’s victory over Satan. And the evidences He gave gifts to men. When you operate and know your gift, each time you use it you ought to get a sense of, “you know I have this gift because I am a co-victor with Christ.” And it affirms your value to God. It affirms that you’re on the winning team. It affirms that, you know life is difficult. It is a fallen world. But I have a supernatural ability that reminds me Christ is the victor. And I’m a coheir with him.
Reason number five is accountability. As you will be held responsible for the stewardship of your gift. The first four were kind of exciting. Rah! Go! I mean, man you can’t afford not to miss it. But number five is there is a day when I will stand before what’s called the Bema Seat, or the Judgment Seat of Christ. And I will be judged. And this is not a judgment for salvation. That’s taken care of at the Cross when I trust in Christ. But I will be judged as a believer for my rewards. And the stewardship will be, not did I do as much as Billy Graham. Or not did I do as much as this pastor or that missionary. Or some great layman. God will ask me, “Chip, what did you do with what I gave you? I entrusted you with X amount of time on the earth. X amount of wealth. X amount of energy. And these spiritual gifts. What did you do with what I gave you?”
And I don’t know about you, I don’t want to look up at the Lord and say, “Could you go over the gifts part one more time? Cause I never really quite figured out what mine was.” And I think the Lord’s gonna say, “Chip, it was right there in my word.” Now are you motivated? Are you willing? Cause when we get to the end of this I’m gonna give some specific applications that are gonna take you out of your comfort zone. It’s gonna take some work. It’s gonna take some energy. I mean the last thing you need is one more colored notebook on a shelf that says, “There’s the spiritual gift one. I remember when I took that.” You know.
So with that said, for you to not just discover, but really develop your spiritual gift I think three things need to happen. Number one is clarity. Developing your gifts begins with clarity. And this is a little review. There are three types of spiritual gifts. First, every believer has one primary motivational gift. Romans 12:6-8. We are to concentrate on discovering and developing this gift. Remember our little story about the waiter? And he dropped the tray. One of those seven motivational gifts I believe every one of us in this room has. It’s our primary motivation.
Second, that motivational gift, that drive, that ability can express itself through a variety of ministry gifts. And we looked at that second column in Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12:28. Third, when we exercise our motivational gift through our ministry gifts, the Holy Spirit determines what manifestations or effects will most benefit people. So as we understand, here’s my core motivation. And then I’m going to ministry in these ministry gifts. God chooses, as He wills, to manifest gifts and impact in lives of people.
Now you say, “Where do you get that?” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 we get the paradigm. It says, “There are many different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. And there are different kinds of workings, but the same god who works all of them and all men.” And remember, this isn’t from Mount Sinai. This is from Chip. Okay. And I’ve studied, and I’ve looked at this. When I look at 1 Peter 4 and it says,”Let every person exercise the gift.” Singular. “That they have.” When I look at Romans 12, if you have the gift of teaching. Singular. Exercise it. Exhortation singular. Let him exercise it. I think there’s good Biblical evidence.
But what we know is there’s a broad base of teaching on spiritual gifts. But what you have is all these gifts. What we have, these three columns you have is one way, I think an effective way. One way, a model, a paradigm to break down the gifts in such a way that help us put them into practice. And so by way of one quick illustration, you’ll notice this is review. We did this last time.
For example, if you had the gift of teaching. And we learned what that was last time. You’re motivated to teach. When that waiter dropped his tray, the first thing you thought was, “You know something? I could tell the way he was holding it it was out of balance.” And you want to put your arm around him and teach him how to carry it correctly.
If that’s your motivation then that motivation can be played out in a number of ministries. You could be a church planner, an apostle gift. We’ll learn what that is. And you might start something, but your motivation is to teach. Or you might have the ministry gift of teaching as well. So you might be motivated to teach, and you want to teach God’s word in a Sunday school class or a small group. Or you might have the teaching gift, and your ministry gift, the primary one might be pastor/teacher. You end up a pastor. And it might be the pastor of a small group or the pastor of a church.
