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About this series
Your Divine Design
How to Discover, Develop, and Deploy Your Spiritual Gifts
Do you know how God has uniquely wired you? Every believer was created to play a strategic role in the body of Christ, with the gifts God has given them. But many of today's Christians face one difficult question: How do I discover my spiritual gifts and then use them effectively in my church? This series will unpack key passages from Romans, Ephesians, and 1 Corinthians to explore the role of spiritual gifts in the believer's life, while helping you to pinpoint your own. With biblical insight and practical steps, you'll learn how to discover, develop, and deploy your spiritual gifts so you can live a life of greater impact.More from this series
You ready to really – you got your pencil out? Okay. Now we’re going to look through these gifts. We’re going to walk through, specifically, each one of these gifts, and here’s how we’re going to do it: I’m going to give you written definitions that you can see there. Then, I’m going to give you some quick characteristics. And by the way, don’t try and write these down. I’ll make you nuts. If you’re obsessive-compulsive just lean back.
And then, here’s what I want you to do: Underneath, in your notes, where it says “Prophecy,” I want you to write the words yes, no, maybe. And then, when I get done, just gut reaction, circle yes, no, or maybe. So, I’ll give you the definition, I’ll give you a few characteristics, and then, we’ll do a quick application.
Prophecy: motivational gift from Romans 12:6 to 8: “The divine enablement to proclaim God’s truth with power and clarity in a timely and culturally sensitive fashion for correction, repentance, or edification.” It’s the ability to reveal God’s Word accurately. One of the good tests is, people with this gift, often intuitively, ask about almost every situation, “What went wrong? What caused this?”
Characteristics: They tend to be persuasive speakers. They can read people. They often are opinionated, very black and white. They often like large groups, rather than one-on-one. People with this gift often – I’ve been with people that, you fill a stadium, and you feel like you’re their best friend. And you sit next to them on the airplane, and you say, “Hey, how you doing?” “Fine.” And you’re thinking, But I just had this warm, wonderful experience with fifty thousand people in the stadium. “How’s it going?” “Great.” I mean, there’s just something about some people with this gift is, they don’t necessarily like the one-on-one stuff.
Some of the dangers of this gift: They can have a tendency to be proud of their speaking ability, depending on the speaking ability, rather than on the power of the Holy Spirit. And people with prophetic gift who want to make it right can be insensitive to the feelings of other people. Okay, how about you? Yes? No? Maybe? Does that kind of describe you? Just take a quick shot in the dark. Don’t overanalyze it.
Gift number two is service. It’s the divine enablement to attach spiritual value to the accomplishment of physical tasks within the body of Christ. It’s the ability to demonstrate love by meeting practical needs that releases other Christians for direct spiritual ministry. The question these people intuitively ask, because of their gift, is, “What can I do to help? What can I do to help?” The gift word here is our word diakonia. It is translated “deacon.” It literally means “to serve,” or, “to wait on tables.”
Some characteristics of this person: Doesn’t need much public recognition. These people don’t seek the limelight. They’re content to work behind the scenes. They often like manual projects. Unusual ability to detect people’s personal needs.
Some of the dangers: They can be bitter when their deeds are not recognized. They don’t need a lot of limelight, but when they get none, it’s kind of like, “Hey, does anybody care?”
And by the way, these are the most neglected people in the body of Christ in the Church. These are the people that, I’ll tell you what, when you go to your church this weekend, you don’t see them, but they really make it happen. Someone got in early. Someone turned on the lights. Someone cleaned things. Someone folded the bulletin. Someone typed something. Someone’s watching the kids. Someone fixed the buses. Someone’s helping the single moms. Someone’s doing repairs at night. These are the kinds of people that where the Spirit of God – where the rubber meets the road – practically, in my mind, these are heroes. In fact, Paul says, the more unseemly, less-visible members we need to exalt. That’s this gift.
Yes? No? Maybe? Circle it, or just write that word.
The third motivational gift is teaching. It’s the divine enablement to understand and give detailed explanation of Biblical truth. It’s the ability to search out and validate truth that has been presented. People with this gift are asking the question, “What is truth? Where did you get that? Why?”
