Discernment for God's Empowerment
The Spiritual Gifts Inventory is designed to be a helpful process for those who would like to serve the church and community but who may not know what they have to offer.
The Psalmist says, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and God will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4, ESV) When we work and minister in those areas that give us delight, we best serve God and fulfill our calling.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
We begin from the premise that everyone has gifts, useful, and necessary to the work of God in and through the community, world and church. The second premise is that the gifts we have are not the same gifts, that each of us has something different that we can offer. In no way can it be construed that any one gift is better than any other gift. All gifts are precious. All gifts are needed in the life and ministry of the community and church.
We must learn always to find and procure the advantage of God. For God does not give gifts, nor did he ever give one, so that we might keep it and take satisfaction in it; but all were given - all he ever gave on earth or in heaven - that he might give this one more: himself. Therefore I say that we must learn to look through every gift and every event to God and never be content with the thing itself. There is no stopping place in this life - no, nor was there ever one, no matter how far away a person had gone. This above all, then, be ready at all times for the gifts of God and always for new ones.
One means of testing one's ministry is to match it against the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians: "… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Ministry should yield fruit. For instance, if one has the gift of hospitality then having people in one's home or welcoming them to church should bring forth feelings of love, joy, peace, etc., rather than making one feel anxious, impatient or imposed on. Using our spiritual gifts for God deepens our spiritual maturity, contentment in service, and daily joy.
The spiritual gifts are more than talents or aptitudes. When we use our gifts the power of God moves through us, like electrical current through a wire to a lamp, we light up! Expressing our gifts is a direct path to knowing and experiencing God with us. When we use our gifts there is a sensation or felt knowledge of the presence of something more than just ourselves at work in that moment. It comes in the form of inspiration, new ideas, seeing people or things in a new way, generous amounts of energy, a sudden capacity that “comes out of nowhere,” a sense of joy and “rightness.” As you deepen in your spiritual gifts these experiences become more frequent and give you new insight into God and a deeper feeling of abundance, of being connected to, known and loved by God.
We are specifically gifted. Just as your body has specific traits directed by your DNA, the spiritual gifts are our spiritual DNA. They are an expression of God’s plan for our lives. When we use them to build up the church or love the world God has made, we have a feeling of wholeness, of coming home to ourselves, to a realization that we, literally, were made for this. The gifts are doors of God’s grace, the power to make things new, liberate and draw us, and those who experience our gifts, closer to God. More than anything else, the gifts are lived experiences of God active in the community. Living in giftedness brings profound joy to those who give them and to those who receive.
For a community to function at it’s best, like your own body, all the parts need to be healthy and recognized for their contribution. Jesus Christ is the only person who had all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is active in all the members of the church and they work together in harmony as does a human body, amazing things can be accomplished. Truly the body of Christ brings the power of God for new life into our midst. We bring God’s love in specific ways to specific tasks and contexts. It is deeply enjoyable and rewarding for those involved, strengthens relationships, the joy of interdependence and literally, builds up the body of Christ.
To take the Spiritual Gifts Inventory, answer each question on its own merits. Use the numbers indicated for the answers, marking them on the Spiritual Gifts Profile sheet. Then list your gifts in descending order, noting the score, and interpret the results (List of Spiritual Gifts). As you note the score you may want to ask yourself:
“Do I agree with the results? Why or why not? Am I using my strongest gifts? How, or what do I need to do differently? Are there gifts which I'd like to make stronger? How would I do that? How does what I have learned from the inventory fit into my experience? What does this exercise lead me to do now?”
The discernment of gifts is not a solo practice. All gifts must be tested and discerned within community. If you feel that you have a gift but the community does not affirm that gift, it should be discerned with further scrutiny, prayer and wise counsel. Discuss your gifts openly with your spiritual director, spouse or group. If what you encounter surprises you, share it with them. If you have some doubts, discuss them humbly. Ask for feedback, support, or clarification. Contribute to the affirmation process for the others in your church or small group.
After you have identified your spiritual gifts, the process of discernment turns to the discernment of your ability to serve, and use your gifts -- living out your baptismal vows -- in the church and community.
To grow and deepen in sharing your spiritual gifts start an ongoing study in scripture of your gift. Read the Gospels, what did Jesus do with your gift? Read Acts and the Letters of the early Church, when and where is your gift mentioned, how is it used by Paul and others? Ask God to speak to you about your gifts through scripture, do a word study of associated words using a concordance (a Bible study tool that can show you where various words appear in scripture, they are both on-line and in book form) an example might be synonyms for leadership: authority, command, direct, initiate, management, administer, governor, over-seer, presbyter; or verbs that describe leadership actions: lead, led, addressed, vision, spoke, gathered, encouraged. Listen for the Holy Spirit, pay attention when certain scripture leap out at you or quicken your heart, that is God speaking to you.
Another means of learning and encouragement is to read Holy Men, Holy Women and learn from those Christians who have gone before whose embodiment and sharing of their gifts were exemplary. Look for the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives, their risks and transformation. Take guidance and encouragement from their stories.
Hold the gifts you have been given in a gentle hand, be prepared for God to challenge you to grow in strength and your capacity to share your gifts. All gifts are meant for the building up of the Body of Christ in loving the world God has made. Devoted offering of our gifts is spiritual worship where our very lives become a sacrament. There is no stronger, richer way to live.
Be courageous, be strong, do everything in love.
Episcopal Church Foundation Vestry Papers:
An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church:
Listening Hearts Signs of the Spirit:
Holy Men, Holy Women:
Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts by Charles M. Bryant:
Rediscovering our Spiritual Gifts Workbook by John I. Penn:
Life Spring Network: Learn more about your Spiritual Gifts, natural partners, gift categories and more. There are many gift inventories available and different names or categorizations of gifts. This inventory has a few gifts that are not included in our inventory. Take what is good and leave the rest.
None of your gifts match this level
A special note of thanks to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and Neal Boese for giving permission to use and modify the ELCA Gifts Inventory to produce Spiritual Gifts Inventory: Discernment for God’s Empowerment.