You need to understand what your primary motivation is. Then the ministry gifts. And as you teach, for example, and then teach maybe in a small group, then the effects are people get knowledge. Someone gets faith. Someone gets a word of wisdom as you teach God’s word about the next step they need to take in their marriage.
Now let me give you an example of how this works in reality. I have a friend who is a business person. He’s kind of high up in corporation. He’s got leadership gift. Natural ability in leadership. And he is a financial area. So guess where they put him in every church? They want to make him a member of the board. Right? They want to put him on the finance committee. And they want him to make all the decisions removed from people.
And so he did that for years and years and years. Good godly man. Gets up. Reads his Bible. Prays. You know wants to be the man, the husband God wants him to be. Didn’t know anything about spiritual gifts. He always, you know he was the kind of guy always buying an extra commentary and reading and looking and digging in. And asking questions that made people crazy, cause that’s what people with the gift of teaching do. They care about those things.
But all the while people kept putting him in natural abilities. Then he learned about gifts. And he realized that his motivation is the gift of teaching. He also realized that he’s best in a teaching environment, not even pasturing. And he got in a large Sunday school class. He got out of his board responsibilities. Cause you can only do so much, right? He said, “Yeah, you know what? I do run a big company. And I do understand financials and PNL statements. But you know when I come to church that’s about the most boring uninteresting, non-motivating thing you could ever ask me to do. Am I good at it? Yes. Do I want to do it? No.”
And he began to free himself up from church activities and teach. And then he teamed up and realized he needed a team of people because that’s the way gifts work. And he began to build one of the largest Sunday school classes, with multiple small groups. And he began to each God’s word. And he said the joy I experienced. And then the manifestation. What began to happen is, wow, people were getting wisdom and knowledge and understanding. And marriages were being healed because they got the knowledge of what God’s word said about it. And business people would come because he had respect in the business community. And people would get their finances in order because what? He would teach on finances, but God gave him a platform.
Do you see how once you understand your gifts it really begins to give you direction, focus, purpose, joy, affirmation from God? And that there’s these three categories. And then notice – I love this last verse. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good.” Let’s remember, I mean like ultra remember, this is not about a little inward query of kind of looking down in your spiritual naval and saying, “Oh god, oh god. Show me my gifts. Show me my gift. Show me my gift.” It’s a grace gift. What’s the goal of the gift? God has deposited a supernatural enabling in you in order to serve other people.
I like to think of it as a grace giving gift. Is that what you’ve been given is something that it’s really no good unless you give it away. And the preoccupation is not all about you, and what’s my gift and how does it work, and how many inventories and tests can I take. The real issue is, “Lord, how can I understand how you made me? How can I understand the environment or ministries that I best can be used so that more people or in deeper ways can experience Jesus at a fresh and new level?” Do you get it?
So I think number one is clarity. You got to get clear on that. And by the way, if it’s still a little bit foggy, you know how it really works? It happens in real life. We’re gonna go over this in just a little bit. But this is the cognitive side. Really discovering, developing and deploying your gift, you’re gonna have to get in on the game. You got to be involved in a ministry. You’re gonna have to be involved in relationships. And God will show as you are in that process.
First is clarity. But the second thing I think needs to happen is this. To develop your gifts it demands a basic understanding of the New Testament gifts. I mean I bet there were some of you here that thought to yourself, “Well it was really interesting. He went over this left column. And this charismata. And these motivational gifts. And, you know that kind of made sense. But what about those other two columns? I mean what are they exactly?” And if you’re like me, you know I’ve been the around the block. Christian circles. I’ve heard these explained in a zillion different ways. What exactly are these other gifts? And give me a quick snapshot.