The classical Greek word here is “to impart information, in order to develop talent, and potential.” It’s the motivation and power to present, with clarity, the truth of God’s Word. People with the gift of teaching – few characteristics here. They love to do research. They love to study. And they like to study down to the minutia. Stuff that you and I think isn’t that important, it matters to them.
When you have the gift of teaching, very content, very doctrine oriented. You love to research. You love to study. These are the kinds of people, too, when someone teaches – if you have the gift of teaching, your lights are going off like crazy when I’m teaching. Ding. Ding. Is this true? What about this? Where did he get that? What about this? What about this? And you know, that word, I’ve heard it means – could mean this, and that word – I mean, it is like, “Where’s the research? Show me the meat. Show me where you got that.” That’s the gift of teaching.
The danger of this gift is to concentrate too much on content, to the exclusion of application. A danger is boasting or getting proud about their knowledge. Knowledge puffs up. Another danger is being inattentive to the response of students. Yes, no, or maybe? You got the gift of teaching? Could it be? Could that be your primary motivation?
Next is the motivational gift of exhortation. It’s the divine enablement, or power, to come alongside another in need of encouragement, to reassure, strengthen, affirm, and – notice – challenge those who are discouraged, or wavering in their faith. It’s the ability to stimulate the faith of others. People with this gift ask, “What must be done to fix this?” These are fix-it people. And then, next, “How can we move this person to wholeness?”
This person is called alongside other people. And the best way to get the definition of this, it’s interesting, because it’s like a coin with two sides. Their goal is to bring wholeness, and fix things. And, often, it’s comforting, loving, affirming. “Oh, you’ve been through –” They’re great counselors. “Oh, you’ve been through a hard time.”
But if the people don’t change, or if they’re messing around, they also – the flipside of that coin is not just all the comfort, it’s challenge. And they’ll get in your face and say, “You know something? We’ve been meeting for eleven weeks now. And you’ve been telling me, ‘I’m in a terrible marriage. I’m in a terrible marriage. I’m in a terrible marriage. I’m in a terrible marriage. I’m in a terrible marriage.’ I got the part about your terrible marriage. Now, you know what? We gave you some assignments. You did half of the first one. You did part of the second one. We prayed the last three, because you cried through those. Okay? If you want to have a session twelve, honey, you’d better get off your terrible marriage, and ask what God wants to do in you to make this marriage better, than what needs to happen in him. Do you understand?”
And people with the gift of exhortation will do that. They have a long fuse. They’re very loving. Very affirming. But their goal is to help you get whole. And if you don’t want to get whole, after a while, they’ll cut you loose. Characteristics of this person: They’re gifted in counseling. They see practical application from Scripture.
The dangers of this gift: They spend too much time with people who only want temporary solutions to their problems. See, they care so much, it’s like, maybe they should have said that at session six, instead of session eleven. “I’m in a terrible marriage.” Well, okay.
Another danger is, they can become discouraged from lack of results from people who they’re ministering to. These people, they’ve got to see people’s lives change. And if people lives don’t change, they get really discouraged. Like, What’s the deal? Am I doing something wrong?
So, how about you? Gift of exhortation? Are you motivated to ask, “Hey, how do I fix this? How do I bring this person to wholeness?” Yes, no, or maybe.
The next gift is the motivational gift of giving. This is the divine enablement to earn money, manage it well, and wisely contribute to the work of the Lord, with cheerfulness and liberality. It’s the ability to entrust personal assets to others for the furtherance of their ministry. People with this gift ask this question, “What can I give to meet the needs?
The characteristics: These people don’t like the limelight. These people like to give anonymously. These people like to have a single focus. These people want to know what the ROI is on their gift. “Hey, you know what I want to know? So, okay, I gave you a hundred thousand dollars to do this, and do this. Did this, this, this, and this happen? And if not, I’m going to give my gift, next week, somewhere else.”
