Dr. Stephen Phinney
GOD NOT ONLY GIVES GIFTS BUT A CALLING
I can clearly remember when I heard my calling – prophet among My people. However, at the time, I had no idea what that meant, nor did I understand the cost that would come with such a calling. A cost, by the way, that is the core reason most people avoid functioning within their gifts, let alone their calling.
Once a person understands their gift, they need to have a ministry or “a calling” for their gifts to function within. When a person functions in a gift that is not theirs, they labor to do the work; they seem to “run out of energy” in doing good. Additionally, if a person is using their gift but it is being used within the wrong calling, it usually causes more work for the people they are working alongside. They end up giving the appearance of “doing their own thing.” Therefore, understanding the calling can be equally as important as understanding the gifting.
There are two types of calling: a general calling and a specific calling. A general calling is for the Body of Christ, as a whole – being called to serve one another. A specific calling determines a way, or a particular setting, in which the person uses their gift (i.e. Sunday school teacher, worship team, clean up duty, secretarial work, or preaching from the pulpit).
IMPORTANT POINT: God does not give a gift without giving a calling. If the person does not understand their calling with the gifting, the person will spend the gifting on themselves, which is self-exalting.
WHAT IS A SPIRITUAL GIFT?
A spiritual gift is a God-given ability planted within your soul by the Holy Spirit. It is imparted to you on the day of your salvation. Every member of the Body of Christ receives at least one.
The Greek word used for a spiritual gift is “charisma,” which means “grace.” Each Body member is given a special measure of grace – unmerited favor (Ephesians 4:7). God moves through this measurement to accomplish His will through His implanted gifts in this unmerited favor.
Grace means God does the work, and law means man does the work for God. When grace motivates us, we know that God is doing the work through us. When the law motivates us, we can be certain that “self” is doing the work, which means we are using our gift to do what we want. Understand this, grace and gifting have the same meaning, and God is the One using gifts.
In conclusion, spiritual gifts are supernatural, or God-breathed, abilities that empower believers to do His work for the common good of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7).
GIFTINGS MANIFEST AS WE COME TOGETHER
God moves most significantly when the Body is gathered together. When two or more gather together in His name, He will be there, ready to move within the Body (Matthew 18:20). It could happen in a one-on-one discipleship setting or a group dynamic. The fact that we are looking to a God that is alive and ready to reveal Himself to us puts us in a position of expecting God to do work.
First, we need to come empty-handed. If there is anything that needs to be handed over to the Lord (acts of rebellion), now is the time to drop those before the feet of Jesus. God, most likely, will not fully use you if you are struggling with present acts of rebellion. If you decide to use your gift with rebellion in your heart, the gift will promote self. That spells PROBLEMS. You certainly will end up hurting someone and yourself.
Secondly, when you gather, come prepared to listen. Watch your leader! God moves through leaders. Be listening for the Lord’s prompting in your spirit and be watching for what might be going on in the lives of others. God will often prompt one Body member to help another member use their gift. For example: “I am noticing, Jim, that you might have something to say. Would you like to share with the group? Are you receiving a Word from the Lord?” and so on.
Be watching for pain. The eyes never lie. Constantly be on the alert for people’s facial responses. Often, newcomers do not feel comfortable sharing unless they are prompted to do so.
Thirdly, it is important to know that you are transparent when you come together. Transparency is what communicates trust. It would help if you were willing to openly share your life with everyone in the gathering. If you are willing to be open and transparent, then the people God wants to minister to will be more apt to receive the help God has for them.
The Spiritual Gifts
There are 25 gifts found in the Word of God. There are two primary distinctions regarding the gifts. First, Diakonai or Charismata is the functional ministry gifts found in 1 Corinthians 12:8 and Romans 12:3-8. Second, we find Phanerosis, the manifestation of the Spirit gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). The third element is Domata, the Anointed gifted men and women of God assigned by the Lord Himself. Therefore, we must accept the stated three elements of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Diakonai, Phanerosis, and Domata (the ministry, the manifestation of the Spirit, and the anointing).
If we expect God to use us, He will be ready and willing to do so. God knows who needs ministry and who He needs to use to get the job done. God is bound to use you when you are in line with the above three items. It is important not to set standards on God. Be careful not to tell Him how you want to be used and what gifts you want Him to put in you. Fear of the unknown is a big problem with many Christians in allowing God to do anything He wants with and through them. In any case, the important thing is being willing and expectant of God to do great and mighty work by using His gifts in you.
In our next article, we will begin to explore individual gifts.
Understanding your Spiritual Gifts is one of the most practical elements of living the identified Life in Christ Jesus. We hope that your journey with our series accomplishes cementing your identity in Christ.
President & Founder
Dr. Stephen Phinney
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IOM America | Identity Matters Worldview Institute