How Can I Identify my Spiritual Gifts?

(Note: This is a follow-on article to one I posted a couple of days ago, where I shared some insights on spiritual gifts that I had scattered throughout my book and in subsequent articles.)

This is not going to be a deep dive into this topic.  Books have been written about it.  (I highly recommend 19 Gifts of the Spirit, written by Leslie B. Flynn.)  I intend to keep it simple.  I have two biblical and practical ideas to share on how you can find out what your spiritual gifts are.  What I am sharing with you now is something that I have thought about and taught for many years, to both youth and adults.

The party

What would you do if you were at a party, and saw someone spill their snack plate? 

Would you jump in to help clean by yourself?  Would you take charge and delegate someone to get the trash can, another one a vacuum, the other one to replace what was dropped?  Or, would you take them aside after they cleaned it up themselves and try to explain how they could have been more careful?

This method is helpful when you look at the list of what is referred to as “motivational” spiritual gifts, which is found in Rom. 12:4-8.  What is unique and somewhat difficult to understand about this topic is that each of the passages I mentioned has its own list.  There is some overlap, but there about 19 gifts if I remember correctly.  Some are positions in the church, some are broad categories, but this list seems to pair up motivations with seven special abilities that are needed inside and outside the church.

If you would jump in and help them clean up the mess, you may have the gift of service.  If you would take charge of the operation, this might indicate the gift of leadership or administration.  If you biggest concern was their feeling of embarrassment, you might have the gift of mercy.  If your first inclination was to help them to avoid this kind of mishap in the future by shedding some practical or biblical truth on the situation, you might have the gift of teaching or prophecy.

The diamond

Another key question that I came up with myself to help you identify your own spiritual gift or gifts: Which attributes of God caught your attention most when you first became a Christian?

This concept also came from Rom. 12:4-8.  The key phrase is in verse 6, which states, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”  I learned that these two English words gifts and grace come from the same Greek root word, charis.  There is a strong biblical connection here that must not be overlooked to grab the intended meaning of this passage. (See also Eph. 4:7.)

I also noticed while meditating on this section that although our spiritual gifts are different for each believer, the grace that was given to all Christians should be the same to all.  Or was it? 

Could it be possible that God’s grace is somewhat like a diamond with its many facets? 

In the good news that my heart responded to in December 1975, I saw a facet of God’s character much more clearly than others, which then drove how I have focused my ministry with others.

My experience in coming to Christ 45 years ago (which I invite you to read about in more detail in my testimony that I published in an article last year) was that I saw God’s ability to change me from the inside out, which I so desperately needed.  From that point forward, I was all about helping other to discover how God could do the same for them.  I have been diligently practicing my gifts of encouragement and teaching my entire Christian life, and have been seeing results.

What about you?  Did God’s love, forgiveness, comfort, and healing grab you when you heard that He would forgive and cleanse you of your sins?  Were you eager to reach out with a new sense of compassion to bring God’s comfort to those who were hurting?  Maybe you have the gift of mercy.  Was God generous to meet your needs, leading you towards the gift of giving?

Go back and read each of the passages that provide a list of spiritual gifts.  Ask yourself these questions regarding what would be your first reaction in a crisis and which attribute of God attracted you most.  You might see one or two pop up as strong possibilities. 

You might also ask a brother or sister in Christ to tell you what gifts they see in you.  You could also begin to just start practicing them, and see how God blesses and brings consistent results.

In closing, I want to encourage believers to continue to explore this topic and get busy using those gifts that God has given you.  You have been supernaturally equipped to participate in the building up of the Body of Christ.  You have valuable contributions to make.  Go out and serve!

About the author:


Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. Russ received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth minister. He served 20 years on active duty and now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He has written 170 articles on faith and work topics on this blog since 2015. Eighty of these articles have been published over 150 times on several Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, and The Gospel Coalition.

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