the shape of leadership

Discovering, Developing, and Deploying God-Given Gifts

God calls each person to selfless service

Stephen Blandino on September 26, 2019


It’s easy in today’s culture to orient our lives solely around ourselves. Life can become centered on me, my wants, and anything that will benefit me. But Jesus calls us to be countercultural, and to choose a posture of selfless service.

Here’s the good news: Not only does Jesus call us to service, but He also equips us to serve. How? By depositing gifts and abilities in us. Our job is to embrace the three keys to selfless service, and disciple others to do the same.

Discover Your Gifts With Clarity

Scripture provides multiple examples of the gifts God deposits within us. Passages like Exodus 35, Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 12 talk about all kinds of gifts, like craftsmanship, designing, serving, teaching, giving, leading, faith, mercy, discernment, healing, miracles and words of wisdom … just to name a few.

The point is, we all have gifts. Our responsibility is to discover them so we can use them. How? One way is to take a personality assessment like Myers-Briggs or a spiritual gifts assessment.

Another strategy to clarify your gifts is to look for the sweet spot of potential gifts. In other words, choose a gift you think you might have, begin to exercise the gift, and then ask yourself whether you experience fulfillment, fruitfulness and feedback.

When you experience fulfillment, there’s a sense of satisfaction when using a gift. While the early exercise of a gift may come with a bit of nervousness, there should ultimately be some sense of satisfaction. Fruitfulness is all about the benefit your gift brings to people and situations. When you use your gift, good things should happen.

Finally, the use of your gift should eventually generate some positive feedback. This doesn’t mean you should seek out praise or hunt for ego-boosting accolades. However, when you function in a gift, somewhere along the way you’re likely to receive some positive feedback from others.

Develop Your Gifts to Their Capacity

Once you discover your gifts, you have to begin developing them to their full capacities. Romans 12:8 says, “If [your gift] is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

We often want praise for our gift without paying the price to develop our gift.

Notice, Paul used words like “generously,” “diligently,” and “cheerfully.” He was describing the growth of our gifts. It’s possible to encourage without being an encouraging person. It’s possible to give without doing so generously. It’s possible to lead without taking that responsibility seriously. It’s possible to show kindness without being cheerful about it.

Simply put, once you discover your gift, develop that gift to its full capacity.

We often want praise for our gift without paying the price to develop our gift. We want the dream without the discipline. We want the platform before we’ve become proficient. We must remember that God gives the raw ingredients of our gifts, but our responsibility is to add discipline and practice to those gifts. The discipline and practice refine the gift and allow it to make an increasingly positive difference.

Deploy Your Gifts With Humility

God intends for us not only to use our gifts but to do so out of a spirit of humility.

First Peter 4:10-11 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Notice, Peter makes an assumption and gives instruction in this passage. First, he assumes that every person has a gift. He didn’t say, “If you have a gift, use it.” He said, “whatever gift you have received … .” Peter assumes God gifts to every person. Second, he gives instructions to “serve others” so that “God may be praised.”

In other words, we are to deploy gifts with humility — to benefit others and glorify God. Humility is what puts the selfless in your service. Humility is what keeps your gift from being turned into a god.

Why is this important? Why invest the time to discover your gift with clarity, develop your gift to its capacity, and deploy your gift with humility in selfless service to God and others?

Because 2,000 years ago, the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Church, and gifted the Church, so that the Church could carry out the mission of Jesus. The mission is the why behind the what. The mission is what adds purpose to the discovery, development and deployment of your gift.

The question you have to ask is, How am I using the gifts God has entrusted to me to selflessly serve the mission of Jesus?

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