These people hate high-pressure tactics. They smell manipulation in a New York minute. They can tell when people are trying to con them and put them on. And what they have is an ability to earn money, manage it wisely, and they see opportunities. And they see, You know what? With this much money, this is what could really happen. Those are the basic characteristics of someone with the gift of giving.
They do not have to be wealthy. Obviously this gift is operating in the third world. You can have the gift of giving in Haiti. And you may not have but two coconuts, but you’re willing to give one and a half of yours away.
The danger of this gift is, there can be a tendency to be proud of it, as is evidenced by, “This gift was given by Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so and So-and-so. And here’s the plaque. And…”
See, for every great gift, there’s always a danger. And there can be a danger that you want people to know what you gave. And in a nice sophisticated Christian way, you don’t want people to know too much, but you want them to know just enough. Not that you’re proud, but that you’re wonderful.
Another danger is overemphasizing material needs, to the exclusion of spiritual needs, and judging others, spiritually, by their bank account. See, again, you look at others through this lens. And it’s so easy for you to make money. It’s so easy for you to do stuff. It’s like, My lands, I mean, the guy’s got the gift of service, and he’s been working at that job for eleven years. I appreciate the guy. That’s the most beat-up, dumb truck. His kids are still riding in the back, and that’s dangerous. My lands, save so much. Start with tithing. Do this. Set aside some. Get yourself…get your finances in order! What’s wrong with you?
They just go nuts when they see financial mismanagement. Because, to them, it’s just so natural, how you ought to operate your life. How about you? Yes, no, or maybe?
The next motivational gift is that of leadership. It’s the divine enablement to, notice, see what needs to be done, set goals, and then attract, lead, and motivate people to accomplish the work of the ministry. It’s the ability to coordinate the activities of others for the achievement of common goals. People with this gift are asking, “What’s the goal? Where are you trying to go? What’s the target on the wall?” And the other thing they’re always asking, “What are the results? Okay, this activity, fine activity. You’re saying you’re doing this, doing this. Show me, what did you accomplish? What’s the goal?”
It’s interesting, in terms of definition. This is a person who gives vision and direction, can mobilize other people. It originally has the idea of someone who stands in front. It’s the ability to lead and delegate. They take charge. They enjoy responsibility. This is the guy that wants to take the shot, the last shot in the game. And if he misses, he misses. But he wants the ball in his hands.
When there’s a vacuum, and nothing’s happening, a person with the gift of leadership is just frustrated to death. It’s disorganized. It’s going nowhere. What they want to do is say, “Look, if no one else is going to do this, okay, look, I’ll tell you what. You seem to be good at this, good at this. Let’s come up with a plan. There’s a target on the wall. For the next six weeks, let’s go for it. Does everyone agree?” And everyone goes, “Oh, yeah. I don’t know why we didn’t know how to do that. It just makes sense.” And so, that’s what they are. They stand in front.
It’s a person who has the ability to see how things fit together, what needs to be done, how it can be accomplished. And they have a way of doing it, where people are attracted to them, and they see the big picture, and they mobilize people, and get them in their strengths.
The danger is, they can use people to achieve their goals. The danger is, they can get proud or pushy with the power that’s given to them. We’ve all been around leaders that know God, but we wish they knew Him a little better, and that they get a little grace with all that drive and intensity.
And sometimes, they forget the purpose of the project. It’s, “Got to get it done! Got to get it done! We’ve got to build this building, got to build this building, got to build this building, got to build this building! Come on, what’s wrong with you? You need to give more. Why aren’t you giving more? Come on, these contractor, hey! We’re already ten, twelve percent over budget. What’s wrong with this committee? You know, we start on time; we get this thing done.”
And someone says, “And why are we building this building?” “Because we’ve got to love people.” Huh. And maybe we ought to start in this committee. Okay. See, it’s just one of the dangers. How about you? Leadership. Yes, no, maybe?
The final one is the gift of mercy. It’s the divine enablement to minister cheerfully and appropriately to people who are suffering, or undeserving, and to spare them the punishment or the consequences they justly deserve. Isn’t this a wonderful gift?