And so if you will sort of fasten your spiritual safety belt, and some people have said that I talk fast. This could possibly be true. But you have not heard me talk fast until you see me go through all these gifts. But here’s what I want you to do. It’s in print. What I want to do is I want to, as best I can, give you a quick snapshot of these. Because what will happen, I’m praying that even in this room the spirit of God, as you begin to narrow down your motivational gift to maybe the top two, then you’ll begin to see as I describe some of these, maybe this is an arena for my ministry gift. Maybe this is why these certain effects happy.
So with that are you ready? And some of them, by the way are controversial. I want you to know, you know I’ve done a word study on all these. I’ve done a lot of research. But my name is Chip. It’s not Moses. It’s not Jesus. This is my very best understanding. And there are very godly people who have done also a lot of work, and may look at these things just a little bit differently. My prayer is that you will be more noble than the Thessalonians. And like the Barians you will examine the scriptures daily to see whether what I’m saying is in fact so. If you have the gift of teaching I know you’ll do that. It’s those other people I worry about. So are you ready? Are you ready?
Apostleship. Definition. It’s the divine enablement to start churches or other ministries, and oversea their development. It’s the ability to ministry cross culturally with the goal of planning churches. Now note, the distinction between the office of apostle and the gift of apostle. Ephesians 4:11 says, okay Jesus gave, he gave some as apostles and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastor teachers. He gives four offices. And they are also gifts. That’s Ephesians 4.
Move the camera back to Ephesians 2 and he’s talking about the birth of the church. And he says, “Now the foundation was laid by whom?” The apostles and the prophets. Jesus being the chief cornerstone. To be a New Testament apostle, to hold the office, you had to be with Jesus from His baptism. And you had to be an eyewitness of the resurrection. Now unless you are very, very, very old you are not a New Testament office apostle. Okay.
However, the word apostle literally means messenger. It just means messenger. And it means someone who is going to fulfill something. And there are other places in the New Testament where people are called a messenger or an apostle, and it’s clear they’re not one of the 12. Now what we know is from Jesus these 12 are gonna have a moral responsibility and there’s gonna be judgment that they have.
But I believe that the gift of apostleship currently is here. But the office of apostleship, because it’s gone. Because what did the apostles and the early prophets do? They brought new revelation. When the church was birthed there was no 1 Corinthians. There was no Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You know there was no Revelation. But when we get to the end of Revelation what’s very clear? If any man or any woman adds to this book all the curses in this book will be upon them.
So the foundation is what you lay of the church. And once you lay the foundation then those gifts of offices, of giving new revelation are done. But this gift of apostleship, I like to think of these people as the spiritual entrepreneurs of the church. These are the people that launch things, start things. These are the people that see what could happen. They plant churches. They see what’s happening in the life of the church. And something in them looks at, “Okay there’s ministry to kids. Ministry to children. Ministry to the elderly. We have an outreach program.” And they look at all that and they say, “That’s great. But I want to launch a ministry to unwed mothers. That’s great, but I want to launch a ministry to the Hispanic community. That’s great, but I want to start bible studies all over.”
We have a fellow who’s been involved with Walk Through for years and years and years. And he’s in the tech area. And he got this dream of taking people in the tech area, in technology, and having a breakfast. And bring them together, bringing someone out of that area highly respected, giving a full-blown testimony, share the gospel. And then build Bible studies around all those people who come. And it’s mushroomed here in Atlanta. And now is in other cities. You know he’s an entrepreneur. He has this gift of apostleship to launch and start things. Do you resonate with that? Could that be one of your ministry gifts?
The second gift here is prophecy. The divine enablement to proclaim God’s truth with power and clarity in a timely and culturally sensitive fashion. Notice the focus. For correction, repentance or edification. It’s the ability to reveal God’s word accurately. Now notice this can also be a motivational gift. This can be a primary motivation. But you could have the motivation of exhortation.
