I was meeting with some church friends and we discussed the importance of knowing and using our spiritual gifts.
One friend said jokingly, “My spiritual gift is squandering my gifts!”
While I know this friend faithfully serves and uses their gifts, there are many Christians out there who I believe are truly squandering their gifts.
The reality is that Christians who aren’t exercising their spiritual gifts are seriously missing out.
What is the greatest commandment? Jesus said it is to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds and the second is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39)
What’s the #1 identifier of a Christian? Love.
In John 13:35 Jesus said,
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
If there is anything that Christians should take seriously it’s love!
So what does love have to do with spiritual gifts?
Here’s the point I want you to understand: God gives us gifts so that we will use them and show his love to others.
God doesn’t just call Christians to love. He gives unique, specific ways that each individual will excel in loving others.
Pretend the primary mission God gave Christians was to create the world’s largest and greatest temple.
He might give one Christian a saw and another a paintbrush. To one he gives a wrench and another masonry tools.
The point is, everyone received their tools for the purpose of building the temple.
In a similar way, God gives Christians spiritual gifts for the purpose of putting his love on display and serving others.
It is essential then that Christians learn to use their tools well.
You may be wondering what your spiritual gift is.
The first place you need to start is with scripture.
If you’re not sure what your gifts are, pray about it asking God for clarity and ask another Christian who knows you well if they can help you identify your spiritual gifts.
No one starts out as a master.
Whether it’s playing the violin, engineering, or shooting hoops, there is no skill that is mastered overnight.
In the same way, don’t expect to be masterful at using your gifts right away.
In order to develop your spiritual gifts, you simply need to start using them.
For example, one of my gifts is teaching. When I was a young man I took every opportunity to speak that I could.
I taught at nursing homes, homeless shelters, small groups, kid’s ministries, youth groups…pretty much anywhere that would have me.
Believe me, I made my fair share of mistakes. I’ve frozen in front of a crowd, lost pages of my notes, left people confused, and on top of it all I used to sweat profusely out of nervousness.
When I look back, I’m a far better teacher now than I was then, but I would never be where I am today without all those experiences.
Whatever your gift is, the most important thing you can do is start using it.
Don’t put it off. God gifted you for a reason!
Use your gifts.
Spiritual gifts aren’t meant to be used in a vacuum. They are relational by nature.
As mentioned before, gifts are meant to bless others.
There’s something about community that acts as a catalyst to grow you in ways you could never achieve on your own.
So get in community and use your gifts.
The best place you can use your gifts is in your local church. Do what you can to get involved in the community and start serving.
There are also many ministries that could benefit from your gifts. Homeless shelters, food pantries, pregnancy centers, there are so many ministries that need your help.
In addition to in-person community, there are also some good Christian communities online. Personally, I am involved in some Facebook groups where I’ve learned so much and have also been able to bless others.
Your gifts were meant to be used in community, and it’s in community that you will thrive.
Earlier I said that no one is a master from the start.
But who would be better to learn from than the masters?
Whatever your gift is, try to identify someone with similar gifts who you could learn from.
You could ask them to formally mentor you, or you could just befriend them.
Let me be clear, you don’t need someone to call themselves your “mentor” in order for them to mentor you.
You could just start serving alongside them and you will glean knowledge and wisdom from them.
When it comes to some gifts like exhortation or teaching, you may want a formal mentor who regularly critiques you and teaches you how to improve.
Either way, there are people who’ve already traveled down the trail you’re just beginning.
Don’t miss out on wisdom they have to offer.
Are you ready to be used by God?
Are you ready to show the love of Christ using the gifts he’s given you?
Are you ready to experience the satisfaction that comes with giving your time, your energy, and serving others?
Start using your spiritual gifts.
And whatever you do, don’t squander them.
Tim is the senior editor for the ABC Voices blog. He also an editor for Apologetics315. He is the director of the Michigan Apologetics Network and is the chapter director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry, at Grand Valley State University. Tim, his wife Alexandra, and children MaryKate, Oliver, and Sunny attend Allendale Baptist Church where Tim also works as an administrative assistant. Anyone who meets Tim easily remembers him as the tallest Filipino they've ever met.