A Tip for Pastors

Recently my pastor husband retired, and we began attending a new church. He set up a lunch date with the pastor to see how he and I might be helpful. Terry (my husband) mentioned that I was interested in spiritual gifts and had the training and materials to assess others. The pastor with whom he was meeting said they had done a gifts program already and didn’t need that kind of assistance, but maybe I would like to join the mission stitchers.

When I tell this story to anyone who knows me well, they laugh. Why? Well, because I am terrible at anything that involves crafts or artistic talent. I’m sure the mission stitchers is a wonderful ministry, but it isn’t for me. Later by perusing the newsletter, I was able to introduce myself to the person who was reorganizing their church library, and I’ve been helping her (because I do love books!).

So, what’s my point? Pastors PLEASE–when someone offers to help, find a way for them to do that. Begin by asking some questions. What do you enjoy doing? What have you done in the past? Have you done a spiritual gifts assessment, and if so, what are some of your gifts? If you don’t get an immediate sense of where this person fits it, tell them you will think about it and get back to them. Then follow up! Trying to quickly pop a round peg in a square hole could result in failure for both the person and the congregation.

Fortunately for me, I once had a pastor who was very good at spotting interests and talents, and encouraging his parishioners to serve in ways that suited them well. Sometimes his suggestions were challenging — but they never made me laugh. I’m also self-motivated and self-aware enough to look for my own opportunities, but not everyone is. It’s actually the duty of all who are mature Christians (not just the pastor) to seek out and encourage the gifts of others. The church is a body, and we need all of the parts doing the job God equipped them to do.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.” 1 Corinthians. 12:4

For more posts about spiritual gifts see:

Spiritual Gifts from the Holy Spirit

What are the Spiritual Gifts?

The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

What Would I Do?

“If time, money and human resources were unlimited and you could start a new ministry next month, what would be its focus?   We’re not talking details … rather, what would it generally address?”

This is one of the questions I ask people as part of the spiritual gifts assessments we’re doing at St. Paul’s, and I think it’s a good one for all of us to ponder.  Answering this question honestly will tell you where your true passions for service lie.  What ministry did God give you a special heart and desire to accomplish?

In my own case, it would definitely be something educational, but educational in a way that helped people to grow spiritually.  Maybe a “school of religion”  that offered classes to ordinary Christians about prayer, spiritual disciplines, spiritual gifts and the like.  I’m attracted to equipping ministries which are defined as:

Equipping Ministries: The heart of these ministries is maturing believers in the area of their gifts, ministry, training and leadership.  It serves a variety of life stage and affinity-based groups for growth, accountability and service.

Your passions may lead you in a very different direction.  Maybe you’re interested in caring for others, evangelism, or offering hospitality.  Maybe you’re interest is in the worship service itself, or in supporting other ministries in different ways.  Whatever your passion, when you find it, and then do it, you’ll feel God’s pleasure.  He made us to serve.  What kinds of service attract you?  I really would like to hear from our other authors and our readers.

“There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;  and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;  and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them in every one.”  1 Corinthians 12:4-6


Gifts + Passion = Ministry

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

The spiritual gifts assessment tool I have been using with our congregation helps people to identify not only their gifts, but also their passions.  When you have a passion for something, you love it, and you love to do it.  It occupies your mind and warms your heart.  Your passion will probably determine how you use your gifts.

My passions are reading and writing.  I always have a book in my hand (according to my family).  I love to tell people about my most recent “great read.”  I love to loan books to people.  I also like to write.  I don’t care if I get paid for my writing, I just enjoy doing it. My most prominent spiritual gift is encouragement.  My passions (reading and writing) + my gift (encouragement) = my ministries (this blog, the Little Free Library).

When you allow your passion to drive your gifts you wind up being a cheerful giver of whatever talent you have to offer.  I don’t blog or donate and lend books to others because it’s a duty, something I must do to earn approval from God or others.  I don’t do these things because the Pastor, or somebody else told me I should. I do them because they give me joy.  I get a charge out of hearing someone else learned and grew through a book I recommended.  My heart is lifted up when a reader shares that a blog post nourished  his or her spiritual life.

Readers, go where your passions and gifts are calling you!  You’ll find yourself becoming a cheerful giver of all the gifts God has first given to you.


With Sober Judgement

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  Romans 12:3

Paul puts this statement right before he talks about the differing gifts in the church, and how they are meant to be used together, to create a body, a unity.  I don’t think that’s an accident.  I believe what Paul is trying to tell us is that we should be aware of our gifts, and not be fearful about using them.  We’re not to become puffed up and proud, but rather realistic, knowing our own gifts, and appreciating the contributions of others as also necessary and valuable.

Now, we might discover our gifts through the normal course of daily life;  but then again, we might not.  Often we become caught up in the expectations and perceptions of others;  we don’t listen to God as carefully as we should.  We get caught up in what seems to be our “duty” and neglect the things that are really most important (shades of Mary and Martha!).  I can do this so easily.  There are so many good things in the church that need doing, how can I choose wisely?

One way is to know your gifts.  This has helped me tremendously, especially when I need to say no.  One author I read recently said, “Do the things that only you can do.”  At the very least, we should be giving those things priority.  I’m trying to apply this to my own life.  What are the things, at home, at church, in the community that I can do best?  What are the things that will probably go undone, if I don’t take up God’s challenge to get them accomplished?

If you haven’t taken a spiritual gifts assessment, I’m going to provide a link so you can do this.  It will help you say yes to the opportunities that are right for you.  The things God wants you to do in the body of Christ.  Think about your gifts with sober judgement.  You can start here:


Then click on Spiritual Gifts Survey to find an assessment of your gifts.

The Spiritual Gift of Leadership

As part of our Fanning the Flame process, all team members (and eventually all of our congregation) will be offered the opportunity to do a spiritual gifts assessment.  Leadership is a spiritual gift, and in this month of exploring leaders, I thought everyone would benefit from having the following definition which was provided as part of our material.  After reading this, do you think you may have the spiritual gift of leadership?




Literal Meaning: To stand before


Description: The gift of leadership is the special ability that God gives to certain members of  the Body of Christ to set goals in accordance with God’s purpose for the future and to communicate those goals to others in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to accomplish those goals for the glory of God.



  1.     Provide direction for God’s people or ministry                                                                                                2.
  2.     Model the values of the ministry
  3.     Take responsibility and establish goals
  4.     Motivate others to perform to the best of their abilities
  5.     Present the big picture for others to see



Traits: Cautions:
q     Influential q     Should realize their relational credibility takes time
q     Diligent        and is critical for leadership effectiveness
q     Visionary q     Should remember that servant leadership is
q     Trustworthy        biblical model, the greatest being the servant of all
q     Persuasive q        Do not need to be in a leadership “position” to use  this gift
q     Motivating
q     Goal setter


References: Acts 15:7-12; Romans 12:8; I Timothy 5:17