Or you could have the motivation of even mercy. I know a worship pastor whose primary motivation is mercy. His heart just goes out to people. It’s compassion. He’s always helping the underprivileged and the hurting people. And the people that are out there on the fringe. Kind of the real artistic types. But when he puts together a worship set, and he’s also an artist. When he paints he wants to with power prophesy and proclaim, “This is who Christ is.” And he wants to create this environment and this event. It’s his ministry gift.
Now, the office of prophet, like apostle, is gone. I mean we’re not getting new revelation. You know. We don’t have like 2 Revelation and 3 Revelation. We don’t have 3 Corinthians. But as a ministry to proclaim this is still very, very much around.
Evangelism is the third gift. It’s the ability to be unusually effective instrument in leading unbelievers to a saving knowledge of Christ. Some with this gift are most effective in personal evangelism, while others are more used by God in group evangelism, or cross cultural evangelism. These people are motivated and they’re empowered to share their faith in such a way that two things happen. Lost people come to Christ, and they want to help all the rest of the church become better evangelists.
Many of you do not have the gift of evangelism. But if you get around an evangelist two things will happen. One, your spiritual temperature and concern for lost people will go up. It really will. I remember being in Spain. I had a good buddy I went to seminary with. His name’s Manny Fernandez. And he started this evangelistic church planning ministry, first in Spain and now around the world.
And a buddy of mine, we went to Madrid, and we wanted to see his ministry. And as a church we were supporting it. And there was this open huge open – I don’t know what – quadrangle. That’s all I can think of to call it. And there were buildings all around. And people and fountains. And Manny was walking across it like this and he stopped me like this in an archway. And I mean there were thousands of people. And he looked at me, he said, “Chip look. Just look.” And I’m thinking, “There’s people. I mean okay.” “No look.” And I’m thinking, “My eyes are open. I can’t look any harder than I’m looking.”
And he said, “Do you realize less than 1 ½ percent of those people know Jesus? It’s true all over Spain.” And I mean tears just started coming down his eyes. And I mean when I was with him, I mean I think he was gonna share his faith with statues. Just in case, you know.
Lost people matter to people with the gift of evangelism. I remember they interviewed Billy Graham. And they asked him, you know they looked back on his life and said, “How do you explain, of course it’s God. How do you explain this massive amazing impact that God has allowed you to have on the world?” And you know they were expecting, well, it was my training. Or it was my parents. Or I had this wonderful spiritual experience.
And I’ll never forget his answer. Kind of tilted his head and he said, “Well, I don’t know that I can really explain it other than maybe one thing.” He said, “I feel like God has a love for people that don’t know Him. I think God has a passionate deep love for people that don’t know Him. And I just feel like God took His love for those people that don’t know Him, and He just placed it in my heart. I just love them. I just love them.”
And by the way, this is a good example too of some gifts, imagine a gift rather than as the color blue, or this gift the color red. Imagine a gift as the color blue, but with a variety of shades of blue. So dark blue might be mass evangelism, big groups. And real light blue might be personal evangelism. One of the greatest evangelists I ever met was a guy named John Saffold. John came to Christ late fifties, maybe early sixties. Had a CPA firm in Dallas. Very shy man. Except the supernatural gift of evangelism. And John would go into prisons once a month or more with Bill Glass, and go to death row and share Christ. But John shared Christ everywhere.
I’d go to meet with him at lunch, I still remember we get on a elevator. I mean, you know I don’t know, 45 floors and glass buildings and real nice. Very sophisticated people in their business suits. You know. Really looking cool. And John turns to this nice young lady, “Hi, how you doing?” And she goes, “Fine, thank you very much.” And he just, he had this smile. I mean, you know it was just contagious. And he’s a older guy. So, you know she knew there was, you know he wasn’t coming on to her. And then he looks at her. And said, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?”
And I’m thinking, “oh John. There is a way to do this and this is not seeker sensitive.” Oh I’m thinking, “John, what are you doing?” And you know I’m waiting for her to take her purse and whack him or something. And he turned to her and said, “You know something? I just have to tell you, I wasted most of my life. I mean we got less than 2 minutes on the elevator. And Jesus has made all the difference. And I just can’t help believe that He just wants you to know how much you matter to Him. If you ever want to talk about Jesus, you know? Here’s a business card. And our company’s up on the something something floor.”