These are those people that, you’ve blown it, and you’ve really blown it. And you can blame others, but it really is your fault. And something in them not only wants to help you, but they don’t want you to have to suffer the consequences that you really ought to get. Kind of like God, huh? It’s a gift of mercy. It’s a gift of wanting to withhold just consequences from those who deserve it. They’re always asking the question, “How can I make them feel better?” There’s a high identification with people’s hurts, and people’s needs, and what they’re going through.
The definition of this word – at the heart of it is an emotion that is aroused by the affliction or the needs of others that gets translated into action. There’s just something in the heart – this compassion, this sympathy and empathy – that wants to reach out and help people.
The characteristics: They are able to detect and discern people’s feelings. Have you ever been there? Where you’re with someone with the gift of mercy, and, actually, you’re talking, and you go through the meeting, and you think, Wow that was a good meeting. And you walk out, and you walk out with someone with the gift of mercy, and they say, “Hey man we really need to pray for that guy.” “Why? I thought it was a good meeting.” “You didn’t pick up on it?” “Pick up on what?” “Man his marriage is in trouble.” “What do you mean, his marriage is in trouble? We weren’t talking about marriage; we were trying to get a building built.” “Didn’t you pick up on the signals? He said this; he said that. When you asked about his family, quickly, when we went around and shared, his countenance fell.”
These people man, they’ve got this antenna. They’ve got this radar. And when there are needs, and when there are hurts, and when there’s – they pick up on it. And then, they’re drawn to it. And they want to help, and they want to care.
And the characteristics, here: Not only do they detect and are discerning, they’re very sensitive. They’re sensitive to the point of action. They want direct, personal ministry. The gift of mercy – they don’t want to delegate this. They are moved highly by the World Vision or the Food for the Hungry commercials. And they’re glad to give, but they want hands-on helping people with very specific needs.
The dangers here: They tend to have a hard time being firm when necessary. They look at life – especially in their parenting. You’ve got the gift of mercy – being a disciplinarian is pretty tough with the gift of mercy. Resentment for those who don’t have this gift.
People with the gift of mercy, and people with the gift of leadership, can have significant problems in the body of Christ. And God’s goal is that this person does this out of his grace, and this person does this out of his grace. And the leader becomes more merciful, and the merciful person learns to lead with clarity and direction and apply their gift much better.
They often are misunderstood by people of the opposite sex. If you have this gift, you’ve got to be careful. Because someone’s really hurting, and you’re a woman – or vice versa, man, woman – and you reach out to help them. And the guy or the gal goes, “Hey, he’s pretty cool.” “I think she’s coming on to me.” Or, “He’s coming on to me.” No, no. It has no – “I see your need. I see your pain.”
People often, with this gift, end up in very dysfunctional relationships. Because they’re trying to rescue people, and they get involved, emotionally, in helping people they shouldn’t be helping. What you need is to find another sister to help that gal, or a brother to help that brother on these kinds of issues. Yes, no, or maybe?
I believe that God has given everyone in this room one primary motivational gift. Which one of those seven did you most resonate with? Top one or two.
Because what I’m going to say to you is that you are a workmanship. You are a piece of art. God has given you gifts of different natures and hues that He wants to paint, out of His grace, into the lives of other people. And if you think you’re this, and God wants you to be this, not only are you frustrated, but think of what’s happening in the body of Christ, who needs your gift of leadership, or your gift of mercy, or your gift of exhortation.
And when you understand that there are primary motivations, and then that motivation will play out in different ministries, at different times, at different seasons in your development, and the development of the ministry that you’re called, then what we’ll learn is how you develop those ministry gifts, and how all those other manifestation gifts operate in the body of Christ. Because I’ll tell you what, God wants you to walk in the good works that He before ordained. And I’m going to tell you, when you do, you’ll get the double “F” in your life: unbelievable fulfillment, and unbelievable fruitfulness.
Did you get maybe just a tiny little inkling that we learned some things about God’s Word, but one guy in the room had a lot of fun? Because I just did what God made me to do. I’m not special. I’m not more important. I’m not more holy. I just understand this is what He made me to do. And my dream is that you’ll discover what He made you to do.