And I’m expecting her to take it, throw it on the ground. I don’t know anybody who could this. She melts in his presence. Looks at him. Takes the card and says, “You know you have no idea what I’m going through right now. Thank you Mr. Saffold. Would it really be okay to come and talk?” And you know what? It’s called the gift of evangelism. It doesn’t have to be in a big group. But this is a gift that God gives people to care, to reach out to lost people. Maybe that’s you.
Notice as we move on, next gift is pastor teacher. It’s the only dual gift in the New Testament. He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists and some as – there’s only a singular article. It’s not some as pastors and some as teachers. Literally it’s some as, you know singular article the, pastor/teachers. Let’s find out what it is. Pastor/teacher is a person with this spiritual gift has the ability to lead, nourish, protect and personally care for the needs of a flock of believers.
Not all people – listen carefully – with the office of pastor, in other words a person like me who’s been a pastor 25 years. The office of pastor. Or even an elder or overseer have a need for the gift. In other words you don’t have to have the gift of pastor/teacher to be a pastor. You can pastor, that office, out of a exhortational gift. For me it was a prophecy gift.
And then notice it goes on. And many with this gift do not need or have the office. In other words, you’ve met some people who pastor and shepherd and love people. And they love being small group leaders. Or, you know some of those Sunday school classes where they kind of have teams. This is the person that it always wondering, “Well I wonder how Betty is. She’s not here. I wonder how Bob. Hey Bob, how are things going? Last week you shared.”
They shepherded. That’s what this word means. The word pastor comes from the root word to shepherd. It means to give oversight. This is the ability to promote spiritual growth. It’s a dual gift. It not only has a caring. It means you can nurture, care. And what does a shepherd do for sheep? A shepherd protects, leads, guides and feeds. And this person has that mix and also the ability to teach God’s word in such a way to help the person growth spiritually.
And this does not have to be – I think this has not been taught. A lot of people with this gift get lost in the body of Christ because they think, you know I’m not called. I don’t have any calling from God to go to seminary or Bible school and be a pastor. But I want to shepherd people. And by the way, this is not gender specific. You know the spiritual gifts – see we have gotten so used to the office of pastor we think of the pastor as a role or a office. This is a gift.
Give you a quick example. When my daughter was in fifth or sixth grade there was a woman teaching the fifth and sixth grade class. They had about 60 or 70 fifth and sixth graders. And she had the gift of pastor/teacher. And pastor/teachers see people with potential as well. And she began to shepherd my daughter. Just love her and care for her. And pretty soon she saw some gifts. And so she went into – once she got out of fifth and sixth she kept the relationship. And she had Annie come and help with the third and fourth grade. She was involved in the children’s ministry. Then a year later she had her come and help with the fifth and sixth graders.
I’ll never forget they were gonna go on a snow retreat. My family is musical, but Annie only knew three chords on the guitar. And couldn’t change very fast. I mean she played the piano, but all her brothers are, you know musicians and stuff. And so she said, “Annie, I want you to lead worship. These three chords that you know, here’s about ten songs with just those three chords.”
And so she goes up for the first time. Well guess what my daughter is very good at now? She leads worship, plays guitar. But she developed my daughter. My daughter by the time she was in about ninth or tenth grade, she led us a small group, she shepherded people, she taught, she led worship. This woman who pastored her and taught her developed her to be a young woman of God.
And so guess what happened when we left California? Trish came by. And Trish said, “Annie, I have a gift for you.” Cause see they always want to develop, nurture spiritual growth. “Here’s a brand new guitar. I think God has a great ministry for you and maybe you need a nice guitar to do it.” How about you? Are you a shepherd? You a teacher?